Sales is a critical area for businesses, so sales operations tend to get a lot of attention. When this attention works well, it results in a high-functioning sales team that can handle new opportunities and challenges as they arise.
But often enough, it creates operations that are bloated and inefficient as one quick fix piles on top of another. Wondering if you could stand to streamline your corporate sales operations? Here are some ideas:
1. Pare down your meetings.
Meetings matter, but not in the ways corporations may have imagined in the past. While some real-time communication (either in person or online) is important, much of what takes place in meetings could be more efficiently communicated through an email.
Asynchronous communication allows people who are focused on their work to maintain that state until they’re ready to take a break and think about something else, which improves both efficiency and quality of work. Whether you decide to hold meetings less often or limit frequent meetings to a strict time limit, you may find your sales team is more efficient than ever.
2. Automate what you can
The role of human connection in sales cannot be overestimated, which causes some leaders to shy away from the idea of automation. But automation can actually free your sales team up to focus on the parts of their work that are most meaningful.
Rather than running reports, tracking calls, and trying to prioritize which leads to follow up on, they can spend that time working directly with current and potential clients, capitalizing on their most important skill set: sales.
3. Focus on results, not schedules
How much time is spent juggling schedules and online calendars? How much is spent asking for permission to attend a conference on this date or visit the dentist at that time? And then the key question: how much of that is necessary? Studies have shown that workers with flexible, results-focused schedules accomplish more, work longer hours, and enjoy their jobs more than those whose work emphasizes face time.
Obviously, there are some positions (like call center representatives) where timing is more important for productivity. But for others, results come first. Why not offer them the opportunity to align their priorities accordingly?
4. Make your trainings count
If trainings for your sales team consist of employees passively listening to information, that time is not being used wisely. Psychologists who study learning have found that merely listening or viewing information isn’t as an effective method of learning as practicing information retrieval. Retrieving information from memory, it turns out, isn’t just a neutral process; it actually solidifies that information in the brain.
In a one-on-one setting this can happen through individual questioning. In a large group, audience response systems are a simple and effective way to encourage repeated information retrieval throughout the duration of the training without derailing the flow of the gathering itself. Better information retention over time means fewer mistakes, less need for re-training, and a more effective team overall.
5. Make learning and reflection part of your process
If documentation and reflection are things that happen only quarterly or annually in your business, you may be missing out on some of the best learning, which often happens right after a conversation takes place or a sale is made (or fails to be made).
While adding to an already busy day doesn’t seem like it would streamline your sales operations, studies show that deliberate reflection—even just for a few minutes—improves performance significantly. And if that reflection is documented in an easy-to-access format, imagine how much time you’ll save when it comes to consolidate all that learning across your entire team.
6. Push one metric at a time
When a team needs or wants to improve, there are two extreme options that leaders often default to. On one side, there are those who control every aspect of the improvement process, laying down exactly what methods will be attempted from the top down. On the other extreme are those who focus exclusively on individual improvement, allowing each member of the team to chart their own path towards better functioning.
In between these two is the idea of focused improvement. Psychologists have found that individuals focus best on one goal at a time, and groups are no different. In this case, one particular metric is selected for improvement across the board, allowing individuals, groups, and teams to experiment with the methods while the learning generated is still meaningful across the board. After a period of time (a quarter, say), best practices can be discerned, and new metrics selected.
7. Develop a process for everything
When you’re a new business or team, processes tend to be whatever the first people involved happened to land on. As a larger company, this is no longer sufficient. If there is wide variability in the amount of time a certain task takes, ask yourself whether there is a process in place.
Even just a simple survey of how employees carry out a certain task can illuminate what is and isn’t an effective method of taking care of a given task. Asking your sales team to develop processes takes time in the short term, but the long term gains are invaluable, especially as the team grows.
Sales is too important to be dragged down by inefficiency.
For the tools that can help you get things running smoothly, contact Option Technology today.