6 Sales Productivity Hacks That Get Your People Moving

Rob Danna

Woman talking on cell phone

Your sales team productivity isn’t a big issue. It’s a monumental, enormous, gargantuan issue.

According to the CMO Council, lost productivity and mismanaged leads cost companies at least $1 trillion every year. That’s more than what Apple, the most valuable company in the world, is worth.

Keeping your sales team motivated and driven to accomplish their goals is an enormous priority for companies of all sizes.

Here are six sales productivity hacks that keep your people striving for greater.

1. Fundamental Sales Training

Any salesperson worth his or her weight knows their product inside and out. They can anticipate questions and advise on anxieties before the prospect even knows they have them.

That sort of knowledge comes from training—there’s no substitute for it. And that training must begin on day one.

According to one Harvard Business Review article, it typically takes eight months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity. Without the right training for the new members of your sales team, that can be eight long months.

What You Can Do:

Keep your salespeople sharp and develop new sales team members by giving them the sales training resources needed for success.

2. Aligning Sales and Marketing Teams

When sales and marketing are aligned, big results are the outcome: one study found that businesses with effective sales and marketing alignment achieved 208% higher marketing revenue than organizations with disjointed teams.

The old-school sales/marketing mix worked like this: marketing generated leads, then passed them to sales and hoped they close the deal. This created silos and, ultimately, failure.

But a more modern approach to this problem requires marketing support through each part of the sales cycle. Sales teams require high-quality content that addresses concerns and leads to long-term partnerships with customers.

What You Can Do:

In-depth collaboration between teams won’t happen by itself. You must increase the lines of communication between groups, possible organization chart alignment, seating proximity of departments and welcome feedback in both directions. And to get a real push, offer incentives to spur sales and marketing alignment.

3. Ensure Technology Adoption

Lead tracking and automation tools aren’t just in tech-focused sales organizations. Nowadays, tools such as Salesforce power the sales efforts of all kinds of companies in a wide array of industries.

That said, getting every team member on board with unfamiliar lead nurturing systems and CRM tools can’t be done in a flip of the switch. They can be challenging to use and an afterthought for set-in-their-ways sales team members.

What You Can Do:

Inspiring CRM adoption through incentives is a great way of making sure your sales team is putting your tools to use. It is basic human nature: when you see great behavior and reward it, the recipient will repeat it. When you offer a powerful incentive award for participating in game-changing sales practices, you address a major reason many CRMs fail: slow end-user adoption.

4. Accelerate Incentives and Recognition

Sales force compensation and incentives are a big expense for companies. In fact, sales force compensation represents the single largest marketing investment for most B2B companies, and U.S. companies alone spend more than $800 billion on it each year—three times more than they spend on advertising.

While performance-based cash incentives are the most popular form of compensation, recent research shows that money might not be the be-all and end-all of incentives.

Behavioral psychologist Dan Ariely devised an experiment where he offered incentives—cash, compliments and pizza—to employees who performed above expectations. And it wasn’t cash that got real results. Pizza (a tangible award) and compliments (meaningful recognition) took the lead.

What You Can Do:

When it comes to monetary versus non-monetary incentives, think further than cash. It gets deposited into a bank account and spent like a regular paycheck, on gas, food and other unmemorable purchases. Nobody brags about their cash bonus, so you lose all the “buzz factor” of your expense. But when you offer awards as an incentive, your people will see a real trophy value behind what they earn. Turn your expense into an investment.

5. Go Global with Incentive Travel

Awards will only go so far. Outstanding performance warrants an outstanding incentive: travel.

When you offer your people an incentive travel trip that pushes them past what they thought was possible, nothing can stand in their way. Incentive travel programs can be a successful way to push the profitability of your company.

And it’s more than a great prize—there are substantial business results as well: Properly designed and executed incentive travel programs can increase sales productivity by 18% and produce an ROI of 112%.

Plus, when you put incentive travel into practice, you’re in great company: 100% of best-in-class companies (those with the highest customer retention and sales growth) offer group incentive travel to recognize year-end sales success.

What You Can Do:

If you’re already offering incentive travel, consider ways to take your program further by creating even more impressive experiences, and don’t forget to consider the importance of risk management.

6. Get Strategic With Incentives and Recognition

Incentives and recognition might be a part of your playbook already, as they are for countless sales teams. But what’s working now might not work later. A strategic approach designed to ratchet up performance will ensure sustainable growth for the long term, not just short-term gains.

As a Harvard Business Review article details, companies can encourage better performance from their teams by segmenting their audience and putting targeted emphasis on different tiers of sales performance. By incrementally stepping performance and considering how to nurture the different players on your team, you’ll uncover growth in your A players and everyone else.

What You Can Do:

Consider what really motivates your people to get enormous results. What drives a seasoned member of your sales team might not be encouraging to a younger one, so why offer them the same incentive? Consider a strategic, targeted sales incentive solution to build energizing sales momentum using specific, identified motivators that move your people.

Rob Danna

Rob Danna

With a 25-year background in technology and sales management, Rob brings real-world performance improvement solutions to hundreds of large companies. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ITA Group, he prides himself by staying on the front lines of performance improvement technology and innovation.