Improving the productivity of an existing sales team holds enormous promise for new competitive advantages. A recent HBR article on the new science of sales productivity hints at the scope of the achievable.
The authors provide a useful comparison of two approaches to achieving an 80% growth in sales over 5 years – a ‘capacity’ focus relying on additional sales hires to hit the sales target vs. a ‘productivity’ focus relying on teasing higher sales productivity from the existing team.
They conclude that an existing sales team that achieves an 8% annual improvement in their productivity will generate the same sales growth as a team that adds 27% more reps. This ignores, of course, the added costs of recruiting and training new reps.
In their view, such productivity improvements are now enabled when sales leaders implement systems around the art of selling that provide data, analyses, processes, and tools that shrink the performance gap between top performers and the rest of the sales team.
Perhaps there are, now, better ways to drive sales productivity than merely admonishing reps to work harder. They found that firms using sales productivity improving systems are typically seeing gains of 30% in sales revenues per rep within two – three years.
A summary of their comparative estimates of impact: