What came first the chicken or the egg? Who really knows? But one thing we know for sure, building a successful sales organization depends are several factors, including the alignment within sales, marketing, and management.
Here is a real-life example of a company who had its own strategy of creating leads, following up on the opportunities, and closing business without including their sales team.
- They hired an outside agency for lead generation. The agency failed to provide qualified leads. The agency relationship was terminated
- They hired a consultant to seek out a team of seasoned, successful sales contributors. They were hired.
- They hired a consultant to manage the sales team because their “sales manager” had ZERO experience running a sales team or putting them through a weekly cadence.
Marketing, management, and the sales organization were not on the same page throughout their employment. Management’s opinion of their new sales team was “we hired them to create opportunities and close business. They are responsible for creating their own lead generation and writing their own email marketing campaigns. We will follow up on all the inbound leads we receive”.
As I continued to ask questions regarding the success of their lead generation and lead conversion, I learned they lacked serious skills. Here are a few data points. Based on their analytics, they had less than a 1% lead generation and < 3% lead conversion with almost 1% customer conversion. The email campaigns were poorly written. They were almost “demand” emails. I’m surprised they were able to convert 1% of the leads into a paying customer.
The quota assigned to the sales team was beyond achievable. The sales team was released for poor performance.
This is a real-life example of a company who clearly had its own objective of how to work as a team. This company did not have the proper sales tools implemented, the right management team in place, nor did they have an experienced marketing team. Right from the beginning, this team was setup for failure.
In this blog, I am going to focus on building a sales team, collaborating, and the payoff.
- Hire Right
- Train new hires
- Align Sales and Marketing
- Remote working
- Employee Motivation
Hire right — As a startup or even a small business, many people will shoot from the hip and not be prepared to ask the right questions in the interviewing process. They will allow the conversation to take its course and use their “gut feeling” as the selection indicator. However, the problem with using the “gut” feeling, you can’t duplicate that process. You can’t measure its effectiveness or quantify the results. Harvard Business Review wrote an article on The Science of Building a Scalable Sales Team. In this article, they suggested using a scorecard with specific criteria that can be measured, fine-tuned, which leads to a consistent hiring process for salespeople. Salespeople who have prior success, intelligence, strong work ethic, and who are coachable will be successful at their job.
Training New Hires — The process of training your new hires are critical to their success. If they are left to “figure out” the in’s and out’s of your business, they will struggle throughout their ramp-up time. Many small businesses use the “shadow” approach — assigning the new hire to follow a tenured rep to learn the ropes. There are positive and negative aspects of this approach. The biggest fault is the inability to duplicate and measure the process. The positive is team development, personalization, and one-on-one mentoring. However, having a documented process will allow for each new hire to follow in the same footsteps as the previous new hire while documenting their progress and scoring their results.
Align Sales and Marketing — In order to build a powerhouse marketing organization, you need sales and marketing to work together, not independently. Both departments are required to set forth a strategy to develop a lead generation program. There are several tools available to automate a marketing campaign. But before marketing is able to begin the process of lead generation, they require the assistance of the sales department to select their target audience. Once the companies, departments, and audience are selected, its time for marketing to develop the persona for their target audience. Keep in mind, sales have the same obligation as marketing to generate leads. The purpose of working collectively is to not duplicate efforts.
CRM — One of the most important tools a salesperson can have is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management). A salesperson uses a CRM to help manage their time, prospects, and opportunities, thus resulting in higher customer satisfaction, maximizes up-selling and cross-selling, better communication within a company, and optimizes marketing efforts.
Leads — How to handle incoming leads? Before marketing initiates its first email marketing campaign, they have to determine best practices for inbound leads. Time is the utmost importance. If a prospect sends in an inquiry to learn about your product or services, the first twenty-four hours becomes the difference between a successful campaign or a failure. As the clock continues to tick away, the hot prospects begin to get warmer until eventually, they are no longer interested in having a conversation. By using a CRM that integrates into a product like Marketo, the leads would automatically be assigned to the proper salesperson.
Remote Working — what a better way to increase customer satisfaction than allowing your sales team to work remotely. The millennium generation seeks work-life-balance. With SaaS and Cloud capabilities, employees are not limited to office hours in order to complete their job. Put in place a policy that allows employees to work remotely one or two days a week.
Employee Motivation — Cold calling, email drip campaigns, following up on leads, prospects saying they are “not interested” can lead to a loss of motivation. One way to keep salespeople motivated is by implementing an employee engagement tool like Jostle, Clearcompany, or EngagePath by. Employee engagement software helps to keep all employees engaged by sharing individual and company accomplishments, in addition to keeping employee’s informed on what is going on within the company. Today, you will find many businesses putting in place a form of gamification that helps engage and motivate salespeople and non-salespeople alike.
Mentoring — documenting and putting sound infrastructure in place is critical to any business. Salespeople by nature are competitive. However, creating a collaborative environment where each team member steps up to help a new hire. For the mentor, it provides a means to give back to the company, encourages the mentor to share knowledge; for the company, it fosters more loyal employees and reduces employee turnover rate; and for the mentoree — increases interpersonal relationship skills and helps understand the corporate culture and unspoken rules.
For many startups and small businesses, hiring the right sales team can be very challenging. Many businesses turn to outside consultants to help seek the right talent. For some, the results can be very rewarding. For others, just a complete waste of money. As you continue to hire more salespeople to keep up with your company’s growth, keep these eight points in mind — hire right, training new hires, aligning sales and marketing, using a CRM tool to track customers and leads, put a policy in place for remote working, integrate a gamification tool to keep your employees motivated and engaged, and consider the benefits of mentoring new hires. By investing a little time and resources, you will end up with lower employee turnover and higher employee satisfaction, resulting in increased productivity and growth of your business.