“You will not be successful unless you have prospectors prospecting, closers closing, and inbound lead qualifying done by people in a dedicated qualifying role. If you do that, usually companies triple how fast a qualified lead is generated”.
– Aaron Ross, author of the bestselling book, Predictable Revenue.
Commit To Specialising Your Sales
There’s an old expression, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Yet in the sales world, generating pipeline is often seen as the job of the same people responsible for closing deals. But according to Aaron Ross’s bestselling book Predictable Revenue, sales efforts should be handled by specialized, focused teams:
Consisting of outbound and inbound reps, they’re solely responsible for bringing in and handing off qualified leads. This group will be a major focus of this ebook.
Field Sales Reps or Account Executives:
These are your closers, and they should be focused on making sales, not prospecting and generating pipeline.
They specialize in nurturing and growing revenues once the AE has closed the deal.
Invest In Outbound Prospectors
The Sales Development people mentioned above, who specialize in generating qualified leads to be handed off to the closers, are actually broken up into two parts. Outbound prospectors, is one of them. Their sole focus is prospecting. But they’re hardly cold callers—at least they aren’t if they follow some best practices.
Define Your Ideal Target
First off, they should be reaching out to targets with big revenue potential (think quality over quantity). Secondly, outbound prospectors need to be prepared before contact is even attempted. This can be done by defining an ideal target profile internally, and create a structured, repeatable identification methodology. There are also tools, like CRMs, lead databases and integrated engagement solutions, that should be used to properly target and contact prospects, which we’ll get into later.
Today, email is more commonly used than phone calls. It gives both prospector and prospect more control over communications. If prospects are interested, they’ll respond with their information. And in turn, the prospector will have the information needed to not only have a more fluid conversation, but also know if the prospect is someone they should be talking to at all, which is crucial to productivity. And if not, attempts can be made to find out who that right target is within an organization.
Invest In An Outbound Lead Qualifying Team
This is the second part of the sales development team. The Inbound team’s primary role is to qualify leads that are coming in from marketing programs, like advertising, trade shows or PR.
Because, let’s face it, what comes back from those efforts is often of limited quality. But once again, it shouldn’t be the job of field sales reps or account executives to sift through those unqualified leads. They need to focus on closing deals. The goal is to create an end-to-end funnel with the mass of names and contact info going into the big end, and a steady stream of qualified leads dropping into the sales teams’ anxious hands on the small end. Here are a few tips for inbound teams.
Qualify Leads Strategically
Like the outbound team, strategies, thresholds and structured, repeatable processes should be established to maximize lead quality and rep productivity. This team’s work can be augmented with marketing automation tools on the front end of the funnel to score leads, which will help prioritize further qualification. Inbound teams should also be using a lead database that can match data and clean business leads to ensure they’re up-to-date and complete. A good database will also be able to track down social data on prospects, which can be incredibly valuable for sales reps trying to establish rapport.
Hire The Right People For The Right Roles
Aaron Ross’s philosophy in Predictable Revenue emphasizes the importance of hiring people with specialized skill sets to fill specific roles. Though it seems like a no-brainer, hiring the wrong person is common. Often this is a result of looking for the “gold-plated resume” from established environments. He describes “Builders” vs. “Growers,” explained here.
These people are entrepreneurial in spirit and quick on their feet. They’re better suited for environments that are new, like a start-up. Builders are great in outbound prospector and field sales roles, especially on teams that are new and still being established.
Growers are extremely valuable in those previously mentioned established environments, like a big company that has been around for a long time. They’re nurturers who are highly skilled in driving and continuing the growth of a company. Growers are perfect for account manager roles.
Provide Your Teams With The Right Tools and Establish Methods to Use Them
The right blend of technologies is critical to leveraging the framework discussed in the previous steps of this eBook.
A Customer Relationship Management solution is the key tool in helping organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, and customer service. In terms of the roles mentioned previously in this ebook, a CRM allows the disparate teams that are all working toward a common goal to collaborate—and also stay out of each other’s way. The best CRM tools will also include collaboration tools, which operate much like an internal social network. This transparency is key because, obviously, if a prospect is getting contacted by multiple reps from the same company, he or she is not going to feel extra loved—they’re going to feel extra annoyed.
A CRM can also give at-a-glance performance tracking to reps and managers, which is invaluable in knowing what methods (and which reps) are working well, and what’s not working. This is especially crucial to newly established teams and organizations that are trying to build best practices. These results are also extremely helpful when setting up those important strategically built, repeatable processes for outbound and inbound teams.
In order to effectively grow your pipeline and, in turn, grow your company, you can’t keep selling to existing customers. You need new prospects. Outbound reps can use a lead database to find them. But be sure to use a database that features up-to-date, complete lead data that can also be precisely filtered to find the perfect prospects. A database solution should also be natively integrated into your CRM and able to clean the data already within the CRM. This feature is incredibly valuable for the inbound reps tasked with qualifying leads. People are constantly switching jobs and positions, so if your team is being notified of these changes in real-time, it can put your field sales reps ahead of their competition.
One of the most important tools that can help lead your outbound sales team to higher productivity and more pipeline is an integrated contact center. This allows your reps to automate and optimize inbound and outbound phone calls, as well as enable them to dial from any telephone field inside of your CRM. You can also view the CRM record of the customer you’re calling so you have more information about
the prospect at your fingertips, which makes for a smoother conversation. On top of this, to increase sales rep utilization, you can set up the system so leads are automatically called when the sales reps became available, filtering out non-human contacts such as answering ma- chine. Sales reps can hold calls, transfer calls, conference in another person as well as pull up past customer calls or screen recordings to improve sales interactions on the fly.