5 ways to increase sales productivity

Close more deals by getting more efficient.

By Josh Bean, Director, Marketing

Published March 12, 2019
Last updated September 21, 2021

Did you know that sales reps spend only 22% of their time actively selling? How about your own sales team? Do you know how productive your team actually is?

Here's how to evaluate or measure your sales productivity:

Evaluate sales productivity

If you're either a Sales Productivity Amateur or Sales Productivity Newbie, there are several possible reasons why:

  • Siloed departments
  • Too many manual administrative tasks
  • Stressful work environments
  • Lack of access to the right content
  • Focus on the wrong prospects

These are all common reasons why sales reps struggle to be productive.

Maximize your sales reps' selling time and increase sales productivity with the following strategies:

1. Implement a sales team shadowing program

Sales team shadowing

Department goals are typically at odds. For example, sales teams are pushed to have conversations while support teams are pushed to end conversations. Thus, opportunities are thus missed and communication is unclear, resulting in lower productivity.

Break down silos and align your sales, marketing, and support departments. Create touch points, and streamline communication so every team is aware of what the other department is telling the customer. Determine common goals, and encourage sharing between departments.

One way to align departments is to create a shadowing program such as “Sales rep for a day.” Benefits include team building, new skill development, and a stronger understanding of the customer. All of these benefits contribute to sales productivity.

Here are steps for creating a shadowing program:

  1. Pitch the idea/schedule a team meeting

    Get everyone, including marketing and support leaders, on board with the idea.

  2. Hold a short training session for participants

    Provide training material and offer answers to questions like, "What does your sales pipeline look like?" and "How does your sales process work?"

  3. Begin the shadowing rotation

    Allow employees to shadow your sales reps' activities once or twice a month. Activities could be sitting in on cold calls, product demos, and follow-up calls.

  4. Debrief the team

    Send out surveys and measure the results of the program. Ask questions, such as, What will you consider changing because of your shadowing experience, or what have you already changed?

You can apply an interdepartmental shadowing program for other departments as well, but the point is to get departments communicating with each other to improve their customer activities.

2. Optimize the sales process with CRM automation

Employees waste time every day on mundane yet necessary tasks. According to a report from ServiceNow, 90% of managers spend two days every week on administrative tasks, and 20% of respondents said that they spend three days or more.

If your reps are missing opportunities to meaningfully connect with the customer, automate tasks that are repetitive and take away from core selling activities — tasks such as manual data entry and email reminders.

Your CRM can automate and significantly improve tasks within the sales process. Ask yourself questions about the tool you currently have:

  • Does your CRM have a built-in call tool?
  • Are your sales tools integrated with your CRM?
  • Are conversations accessible across sales-tool platforms?
  • Are some of your emails automated?

Sell offers Automated Actions to streamline the workflow within our CRM. For example, you can create tasks every time you add a contact or assign new tasks to your team when a deal moves stages. This feature helps eliminate manual data entry for sales tracking.

Automated actions


In addition to automation, your CRM should make your customer communication process better. Documentation and the ability to review conversations are crucial to getting customer relationships right. Your CRM is most helpful when it’s integrated with all of your sales tools.

3. Encourage sales productivity in creative ways

Nothing hurts sales productivity as much as your reps not feeling motivated. When employees feel excited and appreciated, they are more apt to perform their responsibilities to the best of their ability.

Boost productivity and performance with motivational strategies. The strategies don’t have to be expensive: Nonfinancial incentives can be just as effective (if not more so) than financial incentives.

Celebrate wins

Big or small, let your reps know that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. For example, if a rep reaches their quota, celebrate with a “champagne campaign” by placing a bottle of champagne on their desk.

Encourage team building

As with the shadowing program detailed above, find ways to help team members engage with each other. Monthly lunches, mandatory meet-up times, and friendly sales contests are all activities that can help break down silos and foster a culture of communication.

Watercooler on Slack

Mandatory “watercooler” meet-ups are an excellent way to build trust between employees

Send motivational emails

Especially before a quarter close, send out messages to encourage your reps. Balance directive emails with lighter messages. Demonstrate confidence in your team’s abilities.

Focus on the right metrics

Make sure that your metrics are customer-centric. Implement metrics that encourage a focus on customer quality such as LTV and lead to conversion rate.

Higher levels of output can be achieved when employees believe that management actually cares about them and not just the bottom line.

4. Create a resource library for sales reps

Seventy percent of marketing content never gets used by sales because it's not relevant. And according to The Whole Brain Group, “65% of sales reps say they can't find content to send to prospects.” Two things need to happen: Your team needs the right content at the right time.

What objections do your customers typically have? What videos, blog posts, or ebooks can the marketing department provide sales to overcome these objections? Collaborate with the marketing team to align content marketing with sales and create effective bottom-of-the-funnel content.

Even with the right content, opportunities to connect with a potential customer can be missed because reps can't find the resource. Ensure that the right sales-enablement material is easily accessible. Don’t make sales reps wait for someone in marketing to respond with a link — by then, it could be too late.

Create an online location where both the sales team and the marketing team can access and add new sales-enablement material. One method is to create a Google spreadsheet that includes different categories:

  • Type of resource (e.g. blog post)
  • Title of the resource
  • Category
  • Buyer personas
  • Link or file download

You can also use a tool like Airtable to organize resources. The template below gives the option to sort assets by Type, Format, Industry, Market, etc.

Airtable template

Use a tool that's easy for sales reps to leave comments in real time and ask marketing for new resources if needed.

5. Focus on quality leads

Just because your team is generating a lot of leads does not mean that they are the right kinds of leads. Too many sales reps waste time on leads that won’t end up turning into sales. Don't chase leads that aren't likely to turn into customers. Your reps need to focus on quality over quantity.

To qualify leads, start by segmenting your prospects. Who are they? What are their pain points? What keeps them awake at night? Based on this information, lay down lead criteria. What points of contact are you looking for? What size company?

Leads should match your buyer personas. Notice the example below. John Johnson represents a company's B2B persona. It outlines clear information about his position and his decision-making status. To make sure their efforts speak directly to the ideal customer, your reps should consistently consult buyer personas.

Quality lead


Next, what is your lead strategy? Do you vet them before or after an initial conversation? Score your leads to quickly and easily see whether they're worth your time.

Think of lead qualification as your vetting process. It should be one of your reps' core selling activities. Quickly qualifying leads enhances productivity, and qualified leads increase the chance of actually closing a deal.

Become a sales productivity pro

If your sales team is struggling with productivity, do an audit to determine why. Once you've highlighted areas that need improvement, implement strategies to overcome these challenges and reach the next level of sales productivity.

Not only will it help your reps, but your customers will benefit as well.

This post originally ran on the Base blog. Please visit if you’d like to learn more about Zendesk Sell.

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