Today’s client advisor and sales teams are under increasing pressure to perform. Consider the landscape. Seller activity volume is on the rise. Discerning customers want personalized engagement on their terms, through a growing number of channels. Enterprises are demanding faster pipeline development to reach aggressive sales targets and quotas. And all too frequently, sellers and advisors are forced to rely on tools and practices that simply aren’t up to the task.
Fortunately, technology is rapidly transforming the productivity and efficiency of advisor, sales and other go-to-market teams by improving data quality, eliminating manual tasks, and amplifying the power of their efforts. This shift allows sales teams to increase the potential reach and relationship power of sellers and advisors from 1:1 to 1:many—without compromising the customer relationship experience.
In this article, we will discuss the main challenges a business may encounter and provide tips on how to increase sales productivity to address those challenges.
What Is Sales Productivity, and Why Does It Matter?
“Sales productivity” is a loaded term that, in a general sense, speaks directly to the impact sales team efforts have in optimizing the work they do to build and sustain customer relationships and advance and close transactions.
Historically, sales productivity was a simpler concept that spoke to the efficiency of 1:1 sales team-to-customer interactions. But technology has dramatically altered the sales productivity calculation by automating traditionally manual customer data entry, analysis, and customer engagement efforts. These technologies have had the effect of amplifying each sales team member’s potential impact to 1:many—allowing them to reclaim time spent on manual processes, leverage customer data, and maintain contact through the use of automated communication tools that sustain customer engagement between 1:1 interactions.
Main Challenges for Sales Productivity
Like many other skills, sales productivity isn’t an innate trait. And while there are those who are natural sellers—people whose gifts for connection, integrity, persuasion, and organization make them naturally suited for sales roles. But in industries where products and services are complex, customers are more likely to represent enterprises than individuals, and sales cycles play out over months—even years—charisma alone won’t suffice to close transactions.
So, instead of relying on the power of a single pitch, today’s sales teams need the tools and support necessary to establish and maintain multiple customer relationships over time in a process that involves multiple points of contact. And while some of those engagements are in-person, many companies in data-sensitive environments are looking for solutions that can be automated, using a range of media to reach and engage customers on their terms throughout the sales cycle – without putting the security and privacy of their customer relationship data at risk.
Those efforts, however, can’t succeed without overcoming a range of challenges, including:
- Outdated/inadequate tools
- Reliance on manual customer data capture and transcription
- Limited, inadequate, and/or inaccurate customer data analysis capabilities
- Lack of access to trustworthy, single-source (CRM) customer data (current, complete, accurate)
- Poor internal communication (management to sales, interdepartmental)
- Lack of cohesive, clearly communicated go-to-market strategy
- Failure to embrace hybrid workforce technologies and practices
- Failure to embrace AI-enabled tools as productivity amplifiers
5 Essential Steps to Increase Sales Productivity
Challenges, of course, were meant to be overcome. And when it comes to sales productivity, there are five surefire ways to transition your enterprise and sales team away from outdated, data-challenged technologies and practices to solutions that unify and improve data, improve employee and customer experience, and improve sales productivity.
Step 1: Invest in and deploy intuitive, scalable, and secure tech tools that work for employees (and watch sales team adoption climb)
“By 2026, 65% of B2B sales organizations will transition from intuition-based to data-driven decision making, using technology that unites workflow, data, and analytics.”Gottlieb, Dan, et al., Market Guide for Sales Engagement Applications, Gartner, 27 March 2023
All too often, companies invest in technologies that fall short of their promises to “fix” the everyday challenges sales teams face. Whether due to counterintuitive UI, the failure to utilize and provide scalable, real-time, unified access to comprehensive customer data, these tools frustrate and alienate their intended users, leaving them reliant on inefficient manual practices that hinder sales productivity—and damage job satisfaction and employee retention.
Relationship solutions like Riva do the heavy lifting for sales teams by unifying and delivering the customer 360 data customer-facing teams need, where and when they need it. Platforms like Riva engage then enable sales teams to amplify their efforts with technologies and tools that leverage AI to create highly personalized and relevant content and automatically distribute it to clients through channels customers use, on their terms. By embracing these technologies, companies can replace the frustrating, low-performing single-solution tools sales teams won’t use with solutions that seamlessly and intuitively support both 1-to-1 and 1-to-many customer engagement.
Step 2: Provide advisors and sales teams with real-time, intuitive, and comprehensive access to amplify productivity while providing a single-source-of-truth customer 360 experience
“While 90% of executives believe accessing a single source of truth with their CRM is important, only 32% of companies say their technology offers this today.”Brian Solis, State of CRM Research has 8 Tips and Insights to Help, Salesforce, 24 August 2021
Large, sophisticated enterprises gather enormous volumes of customer data through multiple channels, platforms, and departments every day. Absent the sophisticated revenue operations integration technologies necessary to unify, govern, and curate that data, sales teams lack a clear, accurate, secure, and compliant history of each customer’s journey.
Relationship intelligence technologies—like Riva’s relationship engine—automate customer data unification, driving it to CRM. These solutions often perform the critical tasks of automatically resolving data duplications, errors, and omissions, and of governing and curating data distribution to ensure both data security and compliance. By embracing and implementing these forward-facing technologies, enterprises establish CRM as the single source of customer truth—giving customer-facing advisors, brokers, agents, and teams access to the current, comprehensive, and trusted customer 360 insights necessary to improve customer engagements, sustain customer relationships, and grow customer lifetime value.
Step 3: Automate data capture and improvement to reduce task-switching, boost employee satisfaction and engagement, and improve sales productivity
Customers are looking to provide advisors and go-to-market team members with solutions that don’t disrupt how advisors by leveraging the tools being used in day-to-day communications to support their book of business. Customers need solutions that allow them to leverage and amplify the value of data and the customer intelligence data they gather from their everyday email, calendar, and task activities – in the applications they already use. All too often, users are required to re-enter that data in other applications—including CRM—to ensure that customer histories and journeys are complete. Despite best intentions, manual data entry is at best slow and monotonous. At worst, it’s inaccurate, plagued by errors, omissions, and repetitions that drag customer data quality down and end up damaging both employee and customer experience.
With smart investments in relationship engagement solutions like Riva, enterprises eliminate the risks associated with manual data capture and activities that drag data quality down—and damage both seller and customer confidence. They also eliminate task-switching, where sales teams are required to toggle across multiple applications, taking unnecessary and frustrating steps working on tasks that would be better handled by Integrated workflows.
“90% of B2B sales organizations viewed today’s B2B omnichannel reality as equally or more effective in reaching and serving customers than it was before COVID-19.”Lisa Donchack, et. al., The Future of B2B is Hybrid, McKinsey & Company, 27 April 2022
That’s why relationship intelligence solutions like Riva can have a profound impact on worker productivity. By automating traditionally manual data entry tasks, these solutions allow advisors and sales teams to reclaim time spent on monotonous, multi-application data capture and recapture efforts. Even more important, these AI-enhanced technologies are designed to analyze captured content, and to flag and eliminate errors, omissions, and duplication. The result? Sellers have more time (and more job satisfaction) to do the work they want to do: engage with customers, build relationships, and sell—working with current, accurate data to instill customer confidence and grow lifetime value. All this adds to increased sales productivity.
Step 4: Support your selling teams wherever they are
“In a [multi]-channel world, buyers and sellers not only intend to continue engaging remotely; two-thirds prefer it to in-person interactions at many purchasing stages.”Lisa Donchack, et. al., The Future of B2B is Hybrid, McKinsey & Company, 27 April 2022
When employees of sophisticated, even highly regulated enterprises experienced a taste of remote work, they embraced it. While some enterprises have called those workers back, most have made concessions to hybrid work arrangements that allow advisors and sales teams to divide their work between the office—and wherever else they can pick up a secure Wi-Fi connection. Often, though, the technologies and tools office workers relied on were designed specifically for in-office use, making it difficult for workers to access the tools and data they need when they’re remote.
With smart investments in relationship and activity integration solutions like Riva, employees benefit from unified, high-quality customer data within the platforms they already use (and most effectively optimized for hybrid work ). By providing anywhere, anytime access to full-picture, current customer history accessible in the CRM and Outlook communications, these technologies allow workers to access the data they need, when and where they need it, thus boosting sales productivity
But high-quality data access is just one requirement of a successful hybrid work setup. With tools like Riva for Sales Engagement, remote workers have anywhere, anytime access to sophisticated, AI-enhanced customer engagement tools designed to create relevant, targeted content, and to share it with customers via the channels they trust and use every day.
The impact? Sales teams effectively leverage their time and effort—and customers stay informed and engaged throughout long, detail-intensive sales cycles.
Step 5: Embrace AI to amplify sales team efforts
“By 2025, 30% of outbound marketing messages from large organizations will be synthetically generated, up from less than 2% in 2022”Gottlieb, Dan, et al., Market Guide for Sales Engagement Applications, Gartner, 27 March 2023
Faced with intensifying competition, dwindling inbound sales funnels, hiring challenges, and higher customer expectations, today’s advisors and sales teams are relied on to do more than ever before—often using disintegrated tools and techniques designed to pursue outdated selling strategies. As a result of these limitations, go-to-market workers struggle with low data quality, unreliable data analysis, and customer engagement content that’s unresponsive, inadequate, and difficult to share through the contemporary channels customers trust and rely on to inform and make purchasing decisions.
By embracing AI-enabled data integration and content creation and distribution tools like Riva, selling teams resolve frustrating data quality and long-term sales cycle customer engagement challenges, and amplify sales productivity. These new and increasingly ubiquitous tools allow workers to tap large language model (LLM) AI content creation tools to generate high-quality, customer-tailored content—and to distribute it in targeted cadences that maintain customer engagement between 1-on-1 interactions.
The impact of these AI-fueled technologies on employee enablement are difficult to overstate. No longer limited by the constraints of sales processes that are entirely dependent on in-person communication, sales teams can amplify their selling capacity, providing vital information to support sales efforts and remain visible and relevant to customers on their terms. And, using Riva’s tools and capabilities, sales teams can establish and execute clear plans to pursue transactions throughout the customer lifecycle.
Today’s selling and management teams face increasing pressure to do more with less—while relying on patchworks of outdated technologies that are inefficient to use, incapable of providing trustworthy customer 360, and ill-suited for 1-to-many customer engagement. Relationship intelligence integration solutions like Riva offer the means to significantly improve sales productivity by unifying customer data, ensuring data security and compliance, and providing the AI-enhanced means to create and share relevant, responsive content to customers throughout the sales cycle. As inbound funnels slow, these solutions hold the key to building and sustaining customer engagements through longer, more complex sales cycles—ultimately enhancing employee and customer satisfaction on the path to successful transactions.
To learn how Riva can enhance the experiences of both your customer-facing teams and the customers they serve—while accelerating your path to digital transformation—we encourage you to contact us.