To improve a sales team’s efficiency, I start by assessing the team’s sales enablement efforts. In many sales organizations, the attempts to enable are actually disabling sellers by creating staggering inefficiencies and, even worse, impairing sales effectiveness. You can’t shift to agile selling if your systems and processes operate like the tail wagging the dog.
Efficient, Agile Selling
When the primary desired outcome of a new initiative is efficiency, the resulting choices can wreak havoc. Many systems, tools, processes, and practices have been implemented in an effort to gain efficiency. Far too often, the unintended consequences include a dramatic decline in sales productivity and lost sales opportunities. Efficiency alone should never be the aim.
For example, one sales management team introduced a new pipeline tool that produced flashy dashboard reports updating in real time. The efficiency (for managers) was at-a-glance insights into goal attainment and sales activity. The inefficiency, however, was in the expectation that sellers continually update the system. It was highly disruptive taking time to:
- Log in
- Report data
- Schedule follow-up actions
- Make projections
- Add notes from the prospect engagement
Not surprisingly, this organization saw an 18% slippage in sales in the first 3 months and a decline of 32% new contacts made.
It’s All About Sales Effectiveness
Sellers are most effective when they can get “in the zone” and focus exclusively on the most important work that needs to be done -- selling! Interruptions impair sales, both in time lost and in distracted focus. It takes time to shift to the tasks of reporting and back into the mojo of selling.
To stop inadvertently disabling sales efficiency, leaders need to look closely at the impact any sales enablement tool has on the work of selling. Sales effectiveness ought to be the aim, and any efficiency that impairs effectiveness isn’t true efficiency at all.