In 2023, sales reps on average spend only 28% of their time selling, according to Salesforce. Furthermore, according to CSO Insights, only 33% of inside sales-reps’ time is spent actively selling. So why is this?
Sales is a notoriously stressful job with a higher churn rate compared to other positions. This, combined with economic factors of 2023, such as major tech layoffs, has led to a tough time for sales. Don’t be too hard on your team, but also acknowledge how important it is to maximize the effectiveness of your time right now.
The best way to maximize your sales effectiveness is to eliminate major unnecessary time sinks. Addressing these time sinks is difficult, as they can become ingrained as part of your team’s regular work schedule. However, identifying the bottlenecks in your pipeline will dramatically improve your sales volume in the long run.
In this post, we’ll be going through examples of common time wasters for sales reps and give some advice on how to address them.
1. Overwhelming Sales Stack
How many tools are involved in your sales process? Is your CRM separate from your sales analytics tool? Can you manage your team through your CRM?
According to Salesforce, 66% of sales reps say that they’re drowning in tools. It takes a lot of time for a sales rep to navigate complicated tech stacks in order for them to make a single sale. That time is better spent pursuing leads and engaging with your customers.
So how can you mitigate the amount of tools used? The first step is to be more cautious about adding new tools to your sales team’s portfolio. Is this new tool necessary? Does a tool that you already use have the same functionality available?
Beyond this, audit the tools that you currently use and see which ones are being used and whether they’re being properly integrated into your sales process. Consider interviewing or surveying your team on the tools they use and how they use them. Take this audit a step further by mapping out the workflow to show how leads originate and the paths they travel through to become long-term, satisfied customers. Identify which tools are ignored and which tools provide redundancies and eliminate them. Or, if a tool has just one or two useful functionalities, consolidate your tools into a single or couple tools that can perform a lot of different functions.
2. Automate Sales Pipeline
In the previous section, we cautioned against having too many tools in your sales tech stack. In this section, we're going to contradict that ... a little.
Your sales pipeline is vital to the success of your company and is often gradually updated to track how your customers progress through the purchasing process. However, too-frequent manual updates to this pipeline can take up a lot of your team’s time.
For the sales tech tools that you do have, make sure you're using them to their full potential. The benefits of sales automation include:
Increases sales team's efficiency by automating repetitive tasks
Improves lead generation by separating non-qualified leads from hot prospects
Improves existing customer retention by automating repetitive tasks so account managers can provide value
Access to data and analytics that provide insights into SDRs' performance
Improved customer experience, especially if you can set them up to self-serve basic needs
To minimize frequent updates, consider automating the process with the tools that you have available. For example, consider using Supernormal, an AI that will create meeting notes for you. Or, if you use a system like Salesforce, Hubspot, Pipedrive, or something similar, consider investing in quarterly training sessions for your sales team, so they understand all the nuances and built-in sales automation features.
3. Generating New Leads
Finding new leads is the #1 most common pain point sales reps face, according to Autoklose. It’s extremely difficult to get in front of people that your brand’s product or service is actually relevant. Finding new customers is a time-consuming process that results in a lot of dead ends.
A solution to automate the lead generation process is using a web-based dataset such as Biscred. In the commercial real estate (CRE) industry, Biscred categorizes companies and contacts to find the best business prospects for your brand. Your sales rep can use a dataset like Biscred to search for customers based on certain criteria and then transfer that list directly into your CRM.
4. Wasting Time on Unqualified Leads
Just because you generate new leads doesn’t necessarily mean that those leads are viable for an eventual sale. Whether they don't have decision-making power or don’t have the budget for your product, unqualified leads can be an unfortunate time sink for your sales team. There’s no point nurturing these leads because they simply don’t qualify for making a sale.
A web-based dataset like Biscred is once again useful here because you can filter to eliminate certain portions of your lead dataset.
5. Too Many Meetings
Meetings are necessary in any workspace, as it’s a time when your team can get together and review their individual progress and discuss strategy. However, meetings can quickly get out of hand in a workplace to the point where it cuts into work time. At that point, meetings can actually be detrimental to your sales productivity. According to MarketingProfs, meetings are what 55% of sales reps say take the most time away from selling.
(For more on "how much time is wasted in meetings," check out “Meetings are Toxic” a very short read from the creators of Basecamp.)
To adopt a policy of "fewer meetings, more productivity," try using a tool like Slack or Teams to address simple questions or concerns. Additionally, if a meeting is held, make sure there is an agenda of topics that your team is adhering to and not getting off track. If your team has to meet multiple times a week, or even several times a day, it’s a sign that your team isn’t properly communicating and may be wasting a lot of time being confused about what they should do.
6. Prospective Customers Rabbit Hole
When searching for prospective customers, it’s common to get lost down the rabbit hole of finding all potential customers for your brand. With so many factors to consider, your sales reps can spend the whole day trying to find the perfect customer. With all that research, it’s still possible that there’s something your team didn’t consider and that lead ends up unqualified for a sale.
Prospective leads ending up being dead ends is an inevitability, so automating the customer acquisition process as much as possible will save a lot of time. Using a web-based dataset tool is, again, helpful for automating the customer research process and saving your team a lot of time.
Bottom Line: Get the right B2B sales tools
Audit your sales technology: Conduct an audit of your tools to identify gaps and redundancies in what your sales tech stack provides.
Train your SDRs on new and existing sales tech: Tech companies roll out new features all the time; make sure your sales team is trained as new features roll out.
Add sales enablement to your tech stack: Lastly, fill your sales pipeline with high-quality leads that are relevant to your business goals, which will eliminate wasted time sifting through pages and pages of LinkedIn profiles, business directories, social media profiles, and Google search results.