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Curing the Sales Productivity Gap with Technology

While sales departments move to innovate and become more customer-centric, the day-to-day sales process is still overrun by time-consuming administrative tasks, inaccessible customer information, and antiquated management systems. In our work with heavy equipment manufacturers and dealers, we hear these complaints every day. Field sales reps feel stuck in antiquated processes that just don’t work any more.

On average, sales reps spend 64% of their time on non-selling tasks.

If sales reps aren’t armed with capabilities at least as advanced as those of their customers, they risk continually falling short of customer demands. Modern technologies like analytics, mobile tools, and automation (generally) can go quite a long way to improving a sales rep’s daily productivity. Analytics tracks and interprets actionable customer data. Mobile sales apps allow reps to look at those insights instantly as well as act on the information from anywhere. Automation provides relief from human error, manual data entry, and cumbersome processes.

Inefficient Processes Hinder Sales Teams

Decreased productivity impacts the success of not only sales, but also the entire company. Among teams who cite ineffective internal processes as their top challenge, they point to excessive administrative tasks as the primary cause.

Percentage of Sales Teams Who Say the Following Are Reasons Why Ineffective Internal Processes Is Their Sales Challenge (ref. SalesForce State of Sales Report 2017)
Excessive administrative tasks (i.e., not enough time to sell) 45%
Lack of time for face-to-face selling 22%
Limited insight into issues until it’s too late/lack of timely insight into the sales process 21%
Lack of alignment with marketing (e.g., poor leads, ineffective content) 19%
It takes too long to respond to customer inquiries 18%

The majority of the success of the entire sales organization relies upon the productivity and efficiency of its reps. Sales reps are the primary enablers of the customers’ experience throughout the sales process. These employees are in the field and on the ground engaging customers, facilitating new deals. However, according to Quotable’s “Day in the Life of a Salesperson” report, though half of sales reps say that relationship-building is their favorite activity, the data in fact show that most of their time is still spent on non-selling tasks such as manually entering data, calendering, and account maintenance.

Sales Reps Aren’t Spending Most of Their Time Selling

While half of sales reps report relationship-building as their favorite activity (consistent with our own experience), most are too bogged down by day-to-day tasks to engage with customers as much as they’d like. Again, on average, sales reps spend 64% of their time on non-selling tasks. That is alarming. To sales managers, this should be completely unacceptable. 

In the end, Sales reps are looking for tools that give them an edge by saving them some of that time they are spending NOT selling. These tools can come in any form, as long as it gives them more selling time. If there are certain processes that are endlessly repeated, automation may be the answer. But, ultimately, the right answer depends on the question.

  1. Spending too much time looking for sales / marketing collateral or other product info? Digital asset management can deliver up-to-date material online or offline.
  2. Does it take too much too to respond to customer inquiries? Perhaps a new CRM system like SalesForce and some custom process automation will do the trick.
  3. Lack of alignment with marketing? A mobile sales app or digital sales tool might be able to to deliver the right marketing assets.

While every sales organization faces its own problems and opportunities, any field sales force can help itself by tracking what percentage of its time it’s spending NOT selling. Any technology that can help to reduce that inefficiency is going to generate more sales.

 

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