Top 3 Killers of Sales Productivity

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We are all about to put a wrap on one of the most difficult and hyper-competitive years in the history of the wine and spirits industry, and 2024 is only going to be even more challenging.

More sales and more revenue are on EVERYONE’s wish list.

In that spirit, we offer three practical things every wine and spirits supplier should STOP 🛑 doing in the new year.

   1. Repetitive, manual tasks

The two most valuable assets any salesperson has are their time and the goodwill of their customers

When managing their time, even the best salespeople need help and support. Unfortunately, their own companies are often the biggest hindrance to efficient use of their time.

The single biggest culprit (and ones that companies can quickly and inexpensively remove) is repetitive, manual tasks, including:

  • Managing the sales pipeline
  • Follow up
  • Customer support
  • Data collection
  • Approvals
  • Activity reports
  • Requests for updates and information
  • Emails
  • Meetings
  • Inventory management
  • Pricing

The tasks listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, so many tasks slow salespeople down and diminish the time available to generate more revenue for the company.

What’s the answer? In a word: automation.

Here are three of the most common tasks that eat up large chunks of salespeople’s time and how to automate them.

Responding to requests for information from others in the company.

Salespeople’s inboxes are swollen with requests for information that could easily be accessed by the requester, such as:

  • “What’s going on in ________ account?”
  • “What’s the next step on _____________ project?”
  • “Where do we stand on ____________?”
  • “Just a reminder….”

If your company was using a powerful, cloud-based, mobile-friendly CRM system, there would NEVER be a need to request these types of information. The requester would simply look in the CRM system to meet their needs.

Consider how much time could be saved by leveraging a collaborative sales tool like CRM!

Approval process

Whether it is signing off on a requested price change/increase, getting approval for a travel expense, or approving PTO requests, ALL of these tasks (and many more) can be automated

Time truly is money, and yet most companies ignore this reality. 

Collecting and entering data

Anything that requires manual data entry is fraught with peril and prone to errors.

Pricing is a huge offender here. Most wine and spirits companies still use “static” documents like Excel spreadsheets that need to be manually updated and emailed back and forth. Even if you utilize a shared folder in Dropbox or Google Drive, there is still too much manual entry. 

Managing trade promotion budgets is another time suck.

The remedy is to leverage a software platform that automates the validation of deals, billback,s and program details. 

The best argument for investing in these modern salesforce automation tools (besides the quick investment recovery) is that you can bring all internal stakeholders into the loop (finance, operation IT, and executive management). 

Stop demoralizing your sales team by forcing them to utilize archaic, manual processes! Make it your top New Year’s resolution!

   2. Weekly reports

Oh, the dreaded weekly call report. It’s such a relic from a bygone era.

Should managers have complete visibility of what their salespeople do and achieve daily? Absolutely! But this need not be a manual process.

Modern CRM systems eliminate the need for manual sales call reports. 

Think about how much time this will save your sales team members.

Here are all the data points easily accessible inside a modern CRM system:

  • What sales calls were made yesterday, and by which salesperson?
  • Was this account on the Key Account Target list?
  • Who did they meet with at the account?
  • What was discussed in the sales call?
  • What products were presented?
  • What order commitments were received?
  • What are the next steps?
  • What task reminders were created?

The great irony is that by leveraging modern technology like CRM, upper management will receive far more detailed and nuanced information about sales activities than they could ever get from a manual weekly report.

Not to mention the amount of emails that do not need to be sent back and forth!

All this is fine and dandy for sales managers, but what about the hapless salespeople? Does it save them any time? Once again, it certainly does.

There isn’t a salesperson alive who looks forward to sitting down once a week and filling out a weekly report. They have to comb through many handwritten notes or rely on their memories. It’s exhausting and unnecessary.

The alternative is for them to tap out a few quick notes or click a few boxes on their phone, working as they go. It takes between 30 and 60 seconds to record the details of a sales call on your phone. And the quality of the information will be so much more detailed if they do it immediately following each sales call while everything is fresh in their minds.

It is nearly 2024. This madness simply must stop! If consistently nailing sales and revenue goals is a top priority for your company, you need to get with the times and swap manual processes for modern ones.

A great place to start is to read these articles:

Everyone everywhere is now without excuse. 

   3. Lack of focus and accountability

According to “The Complete Guide to Accelerating Salesforce Performance,” a textbook from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern:

From the book The Complete Guide to Accelerating Salesforce Performance

What is the solution? Leveraging key account target lists.

The 80/20 Rule is fundamental, and its truth cannot be denied. 

If 20% of the accounts produce 80% of the potential revenue and sales volume, then it is not only critical that salespeople know which accounts these are, but they also must restrict the bulk of their activity to these accounts.

What we are talking about here is a simple, two-step process:

Step 1: Identify these accounts in your CRM system.

Step 2: Monitor activity and success in these key account targets in your CRM system.

Easy peasy! Your modern CRM system makes it so very simple to implement these two steps!

But wait – there’s more! There is something called the 80/20/30 rule, which states:

“The typically high investment in the bottom 30 percent of the customer base can cut a firm’s profits in half!”

 The “juice” that drives most salespeople is the thrill of the hunt. If an account isn’t carrying their brand, they feel their job is to attack and close that opportunity. Seems noble enough, right?

But here is the problem: Not all accounts are equal. Not even close! 

To accelerate your sales, you must adopt a less-is-more approach and hold your salespeople accountable for restricting their activities to the richest targets in their territory.

“Accountability” need not be a dirty word, especially if holding people accountable is easy to execute.

Once again, the answer is your CRM system. 

Thanks to modern CRM, driving sales execution strategy is easier than ever. Tasks like planning, analyzing, tracking activities, and scheduling future account visits are only a few mouse clicks away.

Managing sales goals across sales reps and accounts has never been easier!

Accountability that drives sales results can (and is) simple and intuitive. 

Welcome to “modern” sales management! Stop doing the things that “kill” your sales productivity. The New Year is an excellent time to start!

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Andavi Solutions is building an integrated suite of technology solutions to provide insights and drive superior decision-making and ROI across the beverage alcohol and CPG supply chain. 

Our Vision is to invest in leading software and technology companies, partner with best-in-class management talent, accelerate innovation and build an integrated technology platform providing connected insights to suppliers, distributors, and retailers.