Why is Sales Productivity such a huge deal?

Last week, at the AA-ISP conference in San Francisco, I was invited on stage to talk about Inside Sales. In this blog post, I’ll summarize the talk I gave about how Sales Productivity is the silent killer in the fast scaling inside sales industry today, and the 5 key killers you can focus on today to improve your bottom line.

This is Part 1 of a 2-part post. On this part, I’ll talk through WHY Sales Productivity is a silent killer and how you should be thinking about it.

First, Some Scary Stats on Sales Productivity

Scary Stats around Sales Productivity

Studies done between CSO Insights, Gartner and others continually show that while Inside Sales is growing bigger and bigger as a model for selling, the productivity across the industry is continuing to decline.

Does this mean that Inside Selling as a model is flawed? Absolutely not. What it actually means is that Inside Selling is getting to be bigger than ever, with ACVs at an all time high — quickly rivaling Field Sales. However, as we’re building larger and larger Inside Selling teams and as we’re chasing bigger and bigger deals, our systems, processes, best practices, and most importantly our software, simply isn’t scaling as effectively.

Salespeople are in danger of being disenfranchised

Did you know that on average sales leaders spend nearly $20,000/year/rep to improve their sales productivity? The scary part about this number is that while spending those large amounts — salespeople are still only spending 1/3rd of their day on actual selling. The rest of it is just busy work.

Even worse, while inside sales people have shown up and continued to show incredible value, the basic set of tools that they’re using for the core part of their business day still looks and works the same! In fact, it has looked and worked roughly the same for the better part of the last decade.

Decades old tools that Salespeople use

I purposefully used that older screenshot of Salesforce.com, because while the colors have changed, the overall framework of what Sales software looks like for salespeople simply hasn’t changed in the past decade.

Sales Software Needs to Step Up

My message to the audience was simple. The software stack, the set of tools that we give our salespeople as they reach new heights, simply hasn’t evolved as fast as our sales people and our sales models have. And it’s time that we demand better from the sales stack we use and we demand that we simply have better sales software.

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 12.36.55 PM

And just to be clear, I’m not talking about the 18-different tools we buy for our reps to augment Gmail and Outlook. I’m talking about a true end-to-end solution that truly helps salespeople sell better. I’m talking about the sales software salespeople deserve to be using over the next decade.

To Solve This, We Need To Shift Our Mindset

The fundamental flaw that exists today is that we’re trying to scale Inside Selling to new heights while using the same set of operational processes we’ve used over the past decade. This includes software, this includes training, and this includes how we think about measuring and enabling salespeople. Our entire mindset on how we approach these things need to change if we’re going to scale Inside Selling.

The irony here is that Sales Leaders tend to be some of the smartest, driven and most creative people I’ve come across. And so while they conceptually understand that things need to scale better, they tend to resort to looking at everything but the software and their processes to help solve their problems — because simply put: they’re not engineers, they’re salespeople. So they focus on more training, or more meetings, or more play books.

In Part 2 of this article, I’ll help you change your mindset on how you too can think like an engineer and eradicate the Top 5 silent killers of sales productivity. I’ll teach you the key things we look at when we develop our sales platform and how if you look at the same things, you can drive immediate benefits to your sales productivity and bottom line. Stay tuned.