A guest blog by Diego Pineda, Senior Content Creator at CloudTask
When the US Armed Forces have a critical mission, they deploy a team of Navy SEALs - the ultimate standard of efficiency and productivity. The SEALs are physically and mentally strong, but above all, they are productive and efficient, coming in and out of combat zones very quickly, while fulfilling their mission.
Just like the typical outside sales team, right? Not even close. The average outside sales rep only spends 36% of their time actively selling (cold calling, following up, visiting, making presentations, etc.). A whopping 64% of a sales rep’s time is spent commuting, planning, processing orders, doing paperwork, or eating lunch.
This lack of efficiency results in not hitting sales targets, which in turn affects their managers and their companies. Fortunately, there are a number of tools and tactics that can help.
Read on to learn 7 ways to increase sales reps efficiency - Navy SEAL style.
1. Train for excellence
Navy SEAL candidates go through grueling and demanding training and only the best make the cut. The training has one purpose: excellence. Average doesn’t work.
The same goes for training sales reps. It’s not enough to train new hires on basic selling techniques and a quick overview of the product features. They must know the product and the buyer persona intimately; they must be well versed in the latest selling tactics (neurolinguistic selling, for example); and they must hone and practice their sales pitch to make it perfect.
Train your sales reps in goal setting. Teach them how to set daily, weekly and monthly goals. One way to do this is focusing on leading and lagging indicators, these are numbers that will tell each sales rep how many attempts or visits he or she must make each day to hit the sales target.
Let’s say the sales target is $5,000 per week and you need at least 3 sales to hit that target. If a sales rep closes one sale for every 10 visits made, then the rep needs to make 30 visits each week (6 per day) to hit it.
Finally, train them to be leaders, to be initiators and to feel ownership over their work.
2. Focus on qualified leads
Training a single Navy SEAL costs up to $500,000 and keeping him operational and deployable overseas costs around $1,000,000 per year. So, as you can guess, they don’t just wander around in the desert searching for missions. They rely on the best intel to go into the field.
Learn from that and make sure your outside sales reps are only visiting great, qualified leads. The idea is not to send them out to chase every lead the marketing team generates, but only sales-ready leads. They can close more deals with fewer, higher quality leads.
A high quality lead has already shown interest in the solutions you offer and has been nurtured long enough by your inside sales team. A qualified lead also has a defined budget that falls within your price range.
Giving your outside sales reps a long list of not qualified leads is a waste of time. Focus instead on generating sales-ready leads like intel pros.
3. Use a route planner app designed for field sales reps
Elite military teams probably use geolocation tech so sophisticated that we haven’t even heard about it. The good news is that you can use some great tools available to make your outside sales work more efficient.
Route planning apps are a necessity for outside salespeople and the best sales teams need the best tools. Driving to sales appointments is only a small fraction of field rep responsibilities when they’re on the road. They also have to meet with their clients in a meaningful way, take meeting notes, establish next steps and update HQ.
That’s why you need combine your customer list, a map, and your calendar into one mobile app. Find an app that will then optimize the route to follow, including multiple stops, estimated arrival times depending on traffic, as well as other great features.
Field sales teams that use a route planner sell 20-25% more.
"When going through Navy SEAL training, the students are taught to move, shoot, and communicate in stressful environments,” writes Navy SEAL combat veteran Brent Gleeson in Forbes. "Good communication builds trust and drives the team forward with a shared sense of purpose."
It can also be stressful out there for your sales reps. So keep contact channel opens, using the best communication tools available. When managers check-in regularly with their reps, they can get a feeling of their performance and state of mind, and offer feedback and encouragement. This type of communication increases sales productivity and efficiency.
5. Generate reports and evaluate performance
Military trainers keep track of various details of a soldier’s performance to provide feedback and even to decide who stays and who leaves - especially when qualifying to become a Navy SEAL, where only 6% of applicants make it.
Most sales teams use a CRM to keep track of the buyer’s journey of each client, but not many use it well. Make sure your sales reps are thoroughly trained to use the CRM at its full potential. If they input all the relevant data, you can automatically generate sales analytics reports to understand your current sales performance and to identify what to improve.
Furthermore, these reports can help you forecast sales revenue more accurately and optimize the execution of your sales plan.
6. Reduce paperwork and other non-selling activities
Unlike Navy SEALS, who focus on developing special operations strategy and tactics, average sales reps spend most of their time in non-selling activities such as writing proposals, traveling, creating sales reports, attending sales meetings, writing expense reports and other type of paperwork.
How much revenue could you make freeing up some of the time of your outside sales reps? Even if you reduced non-selling activities by two hours per week, you could make a big difference in your sales targets. You can reduce that time through software, admin staff, proposal writers and other support staff. Imagine what your team could do by reducing two hours of admin work every day.
You can also teach your sales reps a technique called batch work. It consists of grouping tasks together and keep at them until completed. For example, plan all your routes for the week first, then go out and meet all your customers, and then move on to doing expense reports and other admin tasks all together. This technique has proven to be faster and more efficient than simply working in a linear sequence for certain sales reps.
7. Celebrate and reward wins
Finally, it’s very important to inspire and motivate your outside sales reps all the time. Their work is not easy and it comes with a lot of rejections and frustration. So celebrate their wins (even their small ones) and reward them for their achievements.
Use your sales meetings to inspire and motivate them to do better and sell more, communicating the company’s mission and values. Remind them that their job is more than selling and making money - it’s about making a difference and helping clients succeed with your product or service.
Remember: a motivated sales rep will be a more efficient sales rep.
Working as a team
Did you know that a SEAL has never been left behind on a mission or taken prisoner? That’s because they have a strong teamwork ethic.
By the end of the day, the best way to increase the efficiency of your sales reps is working as a team, where managers, reps and other support staff function in unison to fulfill their mission.
Author Bio: Diego Pineda is a Senior Content Creator at CloudTask, a managed workforce provider for growing companies looking for B2B Sales, Customer Success and Customer Support solutions. Their mission is to find prospects, nurture leads, close deals, and satisfy customers, to enable you to reach your business goals.