5 Quick Fixes for a Lacklustre Sales Team

Wondering what your salespeople really do all day? You're not alone. The may be hitting targets, but they could do more. How to jumpstart their productivity

Written by Matthew Cook

“I have no idea what these sales guys do all day.” This came up in a recent conversation I had with a friend of mine who is the CFO at a mid-sized company. It’s not the first time someone who isn’t a sales rep but relies on their results has said this. The frustration: your team is hitting targets, but you feel they could be doing more. What do you do? It may daunting, but there are actually a few quick, effective ways for any business to create a more efficient, highly motivated sales team.

1. Give them a process to follow

Sales people can waste a lot of time thinking about what to do next or who to call. Having a clearly defined sales process with metrics can save a lot of time. Sales process takes the guesswork out of what to do next because all the steps and metrics are clearly indicated. Many sales people rely on their ability to adapt quickly to situations in order to make a sale. But if the selling process is mapped out, not only will the rep be more productive, you will have a better handle on exactly how they’re performing. For example, once a sales rep has qualified an opportunity, the next step should be a standardized proposal. Once the proposal is sent, schedule a follow-up call with the prospect in three days. This way every sales rep is engaging in the same behaviour, leading to better results.

2. Track them

CRM software is very helpful in making sales people more productive. It organizes opportunities, accounts, leads and where they all are in the sales pipeline. It helps to keep track of who your sales people need to talk to and when and stores all information about your prospects and customers. The CRM is a warehouse for all sorts of data points on your customers. Data that can be used by your sales team to help determine who they should be speaking to each day.


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When used correctly, CRM’s can help save a lot of time and improve a sales person’s productivity. The challenge is, without a well-defined sales process to go along with a CRM, sales people can spend a lot of wasted time in the CRM. And the CRM is only effective when sales people enter all the necessary information about an opportunity or customer.

Read: Why Sales Reps Hate CRMs

3. Schedule power blocks

Sales people should have structure to their day. They should be spending blocks of times doing certain tasks where they will be more productive. Power blocks are one way to achieve this. A power block is a 45 minute block of time where they focus on one activity and one activity only. For example, if they’re making follow up calls on proposals they’ve sent out, they should only be making follow up calls. Shut down their email, close the door to their office (or go into a boardroom), don’t answer your phone (unless someone is calling you about a proposal) and just make those calls. Take 15 minutes to record all the outcomes in the CRM and then start on your next power block. This forces sales people to do one thing for a 45 minute block of time without distractions, improving productivity.

4. Keep the leads flowing

One way to improve the productivity of your sales team is to make sure they have a steady stream of qualified leads to call. The hardest part of any sales job is finding someone who has a need for your product or service and is willing to buy now. If your sales people spent all day talking to people who are ready to buy now instead of trying to find those people, think about how productive they would be.

How do you get a steady stream of leads? By implementing an inbound marketing strategy where you leverage your web assets (website, white papers, blogs, case studies) to drive traffic to your website and convert visitors to leads. There are a number of inbound marketing agencies that can help you optimize your web assets and convert website traffic to qualified leads. It’s easier to sell to someone who already knows they want to buy from you.

Read: The Inbound Marketing Model

5. Don’t let them overlook the low-hanging fruit

While it may sound like common sense, it’s amazing how often sales people miss easy opportunities that are right in front of them. Existing customers are the best source of new revenue opportunities and if tracked properly in a CRM system, you can easily see buying patterns from your customers. For example, a customer may make repeated purchases of a product every year and most sales reps would wait for the call and take the order. By proactively researching and probing with the customer, you open up the possibility that they could buy more from you or perhaps purchase a new product or service that they weren’t even aware of.

Matthew Cook has 17 years of sales and sales management experience, primarily in the financial services and staffing industries. He is founder of SalesForce Search Ltd., which was No. 4 on the PROFIT HOT 50 ranking of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies in 2010 and No. 19 in 2011.

More columns by Matthew Cook

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