5 Steps to Increase Your Sales Department’s Efficiency by@alexsolo
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5 Steps to Increase Your Sales Department’s Efficiency

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At Refocus, sales department is constantly improving its sales indicators. The salary of a sales specialist in our company depends on the number of deals closed. The motivation to earn and a solid product knowledge are two of the most essential qualities a sales manager must have. The fast processing of applications is an essential part of high-quality service and a way to increase a potential client’s loyalty. The best way to assess skills after training is by checking how they can implement their knowledge in practice via roleplay.

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Alexander Solovyev

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When the company's profit indicator leaves much to be desired, there are certain questions for the sales department. Sometimes, managers blame external factors: for example, some claim that the product is way too expensive, so it is no surprise that nobody’s ready to buy it.

But if you look at it from different angles, it may turn out that the problem might also be internal:

  • the sales department comprises unqualified professionals;
  • applications are processed too slowly;
  • employees are tired because leads are distributed manually and unevenly;
  • managers serve customers poorly: they do not use scripts, they badly handle objections, etc.;
  • work with refusals is not conducted;
  • the marketing department does not interact with sales managers.

At Refocus, we’re constantly improving our sales indicators. And it does work: within just seven months of launching in new markets, our sales department was able to sell $3M worth of products. Here are the five tools we use to make it possible.

1. Three-stage selection of employee

We select sales managers after three stages: an interview with HR, an interview with their future manager, and a paid trial week. After communicating with our HR, out of around 50 candidates, only 5-7 maximally motivated applicants with relevant experience remain. The candidate's motivation is critical for their chance to be hired.

So the salary of a sales specialist in our company depends on the number of deals closed:

  • if 90-100% of the plan is completed, they get a 3% commission

  • if 100-120%, they get a 5% commission

  • and if the plan is over-completed by more than 20%, we give them a 7.5% commission

Therefore, it’s crucial that the candidate is ready to work hard and is motivated by the extra money they could get. To learn it, at the next stage, the candidate’s future manager asks them what their financial goal is, what the bare minimum they’d agree to learn is, and what sum will make them satisfied. We’re searching for the most ambitious specialists who are eager to earn way more than the average sales specialist’s salary. Our experience shows that these are the type of applicants who turn out to be the most effective in the long run.

The next stage is the paid trial working week. During this period, candidates are immersed in the company’s mission and values, and they study the specifics of our CRM system and our sales mechanisms. To make the training more effective, we have a dedicated team member whose responsibility is to train and evaluate newbies.

The best way to assess skills after training is by checking how they can implement their knowledge in practice via roleplay. During it, a future sales manager is supposed to sell the product to the problem client who our sales manager usually plays. They have many objections, and the newcomer has to process them and successfully close the deal. If they have managed to do it, they pass the certification and are ready to join the team.

In this stage, we can already assess the following:

  • how well the applicant knows our product;
  • how they learned and used the sales script — the intended scenario of the dialogue with the client;
  • if the manager identified the client's needs;
  • how profitably they presented the product; how they handled objections;
  • if they were able to close the deal; how professional their general tone of communication was;
  • how the candidate has progressed in a week;

The motivation to earn and solid product knowledge are two of the most essential qualities a sales manager must have. This system helps us ensure that we hire the best in terms of both criteria.

2. Application processing: Speed matters

The fast processing of applications is an essential part of high-quality service and a way to increase a potential client’s loyalty. Ringing back for a long time can result in a lead burning out, changing their mind, or even choosing a competitor's product.

Plus, when you call back immediately after the request, the client will still be impressed by what he or she saw on your website or advertisements. This is what will motivate them to come to you.

We have approximately the following criteria:

  • ideally, managers should call customers back within 5-20 minutes after contacting them;
  • it is worse if within 20 minutes to half an hour, but it is permissible;
  • if the callback time is from 30 minutes to an hour, it is possible that the conversion will be reduced by 20-30%;
  • if managers call back customers for longer than an hour after contacting them, this reduces the conversion rate by half on average.

Currently, our application processing rate is about 30 minutes, and that’s the metrics we’re working on. It’s enough to close the deal successfully, but it still needs improvement. For us, the main reason is that sometimes we get too many leads. Sounds like it’s good to have more potential clients, but in reality, this can make their distribution harder. One of the ways to fix it, which we’re now implementing, is displaying a widget that distributes the leads automatically according to the number of them one sales specialist has in work.

Another factor affecting the SLA of a sales manager is their workload and the mean duration of their call. When distributing the leads and analyzing the speed of application processing, it’s crucial to pay attention to the time each manager spends on one client: the more a person spends, the fewer leads should be distributed to them.


3. Automation of the application transfers

You can assign a responsible manager to process applications manually. But this requires a special person, and what’s worse is they will need a lot of time to distribute and transfer requests.

Of course, you can assign this task to the head or the employees of the sales department, but this will not solve the issue of unnecessary time and additional workload.

As a result, you will be processing applications more slowly, which means you’ll miss the leads, lose processing speed, and reduce your conversion rate. In addition, if you distribute applications manually, you can easily miss something because of the human factor.

Another problem could occur in this case. If the manager processes the most requests (works the fastest) or converts more leads into sales, then it is more logical to transfer requests first and foremost. But it will then turn out that he or she is overworking, and the rest will have a light workload.

Maximum speed is not equal to the highest productivity. If a specialist works faster than everyone else, he may not pay enough attention to the quality of application processing, and the conversion rate could drop. But due to high speed, applications are still directly reaching the manager. Therefore, the approach when the manager who processes applications faster than others receives more requests is doomed for failure. Of course, it is necessary to strengthen productive salespeople, but you cannot force them to recycle.

To eliminate these problems, we decided to use applications that provide transfer automation tools. Different CRM systems are used to manage customer relationships: you can choose the one for yourself based on the number of sales managers you have, the number of applications, and the functionality you need.


Statistic of our sales managers provided by CRM system: number of leads they get, CR, number of closed deals

McKinsey conducted a study and found that automation tools increase the chances of closing an application by 10% and the efficiency of employees by 15%.

4. Objection handling: quality control of sales managers' work

Another "headache" of any sales department is dealing with refusals. Some companies still stop working with customers who said "no," while others encourage sales managers to fight for their return. It is possible and necessary to continue working with departed leads because, according to statistics from Inverse, up to 60% of potential customers repeatedly refuse to buy before they make a favorable decision.

A manager or other top manager usually handles identifying the reason for refusal in a small company. But he or she can listen to only a part of random calls; from this, an objective picture will not work. Plus, again, it uses up time and is not part of a manager’s core tasks. To solve this problem, we have created a separate quality control department. Its specialists listen to sales managers' conversations throughout the workday and grade them from 1 to 10 according to several criteria:

  • script usage
  • customer needs identification
  • product presentation
  • objections handling.

If a sales specialist makes mistakes and gets rejected, the lead is passed to team leaders and the best managers. They call the potential clients again. This approach helped us return 10% of our customers.


Quality Control Check-list

To evaluate the manager's work, the quality control department listens to at least 10 of his weekly calls and calculates an average score for them. This allows us to get an objective picture and understand whether the manager is improving or not.

5. Building interaction between sales and other departments

Sales specialists are the ones who interact with clients and leads directly. Therefore, they can get the most up-to-date information about what the fears and values of customers are, what keeps them from purchasing, and which features of the product, in contrast, are crucial for closing a deal. Every day we have a 1-hour cross-team meeting in which members of the Sales, Marketing, and Product departments attend. Here, we discuss the number of leads for the previous days, their status, the number of new students, and all the insights other departments may apply to their work. These meetings may seem redundant: is it indeed worth spending ⅛ of your working hours every day just speaking? The answer is yes!

It is vital to understand the process's current state and see if something needs to be improved from the beginning. After these meetings, we have many times updated our landing page, optimized onboarding, and improved the sales script as well.

Moreover, attention should be paid to communication between the marketing and sales departments. They not only interact closely but also have the same goal — sales and profit growth. We managed to establish their interaction with the help of the lead qualification system.

Before that, marketers have been waiting for conversion data for weeks: we have an average check of above $800; all purchases are conscious, and therefore, transactions are made slowly. But the marketing campaign must work constantly. What should the advertiser start with?

The sales manager finds out from the lead:

  • their intention is to determine whether the customer plans to buy our product;
  • the attitude to the cost — if the customer is satisfied with the price;
  • readiness to buy — whether the customer plans to buy the course today.

The answers allow you to categorize leads: "hot," "warm," or "cold." Managers enter this data into the CRM system, and marketers see the funnel and manage the budget and adjust processes accordingly.


For example, if they see a lot of "cold" calls, they launch a funnel to "warm up" with the help of content: articles, webinars, cases, etc. When customers have become "warm," it will become easier for salespeople to close deals. As a result of the interaction between the departments, the total conversion of the application into order has increased. Another crucial thing that is built as a result of the interaction of sales specialists and marketers is retargeting. During calls, sales specialists learn the many objections and fears of potential clients, so these pitches are used for retargeting those who declined.

Let's summarize the results

You can influence the company's profit growth by optimizing and automating key business processes. The leading assistant in this is the sales department.

If it is appropriately staffed, specialists are moderately loaded with specialized tasks, not distracted by secondary ones, and are motivated to work effectively — and even in a highly competitive market, you can take worthy positions.

And if there are gaps in some moments, feel free to use our experience. We wish everyone sales growth!


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