“Don’t confuse activity with productivity. Busyness rarely takes care of business.” — Darren Hardy
B2B Sales is generally a high-pressure, results-driven environment– which is why sales productivity is so important.
From senior sales leaders down to entry-level sales reps, sales professionals continuously seek ways to be more efficient, effective, and achieve their goals faster. Yet, the majority of established firms struggle with sales productivity. Partly to blame can be a sales culture that promotes outdated, ineffective, or just plain flawed practices.
If your organization (or sales leader) subscribes to these productivity myths, they might explain struggles with sales productivity and sales goal attainment:
Myth #1 – The most productive sales reps make the most calls or prospect visits.
If sales results are suffering, the instinct is to have sales reps make more calls or prospect visits. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a high call volume– but it should not take priority over the call or visit quality. Instead, sales professionals should focus (in order) on engaging the right company, followed by the right contact.
Rather than making more calls or prospect visits, time is better spent researching the right companies and connections to make the right calls or prospect visits consistently.
Myth #2 – It’s a waste of time to follow up with uninterested leads and prospects.
Salespeople rarely reach a prospect on the first attempt. Yet many sales reps give up after the first attempt and move on to different prospects. In fact, Hubspot states that sales reps make an average of 1.3 calls to a prospect before moving on to new prospects.
I get it– why spend time on something that doesn’t seem like it’s going to pan out? But, time spent following up with leads isn’t wasted time. Many research studies show that 80% of closed deals required at least five follow-ups before a successful first contact. And I don’t mean five contacts on the same day or five contacts over five days.
If the target company is a good prospect, and the target contact is the right person to speak with, multiple calls and emails are likely needed over a time to achieve success.
Myth#3 – Start at the top or the bottom.
Two trains of thought here: start at the top and let them push you down to someone else, or start at the bottom and work your way up (aka trying to do brain surgery by going through the belly button).
In today’s competitive world, getting the attention of a C-level executive can be challenging, although worth the effort, if you have a product or solution conversation that will have a C-level impact. While working your way up from a low-level tactical contact to a strategic C-level conversation NEVER HAPPENS (e.g., brain surgery by going through the belly button).
The best approach is to target contacts that match the conversation that your salespeople are prepared to have. For example, if you are selling office products to large law firms, the office or operations manager may be the best contact to approach. Conversely, if you are trying to sell the same law firms errors and omissions liability insurance, you probably need to start with the senior administrative partner.
Targeting the right contact at the right company is what’s important.
There’s no magic here. Methods that work for one sales organization may not work for another, and vice versa.
Sales productivity practices that are commonly accepted does not mean they work best. Replace these popular misconceptions with more modern, efficient strategies, and you will see your sales productivity and results rise.