As a CEO, I absolutely love visiting customers. In the early days of my company,  ToutApp, I would spend time sitting next to our actual users to see how they worked. So, there I was sitting along side a salesperson at one of our customer's companies. 

I observed the salesperson navigate through their day, as someone that absolutely hates doing repetitive work, I was horrified.

The average salesperson today has a million browser tabs open, has to circumnavigate between a Email, Calendar, LinkedIn, Salesforce, their Phone, countless sales tools designed to "help them" and more.

When you dig into the industry statistics, they're even scarier:

  • 71% of reps say they spend too much time doing data entry (according to The Economist)
  • Only 33% of a salesperson's time is spent on actual selling (according to CSO Insights)

Sales leaders today also complain about "tools fatigue." Too many tools, too much spend, not enough ROI. And in some cases, not enough adoption. 

So today, based on our thousands of hours of research, I want to highlight five silent killers in your sales organization that you can fix without having to buy any more technology.

Killer #1 - Work that machines should be doing

The first silent killer in your sales organization is simple: it's work that your salespeople are doing, that they probably love to do because it's low intellectual work, but feels good to do because it's repetitive and you can feel a sense of accomplishment that you "did stuff" after finishing it.

Examples of work that machines should be doing include:

  • Manually having to find the email address or list of people to prospect into a target account
  • Manually looking up data on leads, contacts or opportunities that could easily be coded or done by a low cost resource offshore

Find the things that you could have your highly paid salesperson doing, and they'll feel a sense of accomplishment in checking off that task, but it's probably not high ROI for you or for that person's quota. Outsource that work.

Killer #2 - Data Entry for the Manager's Sake

How many required fields do you have in your CRM?

Whenever I visit sales teams, I constantly find sales operations teams requiring data for data's sake. They have zero views into how they'll analyze that data, a ton of it is "nice to have data" that some data analyst that will get hired at some point in time will have a field day analyzing, but in reality will never get used.

So, before you require that field, ask yourself: are you asking some of the most expensive resources in the company to do data entry for nobody's sake?

Killer #3 - # of Clicks it takes to Book a Meeting

Whether you're prospecting or closing deals, you need to book meetings. Go sit next to your top rep, and watch that person send an email trying to coordinate a meeting.

It's scary to watch. You'll find that it takes an average of 3 to 5 emails to actually find a time to meet, and in order to suggest times they have to do a complicated rain dance between their email, their calendar, and sometimes their colleague's calendars to figure out times that work which they then have to painfully type into their email window.

Measure the number of clicks it takes to do this basic core task for a salesperson and then ask, what else is tedious for you?

Killer #4 - How often do they "not know?"

In software engineering, studies have shown that a "quick 5 minute interruption" results in upwards of an hour of loss of productivity. 

How many times have you been interrupted with a "quick question on a deal" or "where was that PDF from marketing again?" How often do you salespeople get into the flow and then hit upon something they "don't know."

What if you could identify the Top 10 things every week that your reps "Didn't know" about what to do about? How many hours of productivity would you save for your reps if you eliminated them?

How do you fix this?

Frank Swain, our CRO here at ToutApp who has taken multiple companies from $0m to $30m+ says his job #1 is to remove friction across the sales process. Asking your reps about what else gives them friction but they just grunt through it can give you a view into what other areas of friction you can remove from your sales process.

My recommendation is to do a sales productivity audit with your team by running a simple survey. Consider exploring these basic questions with your reps:

  • How many hours are you spending on data entry or repetitive work?
  • How many hours are spent on entering data into your CRM?
  • How many times a day do you get "stuck" and need to ask for help?

The silent killer in sales teams are friction points across. Chase some of these down and you'll immediately improve the output of your sales team.

Published on: Apr 28, 2016