$12B Is Spent Annually to Increase Sales Activity Volume – But It’s Not Working

By: Teresa Weirich

February 27, 2018

Sales teams are among the most innovative departments within an organization due to their need to continually sell products, solutions, and services in the midst of a highly competitive market. Many sales leaders consistently adopt tools to help their sales teams create more value, eliminate wasted processes and admin tasks, increase sales activity, and improve sales velocity. After all, even small incremental improvements can help teams differentiate in meaningful ways.

While many tools are indeed critical to a sales team’s success (CRMs, lead nurturing programs, and sales engagement platforms), others cost significant resources without providing tangible revenue results. In fact, sales organization spend $12B annually to increase sales activity volume, but it’s not substantially moving the needle. On top of that, the more companies that adopt this ‘more equals better’ mentality, the more quality ultimately suffers and the more clutter sales organizations need to cut through just to have an initial conversation. This downward spiral isn’t just harming your organization, but the industry as a whole.

Try a quick experiment with us. Type “increase sales activity volume” into Google and count how many hits you get. You’ll be served countless “top 5” lists and ads for vendors that want you to adopt their tool or buy their lists so your sales team members can send more email, make more calls, and otherwise increase volumes. While none of these things are bad perse, ask yourself if these tactics:

  • Help your sales professionals have more intentional conversations (not just more interactions)?
  • Help you, as sales manager, coach based on data and actual conversation outcomes?
  • Help you and your team iterate and continually improve upon the sales methodology?

If your team is laser-focused on attaining daily calls and email volume, it’s unlikely.

Ad Hoc Activity Improvements Don’t = Results

The result of patching together several sales tools and platforms to be utilized along the sales cycle often results in an ad hoc process that’s disconnected from data and from other sales performance platforms.

Sales leaders can become frustrated when the tools they have adopted don’t ‘talk’ to each other and share data as they should. The problem can often be traced back to the desire for each of tool to play a niche role in the sales process. Instead, what frequently occurs are many siloed tools that lead to sales professionals becoming frustrated and abandoning process so that they can meet their daily activity targets. And that $12B that’s spent annually to increase volume? It mostly goes to show that it is indeed possible for sales professionals to make 50+ calls a day and send countless ‘follow-up’ emails… though not likely beneficial to the company’s bottom line.

Audit and Eliminate Unproductive Sales Tools

Instead of pouring significant resources into improving sales activity volumes, consider taking a more fruitful approach by eliminating unnecessary ad-hoc tools and adopting an end-to-end agile sales approach. Start by conducting an audit of your current sales tech stack by answering these questions:

  • Does this tool give me data or metrics that allow me to be a better sales coach?
  • Does this tool help my sales professionals have better conversations, improve their discovery process, assist with objections, send and manage proposals, or close more deals?
  • Does this tool add reporting or analytics power that allows me to pinpoint where our team can improve?
  • Does this tool allow me to have improved visibility into the sales pipeline?
  • Does this tool allow me to have more data-informed conversations with peers, executives, or Board members?
  • Does this tool protect or improve the data of our prospects and customers?
  • Does this tool directly contribute (or directly influence) revenue?
  • How many of the above questions did you answer “Yes” to for each solution in your sales tech stack? All of them? One or two of them? None of them?

No one else knows your sales process or tech stack better than you, and there’s no silver bullet for determining which sales tools are actually productive to the bottom line and which are more hassle and cost than they’re actually worth. Reviewing the above questions for each solution your team has accumulated over the years may cause you to make some adjustments and slim down. Also, keep in mind that sales technologies can quickly become outdated or unnecessary to the sales process and may not be as effective as they were a year or even a few months ago. To avoid hanging onto tools that are no longer useful, conduct this exercise annually and adjust user licenses or subscriptions as needed.

In the wise words of the late Steve Jobs, “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” While these words certainly applied to the work that Steve demonstrated in building Apple, the same truth applies to sales organizations of all sizes.

Certainly, the way to improve the bottom line isn’t by increasing volume, but by increasing the quality of every interaction, and therefore the value that ever customer experiences throughout their partnership with your organization.

  • Teresa Weirich's Headshot
    Teresa Weirich

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