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Managing Inside Sales Rep Productivity


As an in-side sales manager, driving productivity is always on my mind. What can I be doing to assist my Business Development Reps in meeting/exceeding their number? I’ve noticed in my experience that inside sales reps are often like students. They struggle with the productivity in its most simple form. Think about yourself or your peers as undergraduate college students and what your stance on productivity was.  Let’s use the example of a college student that decides half way through the semester to focus on their B+ classes, blow them out of the water and chalk their C/D classes up as a loss. “Hey, I am awesome at English but I really can’t seem to wrap my arms around Calculus, I’ll try something different next semester.”  That student that puts all their eggs in one basket is probably banking on the 4.0 to outweigh the 2.0s and 1.5s….it won’t.

Productivity is achieving balance and consistency in your work. I started down this thought process after reading an interesting question from a LinkedIn group I belong to - InSide Sales Experts: Do you believe that for most inside sales groups it is easy to get a 20% increase in results? The gentleman that posted this question believes that “productivity through work-flow and time management is the way to achieve this” While I totally agree… I struggle with how? How do I get my team there?

I think that productivity is something that needs to be managed on an individual basis that starts with having a conversation with your inside sales rep on how they define productivity. How are they working to achieve it? Are they a morning person, a procrastinator, a post-it note addict, a CRM guru or someone that is fumbling through stacks of papers looking for yesterday’s to-dos? After that, it’s about having structure in place to help your rep grow.

We train our reps on a structured call plan that was designed to yield a healthy amount of business conversations through polite persistence. Along with the call plan, we have daily activity goals, weekly contests influenced by various needs to increase results, and a monthly leader-board to keep our reps driven.

The following excerpt is from a post that stuck with me and ties into our company culture and how I manage:

“Time Management is important, being organized in your daily schedule and working towards your goals that you set up on a daily basis. Having a great personality is important to increase sales. Being persistent is also important, but you have fun with your clients build up that rapport with existing customers as well as prospects. I agree that making more dials increases the amount of prospects, which will increase your closes on sales”

While this was a great affirmation that what I am doing seems to be consistent with others in the inside sales management world, it was an opposing argument that I stumbled upon that caught my attention:

“The greatest conceit of managers is the belief that they have great influence over motivation. Science has shown time and time again that the only long term motivation is intrinsic and it starts with autonomy, purpose and mastery. Boards, slogans and competition do not tap into those things at all. “

While both of these thoughts are conflicting, they some how bring me back to my own opinion. I think the 20% is achievable if you can understand what a rep defines as productive and how willing they are to execute it.  Without working with the individual and offering them structure and guidance, you can’t assume that they define productivity as long term motivation, time management, great client rapport, a need to be #1 on the leader board and the desire to go above and beyond. If that were the case, 20% would be a cake walk and we would try and clone that rep. We need to keep questioning what motivates someone, what they think defines productivity, what we can do as managers to help them do their job and leverage the structure we have in place. 


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