The #1 Productivity Investment Sales Teams Are Making This Year [Research]

March 21, 2015

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There are several levers sales leaders can pull to boost their teams' productivity. The tricky part is knowing which to prioritize. Should they double down on rep training? Implement new technology? Or would the organization benefit most from a compensation plan shake-up?

While there's no clear "right" answer to this question, data from the Miller Heiman Research Institute can at least help sales leaders compare their productivity investment plans with those of their peers.

According to the 2014 MHI Research Institute Sales Performance and Productivity Study, the top two productivity investments sales teams have on the docket for 2014-2015 are:

  1. Improving product knowledge and market competitive intelligence (82%)
  2. Improving process, skills, or competency training (81%)

Tamara Schenk, research director at Miller Heiman, categorized both of these initiatives under the umbrella of Sales Enablement. 

"These investment areas cover both knowledge transfer and behavioral change. The former is primarily addressed with content services, the latter with training services," she wrote in a blog post.

But sales leaders need to effectively implement these enablement changes if they hope to see a return on their investments, Schenk cautioned. "Two one-way roads in parallel don’t lead to more productivity. These services have to be connected to create value instead of noise. Providing content alone is not enabling the sales force."

So, what fell to the end of the priority list?

Technology. According to the survey, the two least commonly planned productivity investments are deploying a new CRM system (48%), and deploying new sales productivity applications (54%). While 28% of respondents said their organizations had invested in a new CRM system in 2013 or earlier, which could explain why fewer teams planned to take on a CRM rollout, a surprising 38% of survey takers had no plans to invest in sales productivity apps

What's your take on the high prioritization of enablement initiatives and the relatively low prioritization of sales technology? Weigh in in the comment section below.

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