Productivity is the lifeblood of a high-performing sales team — the key factor that separates truly exceptional teams from their "middle of the road" counterparts.
So naturally, as a manager, one of your first responsibilities is ensuring that your reps are as productive as possible. But how do you get there? What tricks and tactics can you implement to keep your team working to its full potential?
The answers to those questions aren't always straightforward — so to help you navigate the tricky waters of maximizing your sales team's output, we've put together a list of research-backed tips for getting as much out of your reps' efforts as possible.
Science-Backed Ways Managers Can Boost Team Productivity
1. Introduce workplace programs to support healthy sleep habits.
It's not exactly revolutionary to point out that a good night's sleep contributes to personal wellbeing — if you sleep a full eight hours every night, you tend to feel better than someone who only musters four.
Still, you might be surprised by the extent to which healthy sleep habits contribute to organizational performance. According to research from Clemson University's Department of Psychology, poor or inadequate sleep contributes to a range of cognitive deficits — including an inability to maintain attention, altered emotional processing, and a general inability to think clearly.
The study also found that sleep deprivation impedes employee motivation — as the sum of the various health-related and psychological implications of poor sleep tend to make employees less inclined to work hard.
So all of this begs the question: What can your organization do to address the ramifications of your employees' poor sleep? Well, the study says the answer will probably fall on your HR department.
According to the researchers, having HR take strides like offering flexible working hours, providing adaptation time for workers to adjust to new time zones while traveling, and arranging office spaces to expose workers to natural sunlight can all help address employee sleeplessness.
One way or another, your organization should ensure your employees have the space and information necessary to practice healthy, productive sleep habits. They'll appreciate it, and your organizational performance will benefit as a result.
2. Come to understand the nuances of your reps' customers' behavior.
Effective managers aren't just hip to the needs and interests of their sales reps — they're also in tune with the behavior and preferences of their customers. A 2021 study published in The Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing identified customer engagement as one of the four key elements sales managers need to cover to maximize their teams' productivity.
According to the research, salespeople generally believe that the presence of managers adds a degree of credibility to their efforts when engaging customers — making them feel supported and confident in their customer interactions.
So, what does that mean for you as a sales leader? Well, above all else, the research indicates that you shouldn't be reluctant to engage with your reps' customers at some point — and while your team members are ultimately responsible for the prospects they sell to, offering some support with this aspect of your reps' efforts can go a long way in enhancing productivity.
3. Advocate for your reps.
The same study referenced in the previous point identifies championing — the practice of advocating for reps to minimize busywork in the context of their day-to-day — as a key behavior managers need to practice to get the most out of their teams.
And it makes sense — if your reps have less monotonous, administrative work on their plates, they have more flexibility to focus on selling. So as a sales leader, it falls on you to protect your team, clear roadblocks, obtain approvals, and provide escalations on your reps' behalf.
Your team will value the effort you're willing to put in for them, work that much harder for you as a result, and have the space to focus on their core responsibilities — all of which amounts to more organizational productivity.
4. Leverage a mobile CRM to support your broader CRM adoption.
If your sales organization isn't leveraging a CRM, you're selling yourself short, to begin with. But even if you are, introducing that kind of technology to your reps' day-to-day is rarely simple.
Fostering CRM adoption within a sales org is a challenge that can trouble even the savviest sales leaders. Getting your team to actively embrace one of these platforms can involve a fair amount of training and some serious growing pains.
But there are some ways you can help expedite that process, and a study published in The Journal of Marketing Analytics indicates that leveraging a mobile CRM solution helps facilitate quicker and more seamless CRM adoption among sales teams.
The study also found that adopting a mobile CRM allows for more streamlined communication between salespeople, supports team collaboration, and ultimately improves reps' relationship performance with customers.
If your org currently leverages a CRM, supplement it with a mobile CRM solution. Doing so can mean a more seamless adoption process, better team communication, and improved collaboration — taken together, all of those elements lead to more productivity from your reps.
5. Don't force employees to work when they're sick.
Even though having employees in-office as much as possible might sound like the right way to maximize their potential output, research says otherwise. Looking out for your team's well-being and offering them time off when they need it is in both your and their best interest.
Presenteeism — the practice of forcing employees to be physically present at work when they're ill or injured — has been found to take a toll on organizational productivity.
It places unreasonable expectations and time constraints on employees and their colleagues — as co-workers often feel pressure to compensate for their team members' inefficiency. That forced compensation and the friction that naturally accompanies it put strain on an otherwise healthy team dynamic and make teams less productive.
As a manager, you bear responsibility for your employees' well-being — beyond the context of their organizational contributions. You need to look out for their personal best interests.
Never force them to come to work if they feel they can't. That's a matter of empathy and decency. The fact that presenteeism hurts productivity just adds a bit more urgency to that kind of compassion.
Now, this list is far from exhaustive — consolidating every tactic you can leverage to ensure your sales team works to its full potential into a single blog post is virtually impossible. But if you can incorporate these tips into your management repertoire, you'll put yourself in a better position to maximize your team's productivity.