Ten Tips to Increase Sales Productivity and Sell More With Salesforce

Time is Money

In the selling profession, time is money; managing your time is absolutely paramount to hitting your sales quota. If you run the numbers, a salesperson with a million dollar quota is worth $520 an hour. For larger quotas, the hourly rates get really impressive:  $2 million dollar quota = $1,040 per hour, $4 million: $2,080. You get the picture.  As you can see, spending time on non-sales activities (like sitting in meetings) during prime selling hours can be very detrimental to your goals of hitting those numbers.

Unfortunately, time is a finite resource that few salespeople or sales managers optimize effectively. Why? Most managers look at a salesperson’s time from a salary-per-hour perspective, and not using sales velocity metrics (dollars generated per hour). When the true cost of your sales team's time is revealed, it is more than obvious that prioritizing how they put that time to use is imperitive. Without a framework to support best practices in time management, easy sales can become lost opportunities.

The upside? Salesforce offers a variety of methods and tools to help you manage your time more efficiently and increase your sales velocity. When it’s set up correctly and the right techniques are applied, Salesforce will allow you to focus your time on the right leads and the right opportunities at the right time.  The end result:  you will close more sales, more quickly, thereby increasing your sales velocity. 

Ultimately, with Salesforce you can work smarter without having to work harder. 

Here are ten practical ways to increase sales productivity and sell more with Salesforce today:

  1. For managing a high volume of leads, try leveraging the Salesforce console (available only in certain editions) or use Salesforce views and your browser’s "open in a new tab" feature to work a list of leads and opportunities. This will allow you to multi-task more effectively within Salesforce.
  2. Categorize your leads by stage. Create a custom lead stage field with no more than 5 stages that define your company’s sales process. This field is similar to the opportunity stage field but is customized just for leads and your sales process.
  3. Score or grade your leads with a scoring system. Use BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline) or other qualifying methodology that matches your sales process. Use the lead status field or a custom field to capture this data. For example, typical values could be: BANT Qualified, Junk Lead, Bad Fit, Not Ready for Sales. 
  4. Prioritize and filter your leads based on score and lead stage. The lead stage should be based on customer lifecycle, defined jointly by sales and marketing.  Create a custom view on the leads tab to display leads filtered and prioritized by score and stage. It is absolutely critical you focus only on sales-ready leads. Leads that are not sales ready should be turned over to marketing for lead nurture programs.
  5. Only focus on calling and emailing leads that meet specific high value BANT criteria and/or stage criteria, e.g., Ready for Sales, Immediate Need, Have a Budget.
  6. Nurture leads that are not ready for sales or don’t meet BANT criteria with automated email marketing programs.
  7. Add custom fields to the lead record to store a “Next Step” text field and add a “Next Step Date” field. Record a short one-sentence description of the next step in the sales process in this field along with the date on which this should occur. Display these two fields in the lead list view(s) in Salesforce. This will allow you to keep important tasks with leads and opportunities at your fingertips.
  8. Prioritize your opportunities by amount, close date, next step date, and probability. Create custom views on the opportunities tab to display leads filtered and prioritized by BANT criteria and stage.
  9. Focus on working (more calls, GoToMeetings, memos, emails, and effort) the opportunities that are the largest amounts, highest probability, and nearest close dates.
  10. Utilize the next step field and add a custom next step date field on opportunities. Display these two fields in the opportunity list view(s) in Salesforce. Record a short one-sentence description of the next step in the sales process in this field along with the date on which this should occur.

While these 10 methods are not the only ways to increase sales productivity and don’t fit every sales organization, they will create a solid foundation for achieving maximum productivity for organizations operating in a high volume lead and opportunity environment. 

Disclaimer on the BANT qualification process mentioned in the list above: It should be noted that traditional BANT qualification and inquiry techniques tend to have limited effectiveness in today’s modern selling environment. Buyers now have a tremendous amount of information before purchasing and tend not to disclose how far along they are in the buying process.

Most studies point to the fact that buyers are about half way through the buyer journey before they initiate contact with the salesperson. For this reason you should leverage other tools and techniques to gauge a buyer’s real intent. For example, in Salesforce you can review email opens of emails you send out via Salesforce and most marketing automation systems.  If you have a good marketing automation system in place you can also measure and score clicks on links in emails and visits to certain pages on your website. Should you determine that visits to the pricing page on your website signals higher buyer intent, you should prioritize these leads and opportunities accordingly in your pipeline.