Building a Better Sales Team

Building a Better Sales Team

A strong sales force is the backbone of many companies, but that team faces its own particular hurdles. Lead generation and cold calling, for example, are onerous tasks. Many businesses expect their sales staff to be responsible for all of their own prospecting. This may not be the best approach.

The goal is to encourage a flow of leads—along with the repeatable, predictable revenue they generate—and potentially eliminate cold calling altogether. That requires a change in how your sales team operates and is structured.

Let’s see how building a better sales team can help.

Specialization

Disparate responsibilities can kill productivity. A generalized sales role results in a lack of motivation, focus, training and support. An overly-generalized sales force often also suffers from unclear metrics (it’s harder to keep track of inbound leads and conversion rates when too many duties are stuffed into one area), and more difficulty in understanding why something isn’t working; it is tough to isolate and fix particular issues when too much is put on your sales team’s plate.

There are four roles you should consider creating for a more specialized sales team: lead qualifiers, cold callers, account executives and account managers.

Your lead qualifiers, or market response reps, should focus on prospects coming to you, be it through your website or word of mouth. Cold callers are just that—they should focus on developing or redeveloping cold leads proactively. Account executives focus on closing deals, and take advantage of the work from your lead qualifiers and cold callers. Account managers act as support staff; they maintain ongoing customer contact and renewals.

As your business grows, more specialized roles can develop.

Don’t Assume You’re Too Small for Specialization

You don’t need a massive sales team to create specialized roles. Once you’ve hired a salesperson to start tackling lead generation, it’s time to hire someone to seal the deal and close. Take to heart the 80/20 rule: once someone is spending more than 20 percent of their time on a task outside of their own primary role, it’s time to create a new role.

Target High-Level Leads

The biggest bottleneck in prospecting is finding the right contact person and successfully engaging them. We recommend seeking out high-level executives.

When emailing and reaching out, avoid sounding too “salesy.” Keep it short and sweet for a better response rate. You need to engage people before you can make any sales. It may be as simple as asking who the correct contact person is.

This is the next iteration of cold calling: mass emails to executives asking for referrals. There is a simple process for your sales development people to follow.

Create an ideal customer profile, someone with the highest revenue potential and close rates. Import it into a sales and marketing system like Agile CRM. Run your email campaign (Agile CRM also offers a fantastic email marketing solution). Pitch your lead by connecting their need to your solution. Pass the lead off to an account executive—a quota-carrying rep who can close the deal.

From Prospect to Customer

The customer journey is a process that your sales team needs to understand, facilitate and be patient with. Their job is critical in the sense that they are walking a lead, step by step, toward a purchase. Rushing that process is what can get a sales team into trouble. Instead, present them with options and let them make the decisions.

It’s all about figuring out where compatibilities lie and building trust along the way. The more a prospect trusts you, the more willing they are to engage. By that same token, as the process continues, the more you’ll be able to ascertain if the customer is a good fit for the business—before you commit extra time and resources to them.

You can’t always help it if a prospect gets stuck somewhere on their journey. What you can do, however, is take that opportunity to devise new tactics and ways to entice the prospect into taking the next step. Having a salesperson whose job is to focus on nurturing and guiding leads is the best way to walk a prospect into a sale.

A different methodology for your sales team means they can succeed where others fail. It’s also important to ditch traditional cold calling. Instead, look at it from a referral and research perspective. Offer higher quality lead nurturing. Ultimately, you want a sales team that’s comprised of business people who can sell rather than just salespeople.

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Peter Kowalke

Peter Kowalke is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years.

1 Comment

Heather

about 1 year ago

Great points here, especially the part about recruiting business people that can sell as opposed to salespeople who may lack the relationship focus. It does all come down to trust. I heard a wise person (I promise, not myself) once say, "Processes take pressure off of the sales people." And to elaborate, when we have a great process, empowered with such a robust and professional Swiss-army knife tool like Agile CRM, it actually helps to simplify where our focus should be-- on the client relationship! We're then amped up to spend more time on the practical, and a little less on the tactical. Wouldn't it be great if everyone were able to focus on the next conversation that the customer is wanting to have instead of the agenda we're trying to push forward. When our brains are overrun with everything in the background, we're distracted from truly hearing our clients and building that relationship. That customer journey is most precious, because they can choose to do business with anyone else at any given time. What will set us apart and rise in their eyes will be the quality experience we can give them-- to have them know and feel that they are heard. That will earn us a customer, a friend, and a referral! Definitely– hire a business professional, a relationship professional, and then add the sales!

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