Ep 34: Maximizing Revenue per Sales Rep

BuzzSprout Audio

“People tend to equivocate working hard and working smart as the same thing.” – Taylor Barnes


Introduction (Revenue Per Sales Rep)

Josh Sweeney: Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney, joined by my co-host, Taylor Barnes Taylor, how are you?

Taylor Barnes: I am pumped up, Josh, physically pumped up, because I’m working on maximizing my reps. Isn’t that what we’re talking about today?

Josh Sweeney: Are we talking about a workout today? I thought this was Purpose-Driven Sales.

Taylor Barnes: Oh, I got the wrong episode, sorry, Josh. OK, in that case, let’s switch gears and talk about revenue per rep. How about that?

Josh Sweeney: So maximizing your sales reps, that’s the key word, sales.

Taylor Barnes: There it is. That’s right. You know, it’s one big, important word. I’m going to have to put the weights down. I’ll come back to that later.

Josh Sweeney: Yes, so the challenge here is your team isn’t bringing in enough revenue per sales rep or you just need more revenue per sales rep because that’s being mandated from on high and it’s coming down to you. There are all kinds of reasons this can happen. So let’s talk about a couple of the challenges that are causing reps to not generate the revenue that you need.


An Issue with Training

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, and so, as we frame this topic, we’re getting into specifically the challenge that your team isn’t bringing in enough revenue per sales rep. Now, look, you might be in a situation where you could go hire a thousand more reps and everybody could do a little bit and you might grow some topline revenue. We are talking about working with what you have, maximizing the revenue per sales rep. So, Josh, getting into the reasons why your team might not be bringing in enough revenue per sales rep, and I know we go back to this a lot, but I think training is hands down number one.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, definitely. Continuous training is a big piece of this but, in addition to training, it’s what kind of training do they need?

Taylor Barnes: Hmm.

Josh Sweeney: Is it training around messaging? There are all kinds of programs out there that tell you how to craft a better message, how to position conversations better. There’s all kinds of training that has to happen. I think another reason the revenue per sales rep goes down from a training perspective is that they’re spending time on the wrong things. As sales leaders, maybe we haven’t spent time with them to talk about what they should be doing or understand where they’re at.


Working Hard vs Working Smart

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, I think we’ve told the story before, but I’m going to tell it again, because I think it really encapsulates this point when we talk about working hard versus working smart. I go back to Stephen Cubby’s example of the exhausted lumberjack. A man walks up to a lumberjack. He’s sitting there exhausted, just hacking away at this tree with a saw. And the man walks up to him and says, “Excuse me, sir, you look exhausted. How long have you been doing this?” And the lumberjack goes, “Oh, my gosh, I am exhausted. I’ve been doing this for five to six hours. I just can’t seem to make a dent in this tree.” The man looks at the saw that he’s using and it’s this dull saw. And he’s like, “You know what, sir? I think if you stopped for a second and sharpened the saw, it would go a lot quicker.” And the lumberjack says, “I don’t have time to stop and sharpen the saw. I’m too busy sawing.”

Josh Sweeney: Right.

Taylor Barnes: As sales leaders, we can really relate to this because so many times we spend time working on the wrong things, talking to the wrong people, working on things that don’t make a dent. We don’t think, hmm, how can we work smarter? People tend to equivocate working hard and working smart as the same thing, assuming that they’re going to get a similar outcome.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and like you said, there are all kinds of reasons that a sales manager doesn’t make time for training because they’re too busy, instead of stopping and sharpening the saw. 10 other people will be more efficient because I made the time to stop and train. Time allocation and the lack of training becomes a challenge.

Taylor Barnes: Yep, absolutely agree. Another reason that I’d love to hear your thoughts on is around tech and what tech could do to help the revenue per sales rep. We didn’t we didn’t grow up in the tech world as much as some of our younger counterparts did. So maybe the sales leadership isn’t as tech oriented as we should or could be. So what can we do to give our sales reps the ability to increase revenue by involving more tech? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that specifically because I know you’re super familiar in the tech space.


An Aversion to Technology

Josh Sweeney: Like you said, the sales leadership isn’t technology oriented, so what we see is a lot of people throwing bodies at it. They’re saying, “if somebody is doing X number of emails or X number of outbound touch points a day, then, to double that, I have to add another person. But, if the money would have been spent on technology it could have actually doubled the other person’s output at a much lower cost. But that’s part of the issue, there’s no mindset around the fact that technology can do this. Some of the sales leaders we see aren’t as comfortable with technology, like you said, depending on generation and how you came into sales leadership. It’s more of a hire instead of a switchover to technology mindset.

Taylor Barnes: Exactly. We see this so much. Either they don’t understand it, so they don’t know how to use it very well, or they really don’t know how to implement it. You are not going to be able to scale by adding headcount every time, though there are some areas where it makes sense. But when it comes to sales, you have to get familiar with what tech is possible. That’s going to give you the ability to add more revenue per sales rep.

Josh Sweeney: Most definitely. Ensuring it’s used is another one. We see it all the time as a HubSpot partner. “Hey, Josh, we need your help because we have HubSpot CRM and we’ve been paying for it for two years, but nobody really uses it.” So ensuring that it’s a cohesive part of the program is another reason why you may not be getting the revenue per sales rep.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah.

Josh Sweeney: If it’s all on paper and notes, or it’s all in somebody’s head or it’s written down on somebody’s desk, we can’t automatically find information. So let’s talk about that automation. Another reason that the revenue per sales rep could be low, and this crosses over to training, is the lack of process when it comes to sales. What are you seeing from a lack of process perspective?


A Lack of Process

Taylor Barnes: The one that comes to mind the most that affects the sales rep being able to generate more revenue is interdepartmental cooperation. And here’s what I mean by that. There are so many organizations out there, I’m about to age myself for a second, that throw the sales rep a Rolodex and just say good luck, sink or swim. That is old school thinking. It doesn’t need to be that hard anymore. So, interdepartmental cooperation. What I mean is, outside of your sales reps, who else is involved in the sale? Is that a business development representative? Is that a solution architect? Is that a service design team? Is it a transition manager or an executive sponsor? A lot of people tend to think, if I tell that rep to just get in early or make more calls and send more emails, then that’s going to do it. I want to encourage everybody to look at what departmental cooperation could be given to the sales rep in order to support him or her to generate more revenue.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, and I look at the process from a perspective of what is documented that everybody is following so that there are repeatable processes. I like sales flow documents that outline the stages, the definitions and what you should be sending a prospect for each stage. I’m a big fan of the buyer’s journey document.

Taylor Barnes: Mm hmm.

Josh Sweeney: Those are all processes you can use to cross over into training, to work on automation. And they’re documented in a way that can be reinforced because you can constantly send those to new reps. If something goes wrong, you can send that document to a rep that’s kind of trailed off for whatever reason and get those numbers back up. There’s a number of process documents that really have to be in place. Without those I think you’re automatically losing a little bit of revenue per sales rep.

Taylor Barnes: Yeah, we can’t expect our reps to generate more revenue if, any time they get into an opportunity, a bunch of new things have to be created. It’s just not realistic. It’s not sustainable. And by things what I mean are the things like sales flow documentation, sales enablement documentation, follow up PDFs, corporate decks, whatever the stuff is that can be documented and used repeatedly within a certain stage. What are you doing in terms of repeatable documentation? Is it clear, from a training point of view, when to use those documents? And, quite frankly, do they even exist?

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, that’s a good recap of the reasons why revenue per sales rep is so low. The training’s not there. It’s not ongoing. It’s not consistent. The tech isn’t in place or it’s not being used or leadership isn’t tech oriented. You don’t have the documented processes. They’re not documented and distributed in a way that can be helpful. Those are the really core areas that could be dragging down revenue per sales rep. So let’s talk about some of the solutions. What are some of the solutions to training? How do you start to solve those even though we know every sales manager, like ourselves, is capped on time and is often busy sawing instead of sharpening the saw?


Mastering KPIs

Taylor Barnes: Well, when it comes to the training aspect, investing time to spend with each rep individually to work with a previously established list of goals, KPIs, whatever you want to call them. In the sales machine, we call that KPI mastery. It’s really important that if we expect an individual rep to increase the revenue in his or her book then we have to really master our KPIs. And I hear this argument all the time, Josh: “I don’t want to use KPIs because they’re just a waste of time and they change so often.” My response to that is it’s a lazy managerial response. KPIs are not designed to be a pain. They’re designed to give everybody some navigational beacons and create a foundation for what needs to happen over and over and over again, the repeatable process that we talk about. It’s not to say that they can’t be adjusted. But what can’t happen is that they don’t exist, number one, they’re forgotten about, number two, or that the sales manager never leans into them individually with the sales rep, number three. That third one I see all the time. The team comes up with the five things that they should be doing every single week. And if we do those five things, it’s going to move the needle. And guess what happens to that sales manager? He or she sits back at their desk, gets bogged down with the minutia again, and they forget to ever go back to the KPIs.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I see it all the time, like you said, they’ll set those KPIs but there’s no communication around those for a whole quarter. Then the sales managers wonder, why didn’t we hit the numbers? And the team thinks, what numbers?

Taylor Barnes: Exactly.


Using One-on-One’s to Maximize Revenue Per Sales Rep

Josh Sweeney: So, yeah, KPI mastery and training around those is a big one. One of my personal things that I like to do is sit with each rep individually on a weekly basis and work with and train them. So what I notice is if you just sit with a rep for 30 minutes and watch them work, tell them to do their outbound, tell them to go through whatever they’re going to go through and ask questions along the way, you will, at least in my experience, immediately see opportunities.

Taylor Barnes: Hmm.

Josh Sweeney: You’ll see an opportunity where the sales rep is doing a repetitive action that’s costing you X number of dollars for them to sit there and do that for an hour but the software to solve it is ten bucks a month. And I get to see those training opportunities because I sit with them on an individual basis once a week and just have them work, have them show me and see what barriers I can help them overcome.

Taylor Barnes: I love that. Spending the time having the one on one, having the regular schedule, making sure we’re keeping the vessel facing north. All that, I think is very important. One thing that I think you’ve got really good experience with is on the tech side. Could you elaborate a little bit on what tech really moves the needle?


Technology that Moves the Needle

Josh Sweeney: What I like to look at is what type of sales reps do they have, what is their day to day function, and then what is taking up the most time and what would have an exponential impact on either time saved or opportunity cost. So if you’re talking about, let’s say, an outbound team that’s still manually sending email sequences using Outlook and they’re copying and pasting templates, then there’s tools that will turn that into massive volume and do automated follow ups. And if a prospect responds, it automatically pulls them out and notifies the team. That saves a tremendous amount of time. It’s not only the time savings, it also creates more opportunity because they’re putting out more volume. And, that sales rep isn’t getting bored with the monotonous portion of their job. Same thing with data. So there’s different things that move the needle based on the department, and you have to know what the technology is. If you’re high volume and you get out a lot of quotes, or your quotes are complex, maybe you need a CPQ tool that makes it just go a lot faster. So the question is, what creates ROI and where does the rubber meet the road?


Problem Solving with Processes

Taylor Barnes: Yep. I couldn’t agree more. So from a reason’s point of view, we talked about people, process and technology. For solutions we’ve talked about people and technology. So I think we need a solution around the processes. We need to look at what a sale looks like for you. It starts with the salesperson. He or she is the tip of the spear. So when he or she takes action and creates opportunity and the opportunity finally comes in, what happens that we can make repeatable all the way from start to finish? Eventually we are going to scale. Eventually we are going to need process documentation when things go wrong down the road, when sales don’t happen down the road, when things need to change down the road, rest assured, you must have something to go back to, to look at and say, why didn’t this work? Creation of those processes is a massive solution to creating more revenue per sales rep.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, I love the process angle because that really helps people. A lot of sales managers say, “I don’t have time to sit there and write these documents, nobody’s going to read the documents.” That sometimes can be true. If you’re not, as a sales manager, passing those documents on during training and re-utilizing them, then yes, nobody’s going to read them because they don’t know they’re there. But also, in creating the processes, a lot of the problem solving happens. So, I have a process that’s in Visio and it covers the moment a lead comes in all the way through to when it’s passed off to the operations and delivery team. And it’s a big, long diagram. It’s overkill. Right. It started off as a whiteboard with a bunch of sticky notes. Going through that, though, the whole goal was not just to document the process, but it was to see where the inefficiencies were and where we could start fixing and automating. This is an action that the CRM does automatically. This is a way that we can automate. And my goal was to work in the CRM and automate as many of the steps as possible. You can’t do that exercise and get more revenue per sales rep if you don’t document the process and know where those issues reside.

Taylor Barnes: Exactly and, again, those two words: repeatable processes. It really does come down to people, process and technology.

Josh Sweeney: Yeah, that’s a good wrap up, people, processes and tech. So what are you doing as a sales leader to increase the revenue per sales rep?

Taylor Barnes: And this has been Purpose Driven Sales with Barnes and Sweeney. Now go lead with purpose.

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