Guest Blog: SALES PROSPECTING: EARNING PRESIDENTS AND BENJAMINS FASTER

[fusion_text]Posted by John Ferguson, Senior Consultant with ASLAN Training

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Envision Technology Advisors improve sales efficiency by 8-to-1 factor

Envision Technology Advisors offers best-in-class technology services for businesses and organizations of all sizes. They know technology and understand the value technology can provide a business when properly implemented.

Todd Knapp, CEO and Co-founder of Envision needed a solution to help his inside sales team deal with an ever growing flow of inquiries from their customers and new business prospects. Todd discovered ConnectLeader and when he first heard about the sales productivity gains their customers were realizing, he didn't totally believed it. So he continued researching. But after looking at a number of different sales dialing solutions, Todd came back to ConnectLeader because he found that they were both unique and integrated with Salesforce.com.

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How Can Busy Full-Cycle B2B Sales Reps. Make Time for Prospecting

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In most organizations, sales groups are split into business development teams and sales teams. However, there is a growing trend, especially in smaller organizations, to utilize full-cycle (or full desk) sales representatives. Full-cycle reps are responsible for the full sales cycle from prospecting to closing to account management.
This model works well in early stage companies that have a smaller client base. But as the business grows, these sales reps take on more and more responsibility. Full-cycle reps end up taking on a lot of different responsibilities and managing existing accounts and their current pipelines take up more and more time.

The result, less time is spent on qualifying and prospecting. If a strong lead generation program isn’t in place, then these full-cycle reps can see their sales pipeline dry up really fast.

Increasing Sales Without Adding Headcount

The first solution appears to be obvious, just hire more salespeople or hire business development representatives. If budgets are limited, this may not be possible or cost-effective. Are there ways to increase the sales pipeline without adding headcount? Below are a few tips to help your full-cycle sales reps to keep their pipelines full.

Organization – Sales reps can easily get distracted and do the activities they like to do instead of the activities that will make them more money. Sales managers can make daily calendars and set aside time for specific tasks. Designating one or two prospecting times per day keep the reps focused. Using a calling automation technology makes this option cost effective as dialing rates are 8 to 10 times that of manual dialing. We recommend creating an outbound calling playbook to set prospecting goals, keep track of voicemail scripts, sales positioning statements, campaigns, and new product information.

Technology – There are many software tools and applications that can help sales reps be more productive. The most important tool is the CRM which should be the center of your sales process. Integrating other sales productivity tools with your CRM will make it easier for your reps to use the tools.

Some of the technology tools and services we use at ConnectLeader (in addition to our own Team Dialer and Personal Dialer products) include Salesforce.com for our CRM,HubSpot for marketing automation, ZoomInfo, TriggerQuest for prospecting data,GotoMeeting for online meetings, LinkedIn and Twitter for social media, GaggleAmp for amplifying our social feeds, and Adobe EchoSign for electronic document transmittal.

 

Coaching – When sales teams get busy, non-selling tasks need to be minimized. However, training and sales coaching time should not be reduced. As the speed of the sales cycle increases, sales teams need to be well-informed and capable of responding to a constantly changing market. Coaching for inside sales reps can be challenging unless you have a way to monitor the sales calls and provide advise. Our products include a feature called Remote Coach offers the option to monitor the call or "whisper" to the rep. during the call. This feature really helps us speed up the onboarding process.

Prospecting Strategies – Uncovering new sales opportunities should not be an unpleasant task for salespeople since the benefit of their efforts will directly affect their success. If the well seems to be dry, try some different strategies. Here are a few ideas we find successful:

Target Account Profiling

Profiling People:  Identifying all of the parties in the sales cycle (for ConnectLeader we want to know everyone involved in the sales process including C-level, senior executives, group managers, sales operations, and marketing). Your account profiles will vary based on your product or service.

The purpose of target account profiling is to understand each person’s responsibilities, involvement in the sales process. Essentially we want to know who is who.

  • Profiling the account for existing technologies, processes, and methodologies.
  • Understand issues or challenges in the selling process.
  • Profiling the corporate process around budget cycles, purchasing, and technology evaluations.  This helps you understand what to expect when there is a buying event.

Obtaining Referrals

We often hear customers complain about bad data in their prospecting lists. Just to be clear, having an incorrect contact name or wrong title is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is an opportunity to gain intelligence about your target account without the pressure of having to make a sales pitch. Most people strive to be helpful to other salespeople (especially if they are in sales themselves). They are often more than willing to pass you on to the person you are looking for.

Multi-Channel Prospecting

There seems to be an ongoing debate over whether inbound leads are better than outbound leads. We find a better strategy is to use a multi-channel strategy to reach out to our prospects. We use a combination of email, outbound calling, social media, and automated voicemail drops to touch our prospects in as many ways as possible.

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How to Avoid Losing The Inside Sales Team When You Miss Your Goals

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Keeping your B2B sales team motivated during the dog days of summer

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The summer has a reputation among those in the B2B sales world as being a time of massive slowdown. Inside sales and business development representatives get discouraged at the low sales numbers and frustrated when trying to reach leads that seem to be perpetually on vacation. Morale begins to suffer and people end up wasting time in the office.

Encouraging your B2B sales team to keep pressing forward through the summer months can help keep the company in the black and help ensure that everyone hits the ground running when fall arrives. Here are some fantastic and fun ways to keep your sales team successful throughout the summer.

Lively department contests

Since you know that the sales slump is likely to occur during the summer months, use the time leading up to the slow months to build momentum with some fun contests. Learn what matters most to your sales team, such as a new iPad, an extra vacation day, or other type of fun prize. Then invite people to participate in a fun contest that challenges them to keep their numbers high. Some fun ideas for contests might be:

  • prizes for those who complete the most demos
  • prizes for the entire team if customer satisfaction of a particular level (such as 95 percent of polled customers) can be reached
  • prizes for new clients

Some teams might also find success if they assign a particular number of points to different tasks, such as 20 points for a new client, 15 points for a demo and 5 points for a new qualified lead, and having contests to see what team can obtain the most points in a month.

Keeping sales teams engaged when the office is slow

Sometimes, despite the most exciting contests a supervisor can imagine, the office is still slow. Even the most motivated salespeople cannot sell to customers who are on vacation. To keep the office engaged and enthusiastic about their jobs, there a few ideas you can use to help people relax and have fun while also moving towards sales success.

Celebrate small successes

Recognize hard work by celebrating even small successes, such as closing a big deal or the newbie making their first sale. Have a small party so everyone can celebrate and feel reinvigorated.

Screen inspiring movies

There are a variety of fantastic sales movies that can be used for inspiration or just some laughs such as The Boiler Room, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Goods - Live Hard, Sell Hard and Glengarry Glen Ross. Consider screening one occasionally over lunch breaks.

Role-playing and breaking down sales

Pass the time when business is slow by doing some fun role-plays or breaking down past sales. Look for what went wrong, what went right and what sales teams can learn. It is a great way to practice skills even when not speaking with customers

The summer slump is commonly acknowledged in sales circles as people struggle to find clients through the slow, hot months. To keep your sales team motivated and engaged, you have to be creative, but with proper preparation, it is entirely possible. If you find yourself staring down the approaching summer with dread, consider implementing some of the above ideas and keep your team moving forward towards the more productive autumn.

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12 Bad Habits that Destroy Inside Sales Productivity

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A B2B Sales Executive's Summer Reading List

[fusion_text]If you are planning on a vacation this summer, or will be spending a lot of time traveling for work, you may find yourself with a few hours of downtime. This book list offers suggestions of books that will peak your interest, stimulate your business thinking and give you insight into how to boost your sales for the rest of the year.

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Great News! B2B Sales Reps are Still Needed!

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Study finds B2B Sales Rep Involvement Still Critical to the Buying Process

A recent study unveiled by business-to-business research and advisory firm SiriusDecisions, found that for more than 50% of all buying scenarios, human sales interactions occurred during all phases of the buying process. In complex scenarios, sales rep involvement begins during the education phase of the buying cycle.

SiriusDecisions recently unveiled the findings from its 2015 B-to-B Buyer Study during a keynote address at its 10th Annual SiriusDecisions Summit.

The SiriusDecisions B-to-B Buying Study identifies the three stages of the buying process as Education, Solution, and Selection. It was commonly believed that 67% of the business process occurred without sales rep involvement. That is, customers would conduct research via the internet and social media prior to engaging a sales rep.

According to the report, B2B buyers interact with human sales reps in every stage of the business cycle.”

Another finding that should not be overlooked, “buyers interact with a sales representative from the winning provider organization in all phases of their decision-making process.”

"We found that buyers interact with representatives during every stage of the decision-making process at least half the time, and that the type of decision – or buying scenario – greatly impacted the number and types of interactions," said Jennifer Ross, Senior Research Director, SiriusDecisions. "Just because buying behavior is done digitally does not mean that sales representatives are no longer required to instigate or facilitate a buying process.”

Making a phone call is a great way to engage - Sales dialing automation makes it better

A phone call is a great way to exchange information between a buyer and a seller. It is easy to do, does not cost much, and can jumpstart the buying process. Inside sales reps should not be shy about contacting prospective buyers as early in the sales process as possible.

Sales dialing automation makes the telephone process even easier and more cost-effective.

Other blogs on this topic that may be of interest:

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The 3 Qualifying Questions Inside Sales Reps Must Ask

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How to be successful in your first business development job

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