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How Efficient Are Your Sales Teams?

An efficient sales staff has the tools and resources available to close sales without drowning under piles of paperwork or red tape. The more time sales staff spends constructing contracts and waiting for approval, the less time it has to actually close sales — an action necessary to the very life of your company.

Ask yourself these questions as you assess the efficiency of your sales teams:

  • What keeps two salespeople from working on the same lead? A central sales database can help make it clear which salesperson owns which lead, preventing duplication, confusion, and lost sales (not to mention lost time).

  • How do two team members share information on the same lead? Sometimes one salesperson has valuable information on a lead that they are not working directly. More often, a past salesperson has information on a lead in their e-mail inbox or notepad, which future salespeople have no means of accessing.

  • What is your sales team’s attitude about sharing information? Hoarding leads and information is common in highly competitive sales environments. How may you encourage more collaboration? Are company sales goals or bonus policies actually inhibiting collaboration that can lead to greater sales?

  • Do you have a CRM? A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management tool, is the single greatest tool for increasing sales efficiency. It offers a central place for storing lead and customer details, archiving e-mail/phone interactions, integrating management approvals or hot lead alerts, and much more.

  • Do you have an autodialer? In phone-heavy sales environments, you lose a lot of time manually dialing numbers. You also lose some “rhythm” which can be important when you’re in the sales call “zone.”

  • Do you know what time zones your sales leads are in? Calling people at their office when they’re already home for the day isn’t an efficient use of time, especially if you don’t realize time differences are the issue.

  • Do you have sales scripts covering multiple scenarios? By no means should your staff read off of scripts, but these are a valuable tool for getting new salespeople up to speed, for reminding experienced salespeople of key talking points, and most importantly, for testing which types of pitches and approaches are most effective.

  • What ongoing training do you provide to your sales team? Quality ongoing sales training can keep best practices and strategies at the forefront of your sales team’s minds. Quality ongoing product training is equally important.

  • How does the sales team reach leads while they’re on the road? If salespeople work weekends, travel frequently, or even spend time visiting local customers, they need a means of accessing and updating the company’s lead database remotely.

  • Do you have sales quotas? How often are they met? Having quotas is not inherently efficient or inefficient, but if your team almost never meets their quotas, that’s a sign of underlying inefficiencies in either sales prospecting or quota-setting.

  • Do you give bonuses for sales performance? How often are they earned? Again, it’s less about whether you have bonuses, and more about whether anybody actually feels they can stand a chance at earning one.

  • Does sales interact with current customers? Can (and do) they check in with the people they sold to, or does the relationship end abruptly?

  • How are upsell opportunities handled? Who (if anyone) upsells to existing customers?

  • How do sales incentives align with company goals? This one requires some careful thinking and often the benefit of some bad experiences. If you were trying to manipulate current sales incentives, how would you do it? How can you plug that hole?

  • What sales collateral do you make available? The more quality collateral — pamphlets, websites, white papers, demo videos, and so on — you provide to your sales team, the easier time they will have closing deals.

  • Can a salesperson e-mail his entire list of leads? If not, you’re probably not using an efficient central database.

  • Can a salesperson take his entire list of leads and leave for a competitor? Although it’s entirely possible to actually do this with most modern database systems, the important part is the audit trail. If you can see who is downloading what data, you can pinpoint times when salespeople access or move information they shouldn’t, and take appropriate action.

  • Who owns your sales contacts? An experienced salesperson will likely be reluctant to join your company if it means you will gain ownership of his Rolodex.

    At the same time, a salesperson can’t expect to be able to take your entire organization’s aggregate leads with him when it comes time for him to move on.

  • Do you know about CAN-SPAM? Your company faces legal action and fines if you e-mail people without permission and/or don’t give people a way to unsubscribe from your e-mail lists.

  • Have you ever cleaned your leads? A “dirty” lead can be someone who moved away, is deceased, or changed her last name; a duplicate; or even a bounced e-mail address. It’s particularly important to clean your leads if you do direct mailings, because every dirty lead becomes at least one dollar right down the drain.

  • If you need to, can you transfer leads out of your current system and into a new one? Portable data is a key tenet of efficiency. Your cutting-edge system of today is the dinosaur of the next decade.

  • Are there security measures in place for handling sensitive lead data? The greatest of all inefficiencies is being sued by a potential customer for mishandling her private information or credit card details.

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