Secrets to Successful Inside Sales Management


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This best practices guide will walk you through a variety of best practices, techniques and ideas to both tactically and strategically increase the efficacy, success and impact of your inside sales organization.

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Secrets to Successful Inside Sales Management

  1. 1. Secrets to Successful Inside Sales ManagementManaging inside sales used to be quite simple. It was about dials, volume, scripts and Five Reasons Why Inside Salesquick closes. It was inexperienced sales reps that powered through lists and sold the same Is Replacing Field Sales 2way to everybody. Seven Keys To Successful Sales Management 3Today’s successful inside sales environments don’t look anything like that. Inside sales is Eight Tips For Hiringrapidly replacing field sales as the primary channel for many organizations, and the qual- Better Sales Reps 4ity of professionals, as well as the more complex nature of selling to today’s buyer, makes Ten Best Practicesinside sales management best practices one of the linchpins of sales acceleration success for For Better Cold Calling 5B2B companies nationwide. Template For A Weekly,Smart inside sales managers are combining a traditional, metrics and activity-based Metrics-Driven Insideapproach with buyer-centric, consultative selling practices that keep energy and progress Sales Rep Meeting 6on the sales floor high, while building meaningful buyer relationships that increase closed A Much Better Daily Metricbusiness and revenue growth. For Managing Inside Sales 6This best practices guide will walk you through a variety of best practices, techniques and Improve Sales Forecast Accuracy With Theseideas to both tactically and strategically increase the efficacy, success and impact of your Seven Steps 7inside sales organization. The Six Elements Of A Perfect Sales Meeting 8 Six Ways To Get Your Sales Reps Back Above Quota 9 Eight More Ways To Get Sales Reps Back Above Quota 10 Your Sales Reps Need Bigger Toys 11 Five Focus Areas For Inside Sales Improvement This Year 11 How To Get “Lost” Prospects To Re-Engage 12 Six Priorities To Remember As Your Sales Team Grows 13
  2. 2. Five Reasons Why Inside Sales Is Replacing Field SalesThis may feel redundant or obvious to those already using 3. Work/Life Balanceor managing inside sales teams, but the shift from field Inside sales used to be for the junior sales reps. It was asales to inside sales—especially in companies and industries training ground, the minor leagues if you will, for gradu-that have traditionally relied heavily or exclusively on out- ating to higher-paying field sales roles. But those outsideside sales teams—has accelerated in the past year. sales reps are increasingly tired of being on the road andInside sales is cheaper typically to execute, but many away from their families. These reps want to stay in sales,companies have assumed that field sales—and the face- continue earning high commissions, but do so withouttime it allows in front of prospects, based on their size or nearly the same level of travel. These people are workingthe complexity of their problems—drives greater success, for companies that are leveraging their sales skills, experi-differentiation and deal conversion. That’s no longer true, ence and expertise (while still allowing them to be homeand sales teams nationwide are proving it every day. for dinner).I believe this shift is happening for a variety of reasons, but 4. The Cost Of Long-Distance Telephone Callsthese five seem to be the greatest accelerants. This feels tactical, but it’s a major issue for organizations1. Improvements In Web And Video Conferencing that, in the past, have been able to compare long-distanceWebinars have been around for a while now. Presenting bills with travel and entertainment budgets for their fieldsomeone a PowerPoint deck online while describing it teams. Long distance via traditional phone carriers is stillover the phone is old technology, and not entirely effec- pricey, but the cost of doing business all day via phone andtive. But the proliferation of more interactive, multi-media Web (especially with VOIP phones, Skype and other Web-conferencing tools that combine images, presentations, based means of prospecting and meeting) has decreaseddemos and video of participants is getting closer to recreat- dramatically, which if nothing else has organizations re-ing the “we’re here together live” experience of outside evaluating their sales deployments.sales. It’s allowing participants to see each other, use non- 5. Buyer Behavior And Preferencesverbal communication signals, and keep prospects engagedduring presentations. As seller, we may prefer to have the face-to-face meetings. And historically, our buyers wanted that too. But more2. Social Media and Profiles often, buyers don’t want that level of commitment.A primary value of social media and social profiles for the They’re busier than ever, and are just as good having asales process is to better understand who the prospect is— quick call or videoconference vs. an in-person meeting.what he or she cares about, does during and after work, It feels faster and more flexible, and the same business andetc. It’s about relationship building; a key asset in the sales outcomes result at the end.process and previously difficult to execute without beingthere in person. Now, you can learn far more about theprospect and use that information before, during and afterinteractions from afar to build rapport. 2
  3. 3. Seven Keys To Successful Sales ManagementMuch has been written about what makes for a good sales 4. Conflict Managementmanager and effective sales management strategy. But as No matter the size, age, nature or overall make-up of theevery sales rep, manager and executive knows, it’s often sales organization, there will be conflict. I’ve heard somethe intangibles that separate good sales managers from the inside sales managers describe their culture as somewhatgreat ones. akin to middle school. Ineffective sales managers, in thisBelow are seven key attributes I most often find in the environment, take up the role of that vice principal youbest, most successful sales managers. In this case, I’m remember who was always in charge of discipline. Moredefining success not only by how well they hit their num- effective sales managers enforce behavior and disciplineber, but how well they inspire, empower and prepare their standards but do it in a more productive way—leveragingteams for sustained success as well. their standards of both consistency and fairness to get the1. Creativity team focused.Even with a well-defined sales process, a consistent brand 5. Confidenceposition and standardized tools, successful sales manag- Don’t mistake this for optimism. Great sales manag-ers are constantly innovating and improvising to get more ers don’t need to be glass-half-full people all the time.out of the market and their teams. This goes for every- But they need to exhibit confidence in their teams, theirthing from objection handling to internal contests and products, their companies and the daily/weekly/regularmore. The very best sales managers are both creative and processes that deliver results. Sales reps look to their man-disciplined, meaning they’re able to not only come up agers daily for guidance and direction—not only in wherewith great new ideas to test, but also effectively triage and to focus, but in how to act. Confidence from the top downmeasure their effectiveness. drives behavior, effort and results.2. Consistency 6. Can-Do, Will-Do AttitudeYou can’t play favorites. You can’t adjust expectations I’ve worked with sales managers who have great ideas buttoo often. When your sales reps are facing adversity and rarely get their hands dirty. The best sales managers leada highly dynamic selling environment (often where “no” by example, regularly roll up their sleeves and work rightis the most commonly-heard answer), consistency on the along side you. They join you on sales calls, build the next-part of the sales manager is extremely important. Consis- month sales promotion, dig through lead list options withtency drives trust and credibility for sales managers, which the marketing team, and otherwise focus plenty of timeallows them to get away with occasional bursts of creativity and energy not just on managing but also doing.without implying that the entire ship is turning a different 7. Calmdirection. Not necessarily calm as in quiet or shy. Calm as in patient.3. Curiosity Even-keeled. Passionate at times but generally a combina-Great sales managers drive their bosses and often their tion of consistent and confident, steady when the day ormarketing counterparts nuts. They’re always asking ques- the last sales call or the markets are roiling. This provides ations—why is it like that, how did that work, why didn’t foundation for the entire team to drive from.we try it this way, should we participate in this new usergroup, etc. Similar to creativity, however, curiosity is bestexecuted when there’s a level of discipline and account-ability behind it. Asking questions is one thing—havinga productive opinion and volunteering to help identify orexecute the answer or solution is quite another. 3
  4. 4. Eight Tips For Hiring Better Sales RepsGuest post by Juli Bacon, president, JB Consulting Systems doing paperwork they are not on the phone making salesIn the course of my 19+ years of human resources experi- or out in the field making sales. If you have more thanence, I have dealt with many issues due to poor hiring one or two sales reps, you might consider hiring a gooddecisions related to sales representatives. Looking back administrative assistant or sales assistant to process theover the various disciplinary or termination issues, I found paperwork.that most employers make common mistakes in hiring, Great Sales Reps Might Make More Money Than Anyonemotivating, promoting and terminating sales reps. Else In The Company, Even The Owner And That’s OKRather than addressing these mistakes one crisis at a time, I have heard owners make comments about their sales repsI decided it is finally time to write some of my observations making more money than them and some have even ter-down and spread the word to a larger audience. minated sales reps because they did make more money. IfSales Representatives Must Be Motivated they are making a lot of money then your company should be making more money. I struggle with this issue morePeople are different, so you have to figure out what moti- than most. At times, I have seen some instances where thevates them to sell for you. For some, the almighty dollar is company had a poor commission structure but other timesa significant motivation while the adrenaline rush of “mak- it seems as if the owner just doesn’t understand that sellinging the deal” may energize others. Your sales person might more makes them more inspired by hitting a sales number, making a quota,hitting enough sales to push them to a higher commission Don’t Micromanage Your Sales Representativeslevel. If your business relies heavily on making cold calls, a If you have given your sales reps time to learn your prod-person who sells best through building relationships is not uct or service, understand how the sales process works andgoing to perform well. then sent them on their way, you need to give them someHire Only Sales Reps That Are Motivated time to make their sales. Many owners or sales managersBy Your Commission Structure schedule way too many meetings with their sales reps to find out how they are selling, who they are working onIf you have a set commission structure and you aren’t go- and when the deal will be made. This not only irritatesing to make changes to it, then only hire sales reps that are a good sales rep but also demotivates them and wastesused to selling under that type of structure. Otherwise you precious selling time. A weekly sales meeting early in thewill not get the results you expect. morning or during off selling time should be adequate. IfSales Reps Do Not Have To Be Experts On Your Product it isn’t, something isn’t working right.Many companies make the mistake of requiring that a There Is A Big Difference Betweensales person have a certain amount of experience in their Inside And Outside Sales Representativesparticular industry. This is rarely necessary. A good sales Sales people who are really good at inside or outside salesperson with a bit of education in your industry will figure can rarely make the transition from one to the other veryout the key information necessary to sell your product or well. There are those that do, but the positions requireservice. You don’t want them to be the expert. I think of a different skills.good sales rep as someone who can make you sell the shirtoff your back and make you think it’s your idea. Good inside sales reps do not have to be face to face with the customer to make sales, and they may not like or doGood Sales Reps Are Good Listeners well trying to sell face to face. They build their “salesProspective customers with the right prompting will tell persona” on the phone and that persona might not be whoyou what their “pain” is and the right sales rep will listen they really are. Moving them to an outside sales positionfor that and sell how your product or service will help stop where they have to interact with people can have a dev-the pain. astating affect on their esteem as well as their sales. GoodSales Reps Must Be Free To Sell outside sales reps rely on watching body language andAnd Not Be Bogged Down By Paperwork looking their prospect in the eye. That same person may have difficulty making a meaningful connection over theI have seen many clients require outside sales people to be the office a certain amount of time. I have seen clientsrequire their sales staff to process a lot of paperwork. Ifthey are in the office, they aren’t out selling and if they are 4
  5. 5. Ten Best Practices For Better Cold CallingCold calling is hard, there’s no getting around that. It can blogs, and newsletters. Constantly improve based onoften feel like a machete in the jungle, but some of the what’s already working around you.most successful salespeople in the world have and continueto drive their own performance and results based on the 6. Dress Upcold call. There is a big difference between cold calling in ratty blue jeans and in nice dress pants. You may only be on theHere are ten specific best practices to improve your cold phone, but you will feel far more professional and yourcalling approach, performance and results. work product will relay that. Dress the part.1. Have An Offer 7. Use A Wireless HeadsetDon’t make the call with an ask, but call with an offer. I’m surprised at how many inside sales reps still prefers theGive something of value to the prospect, free of charge handset phone. Anything that gets in the way of keepingand with no strings attached. Make it something immedi- a rhythm and staying in the zone when you’re calling is aately relevant to their current business or priorities. Use it distraction. With a headset, you’re also much more likelyas a means of starting the conversation, breaking the ice, to evoke passion into your voice when speaking with aand building some quick early trust and credibility. prospect, since you’re hands and body are more free to2. Stay Focused On Volume move naturally as you speak.Cold calling is either a numbers game or a ratio game, 8. Your Lists Are Always Going To Suckdepending on who you ask. The numbers game implies It’s not marketing’s fault. Lists, inherently, aren’t perfect.focusing on a high volume of activities to reach interested You’re going to call someone who isn’t at the companyprospects, and the ratio game implies driving a higher rate anymore, or who isn’t the right contact. You’re going toof success with the lists, offers and context in which you call a company that’s not in your target market. Know thatsell. Either way, results are driven by volume. As a cold the quality of your list is part of the process. Work withcaller, oftentimes the one and only thing you can control is your sales manager (and marketing team) to constantly im-the number of times you pick up the phone and dial again. prove list quality based on call results and conversion rates,Use volume to your advantage. but know when to quickly move on from a bad contact or3. Get In The Zone And Avoid Distractions number to the next one.It’s all too easy to make a couple calls and find an excuse 9. Set Goals And Mini-Rewards Throughout The Dayto get up. Refresh your coffee, chat with your manager, do You’re motivated by closed sales and commission checks,a victory lap, whatever. Ignore the temptation to get up obviously. But also give yourself mini-rewards to workso often, and stay focused on more activity. Turn off your towards throughout the day as motivation to keep activityFacebook, put your phone away, put on your headset and high. It could be a latte run after XX number of dials, orkeep working. an afternoon treat once you hit a particular activity mile-4. Get Comfortable With Rejection stone. Find the tactical, tangible ways to motivate yourselfAnd Have A Short Memory throughout the day to keep going.The majority of the time you’re cold calling, you’re hear- 10. Use A Disposition Process And Move Oning rejection. You will hear “no” far more than “yes,” and Just because you make one call and leave a voicemailthe best reps in the world push right through that and into doesn’t mean you’re done with that prospect. Create and/the next call. The best professionals in the world—athletes, or use a disposition process to effectively work throughinventors, innovators—all face failure constantly, but know that each prospect—with a short sequence of calls, voicemailstheir next success is just one at-bat or idea or cold call away. and follow-up emails over the course of several business5. Learn From Those Around You days. If you don’t have any response after this disposi- tion sequence, mark the lead as “nurture” and move on.If your organization has a formal best practice-sharing There’s a short point of diminishing returns with a pros-focus (via a library or team meetings or otherwise), soak pect who hasn’t responded to your advances, and you’ll beit up like a sponge. Find the other sales reps on your team much more likely to reach a qualified prospect live if youwho are successful cold callers and take them to lunch or play the numbers this Learn their best practices directly. Read books, 5
  6. 6. Template For A Weekly, Metrics-Driven Inside Sales Rep MeetingIf you manage inside salespeople, you likely talk to them Lead Review (10 Minutes)multiple times a week if not daily. But a weekly 1:1 meeting • Current lead volume and follow-up (Are there any un-is still an important means of ensuring focus, productivity touched leads? Are there any that are active but haven’tand results from every rep. Done right, it can also save you a been contacted in a long while?)lot of time through the week by consolidating a lot of infor-mation into one dedicated, managed period of time. • Which current leads are close to becoming opportunities?Below is a 30-minute sales meeting template you can use • Discuss overall lead disposition and follow-up (Why areor modify for your organization. The key here is to make it some leads not moving forward? What are the primaryas metrics-driven and objective as possible, with a focus on lead-to-opportunity objections and roadblocks you areidentifying and resolving obstacles to greater success. encountering?)Opportunity Pipeline Review (10 Minutes) Activity Review (5 Minutes)• Closed-Won vs. Quota, quarter-to-date (or month, or • Metrics review whatever your selling period is) (dials, talk time, demos—last week goal vs. actual)• Pipeline volume with current-quarter close-date • Discuss roadblocks and challenges (What specifically (Should ideally be at least 3X quota) is keeping you from hitting activity goals? What tools, resources, etc. would make these goals easier to achieve?)• Discuss roadblocks and challenges (Where are some deals stuck? How could the pipeline be bigger? Are there Additional Challenges And Roadblocks (5 Minutes) any future quarter deals that can be pulled into the • What specifically is keeping you from selling more? current quarter?) • What specific, additional support do you need to find and close more business? • What additional support can the business provide to make you more successful?A Much Better Daily Metric For Managing Inside SalesFor inside sales teams, two traditional daily measures of stuck around long enough to hear more about what youproductivity have been dials and talk time. Most inside have to say. If that assumption holds true, I can likelysales teams watch the dial figure closely in particular, and build a predictable model based on how many five-minutehave daily expectations or quotas for outbound calls. phone calls are likely to turn into qualified leads and newWhen you think about it, that measure is not only arbi- opportunities.trary, but also misleading and potentially counterproduc- For sales qualifiers (i.e. inside sales teams that qualify newtive. If I’m focused on dial volume, I’m not having sub- leads for pass-along to account executives), this is a par-stantive conversations with people I reach. I’m also more ticularly valuable metric. But even for those who own thelikely to hound prospects to the point of harassment. Not relationship to close, a prospect you catch off-guard isn’tan ideal way to start a relationship. likely going to have time for an in-depth conversation orSome inside sales organizations have combined dials and demo right then and there. A 5–10 minute call lets you asktalk time into a far better metric to track on a daily or some qualifying questions, gauge interest, and scheduleweekly basis—number of five-minute phone calls. next steps.If you’re on the phone for five minutes or more, it’s likely Hat tip to Josh for this.a substantive call. You’ve engaged a prospect, and they’ve 6
  7. 7. Improve Sales Forecast Accuracy With These Seven StepsA consistent weak point across sales organizations is their new opportunities may reduce the volume of opportuni-sales forecast. ties created, but it also increases the likelihood that thoseYes, it’s difficult to predict which sales will close. But your deals will close, which in turn makes your forecast far moreforecast drives numerous decisions across the organization. accurate.And when forecasts are wrong, the implications go well 5. Conduct Regular Deal Reviewsbeyond commission checks. Sit down with your sales reps and walk through their pipe-To improve the quality and accuracy of your sales forecasts, lines. Not just names and numbers, but context. Ask for thestarting immediately, I recommend the following seven steps. back-story, why they’re qualified, what the compelling event1. Use Consistent Definitions internally is that’s driving action. This isn’t about not trust- ing your reps; it’s about establishing a culture of account-If your entire sales team is working from a consistent set of ability, learning and collaboration.definitions (i.e. what is a good lead, what is a qualified op-portunity, etc.), then it’s easier to trust the data you have. Make these deal reviews about helping your reps brainstormIf you look historically at your conversion rates—overall, new ways of accelerating deals, establishing greater urgencyby industry, by geography, by rep—it’s easier to predict with latent opportunities, and creating greater incomeconversion rates and new sales from a future pipeline of opportunities for them personally. In the process, you’llopportunities. The entire sales and marketing team needs have a more intimate idea of the quality and accuracy of theto understand these definitions, and sales management pipeline.needs to enforce their usage on a regular basis. 6. Make Updating The Forecast Fast, Easy2. Know Your Sales Cycle Length And Mandatory For Your RepsIf you get a good lead today, when will it likely close? This Opportunities change after they’ve entered the pipeline.week? This quarter? This year? Many inaccurate sales fore- Close dates move out. Or up. Deals that were on a fast trackcasts get this one piece of data wrong, meaning your con- suddenly slow down, and perhaps should be moved back toversion rates are accurate but don’t take place in the window an earlier stage. Most reps don’t want to make these chang-of time you assumed. You eventually get the revenue, but es to opportunities in their CRM system, as that may implynot at the time your organization was expecting it. By building weakness in their own pipelines and selling a typical (or even conservative) sales cycle length into your Instead, make it easy and mandatory to make these changesmodel, you’re making it easier to map expected sales to the in real-time. Make it clear to the sales organization thatweek, month, quarter or year in which they’re likely to land. these changes will help management improve selling con- ditions, and address real-time changes with the resources3. Read Market Changes needed to close more business.(And Their Impact On Closing Behavior)The model you built last year might not work this year. 7. Reward Accuracy And HonestyIf market conditions are weak, sales cycle length may have Very few sales organizations reward pipeline performancespread out. If budgets are tighter, an earlier decision maker and behavior. They compensate based on closed business,may need permission from the CFO to take action now. but not based on how close reps come to their forecasts.These changes can wreak havoc on your sales forecast if Create incentives for your reps to accurately forecast theiryou don’t anticipate, identify and adjust both behavior and expected sales. Foster an environment where honest changesexpectations as a result. to forecasts, even if the news isn’t good, is encouraged and rewarded.4. Require A “Compelling Event”To Become An Opportunity Would you really reward a rep for reducing their sales fore- cast? Absolutely. Imagine the alternative; that they led youIt’s the right contact at the right company in an ideal mar- to believe their output would be much higher when theyket. They can surely benefit from your product or service. knew they couldn’t deliver.But do they want it? Is it a priority? Is there somethinginternally that is driving urgency and prioritization of what What strategies and tactics have you used in your sales orga-you’re selling? Requiring a defined “compelling event” for nization to improve accuracy? What can you add to this list? 7
  8. 8. The Six Elements Of A Perfect Sales MeetingDo you dread the weekly sales team meeting? Feel like it’s 4. Trainingwasting your time? If so, somebody’s not doing it right. Constantly make your team better. Bring in outsiders toReviewing a pipeline report may not be your idea of fun, teach a skill or customer insight. Review the latest productbut effective sales meetings are well-planned, well-execut- features. Practice objection-handling or consultative sellinged, and full of information highly relevant to making reps skills. Do role-playing. Review and discuss a new perspec-better at both extracting and sharing information that can tive, blog post or article you found. Training and learninghelp the entire organization accelerate sales, customer and is an everyday thing for the best salespeople in the world.revenue growth. Institutionalize this in your organization more frequentlyHere are the six elements that, combined, make for a pow- than you do it today.erful regular sales team meeting. 5. Deal Drill-Down1. Metrics Choose someone on the team to walk through a currentThis is where you start. An empirical, objective, numbers- or recent deal. This can either be a recently closed dealbased look at current performance and what’s left to and how it happened, or it can be a deal that’s stalled (andachieve. This is cause for celebration and alarm (often with how/why it got there). The former allows an opportu-the same dashboard), and will set the tone for the rest of the nity for your team to learn best practices from others inmeeting. There shouldn’t be any surprises here, but it can context, and the latter allows the team to help each otherdrive urgency and focus in both the hour and days ahead. break through roadblocks and move deals forward.2. Recognition 6. MotivationTake the time to recognize great performances across the End each meeting on a positive note. This is differentteam. It can be something as big as a huge new enterprise and separate from individual recognition. This is aboutdeal, or as small as the new guy’s first successful appoint- firing up your team to burst out of the conference roomment. No matter how difficult your market or month is and back on the phones or into the field. How great salesthere’s always something to celebrate. managers do this is personal (a video clip, a joke, a motiva- tional quote, etc.), but we know sales is an emotional job.3. Voice Of The Customer Play to that and send your troops back out to victory.We’re not selling in a vacuum. At each meeting, the cus- What have I missed in this list? What are essential elementstomer should be heard. This can be an overview of new you have used or experienced in great sales meetings?research, feedback from a recent customer briefing, reviewof new market trends or analyst data, or even a quick pre-sentation or interview (live or recorded) with an actual cus-tomer. No matter how you present it, ensure the customerhas a place at the sales meeting table on a regular basis. 8
  9. 9. Six Ways To Get Your Sales Reps Back Above QuotaIn any given month, nearly every sales organization has what we’re doing wrong, but someone else (who isn’tsomeone under quota. Sales is a difficult job, and even the living it minute-to-minute) can often spot these thingsbest reps have bad months or quarters. But if you have a quickly—especially when they’re filling a similar role nextrep in a prolonged slump, here are six things you can do to to get them back on track and above quota. 5. Deal Walkthroughs1. Focus On The Numbers Take a particular opportunity in the slumping rep’s pipe-Start with a bottoms-up review of their pipeline, and be as line and walk through it in detail. Where did it come from,empirical as you can. Start with closed business, work back what are the prospect’s needs, how are they qualified, whatthrough pending opportunities, and continue to get more are the next steps or roadblocks to moving forward. Some-granular and tactical until you find a specific area for deep times this level of detail can help identify something thatdive and improvement. can not only kick start that particular opportunity, but give the rep the confidence and momentum they need to push2. Focus On What They Can Control back up to their normal performance levels.It’s not productive to complain about lead volume, leadquality, market conditions, outdated collateral, or any of 6. Evaluate Efforts, Attitude And Drivea myriad things outside of your and the rep’s control. Great salespeople go through slumps. But there’s a differ-Instead, focus on what they can control, starting immedi- ence between someone who’s giving it everything they’veately and every day. Activity volume, outbound calls, crisp- got and those who are mailing it in. Look for signs thatness of presentation, lead follow-up, etc. your reps might have a decline in motivation, initiative or passion for what they’re doing. The source of this could3. Compare Current And Previous Habits be inside or outside the organization, but either way it’sAnd Performance Measures affecting their performance. Help identify and resolve anyAthletes in a slump review video of themselves when they issues as best you can (without crossing any HR lines, ofwere “in a zone” to identify what they were doing particu- course).larly well (and may have stopped doing or adjusted sincethen). Salespeople can do the same thing, and you as a 7. Use Positive Reinforcement And Constructive Feedbackmanager can help them. Look at their performance habits If a slumping rep isn’t trying hard and isn’t responding towhen they were at the top of their game. Not just funnel the above steps, they might be on their way out the door.metrics but attendance records, follow-up rates, presenta- In every other case, they feel awful about their numbers.tion close rates, etc. Figure out the right mix of measures They know the organization isn’t happy with them, andfor your business and sales floor, and look for what’s they’re equally unhappy with the paychecks they’re takingchanged. home. Have some sympathy and empathy for these indi- viduals, and make it clear that you’re equally committed to4. Peer Shadowing helping get them back on track.Have a trusted colleague shadow the rep for an hour orso—watch their activity, listen to their calls, sit in on a newpresentation. It’s often difficult to pinpoint on our own 9
  10. 10. Eight More Ways To Get Sales Reps Back Above QuotaWe had a lively discussion on the topic at the American 5. Go Back To Basics (Attitude, Focus, Activity And Skills)Association for Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) Seattle Josh Hartnett from Datasphere talks often about the fourchapter meeting recently. Below are eight best practices basics of sales performance (especially for inside sales):that came out of that meeting. Attitude, Focus, Activity and Skills. When his reps show1. Create A Friendly (But Spirited) Competition declining numbers, he focuses on these specific and fun-Between Reps damental skills and often finds at least a couple things that can adjust to get the rep back on track.Salespeople are competitive by nature. They want to win.Put them into a friendly competition against each other for 6. Watch The Video Tape (Be Like Pujols)daily, weekly or monthly sales activity. One of my favorite Earlier this baseball season, baseball’s best player wasn’ttimes to do this is March, when a March Madness-style hitting very well. He wasn’t sure why. To help get back ontournament can really get the competitive juices flowing. track, Albert Pujols watched videotape of himself when he2. Make Sure Your Comp Plan Requires was on a hitting streak the previous season. By watchingConsistent Performance tape of himself during a period of peak performance, he was able to identify a couple technical issues with his cur-Does your commission plan make it easy for reps to coast rent swing. After a couple days, he was back on track. Thisafter a solid month? How could you restructure the plan to works for sales professionals too. Create and keep record-ensure consistent performance is rewarded? For example, ings of some of your reps’ best work, and play them againcan reps sustain some kind of commission multiplier if they when they’re underperforming to rediscover what works.stay above quota month after month? 7. Put Them On A Plan3. Check For Personal Issues A performance plan doesn’t mean a rep is about to loseTread lightly here, but oftentimes sales performance has his or her job. It simply means their recent performance isnothing to do with the market, their pipelines, or even sub-standard, and outlines specific steps the rep is expectedtheir sales skills. Sometimes your rep may be distracted by to take to get back on track. Use this step wisely with repssomething well outside of the office. This can be compli- that need a little extra motivation, or need to know you’recated to uncover and even more difficult to address. But very serious about getting their numbers back abovesimply isolating an outside variable, as a cause for poor quota.performance, can be a good starting point. 8. Did You Add Too Much Process?4. Create A Longer-Period ContestContingent On Quota Hitting If multiple reps across your team record declining perfor- mance at the same time, look for systematic reasons. If youMost sales contests are contained within a specific selling implemented a new CRM system, for example, there mayperiod (week, month or quarter), but there’s no reason be a learning curve that takes away valuable selling can’t have a bigger prize contingent on maintaining Look for other process or bureaucratic symptoms that mayor exceeding quota for multiple selling periods. Make the be taking reps away from critical selling activities.prize commensurate with the performance to keep yourreps motivated and focused. 10
  11. 11. Your Sales Reps Need Bigger ToysSome of your best inside sales reps might need more of spending their commission. Only when the moneymotivation. I’m not talking about training or comp plan started to run out did they get serious and start killingchanges or pep talks. I’m talking about organic, intrinsic their quota again.motivation to sell more and make more money. Whether you’re working with a younger inside sales teamFor many sales professionals, this isn’t an issue. They have or a more diverse group, outside motivation, goals andbills to pay, families to support, retirement accounts to dreams are important. The more you help your team envi-fund. They’re motivated to earn as much commission each sion the life they could lead, the toys they could buy, thesales period as possible. more hungry they’ll be to earn the dollars to get it.For others, especially younger reps, the motivation may Even those young reps might not be thinking (yet) aboutbe different. I’ve seen brilliant but young inside sales reps buying a house. Or a boat. Or a newer car. But maybehave a fantastic month, earn a ton of money, and then they should. What if you helped them think bigger, andmail it in for the next two months. It’s not because they put photos of those investments in their office or cube ascouldn’t find and close prospects in those subsequent 60 they work?days. It’s because they didn’t need the money. Whether those investments are serious or superficial,They had what they needed to pay their rent, fund their it doesn’t really matter. Motivation takes a whole lottalifestyle and do what they wanted beyond that first month shapes.Five Focus Areas For Inside Sales Improvement This YearThe folks at Focus wondered what inside sales managers 3. Diagnostic Sellingwill do this year to improve sales and revenue results from Inside sales should be asking questions that the prospecttheir organizations. Here’s my quick take on five specific hasn’t thought to ask, hasn’t been able to answer, andareas inside sales managers should focus on this year: hasn’t yet quantified—questions that increase the quantifi-1. Qualification able understanding of the problem and increase the ur- gency with which the customer wants a solution to deliverHow well and how quickly can you determine if your their desired outcome.prospect is qualified and ready to buy? Inside sales teamsthis year need to become far smarter about asking the right 4. Marketing Automationquestions up front, understanding the priorities and orga- Inside sales managers need to mandate that their market-nizational dynamics of their prospects, to quickly separate ing teams actively and dynamically manage the bulk ofthose who represent near-term sales opportunities from their qualified-but-not-ready-to-buy pipeline of leads. Thisthose who need further nurturing. means understanding exactly where in the decision and2. Operational Efficiency buying cycle each prospect is, and providing them with content and calls to action appropriate to that stage.Inside sales managers need to help their teams eliminatedistractions, reduce manual steps that take time away from 5. Metricsthe phone, and automate tasks that take up too much of Know what to measure, narrow the list of metrics youthe rep’s day today. This includes everything from CRM manage daily to a small number, and prioritize those mea-updates to email/communication templates to how the sures based on proximity to a revenue event. Every stepphone is dialed. of the lead creation, development and conversion process needs to be understood, reviewed and optimized more dynamically. 11
  12. 12. How To Get “Lost” Prospects To Re-EngageJill Konrath, in addition to writing highly-recommended Because many people aren’t comfortable telling you “no”books, publishes a regular newsletter that’s become one over the phone or in person, this approach gives theof my favorites. Recently, she featured an article by Eric prospect a way out of the situation, and you can move on.Slife with best practices on getting dormant prospects to Often, you find they have been slammed or you get somere-engage. additional information as to why the delay.With permission, here’s Eric’s piece from Jill’s newsletter: 3. Disengage Caller IDGetting Prospects Re-Engaged Call your phone company and ask how to disengage yourBy Eric Slife caller ID. This way your prospect can no longer screenYou finish your presentation, and your prospect states, your calls.“Everything looks great. I’ll call you in a couple of days to 4. Did I Do Something Wrong?move forward.” Several days pass, a week, then a month.They don’t return you calls, and you have no idea why. You might leave a message for your prospect that says,Sound familiar? “Mr. or Miss Prospect you asked me to follow up on…I’m not sure what’s more frustrating; not getting the I’ve tried to reach out several times, but I never heardbusiness, or not knowing why. Here are some easy tips to back from you. Did I do something that offended or upsetreconnect with your prospect. you?”1. Establish Guidelines 5. Copy Referrer On EmailAt the very outset, establish guidelines for the relationship If another individual referred you, copy them on youryou are about to enter. email. This is especially useful if a superior referred you. Don’t throw your contact under the bus, but apply a little“Mr. or Miss Prospect, thanks for agreeing to meet with today. I have some questions I’d like to ask you today,and I’m sure you probably have some questions you want 6. Discard Proposalsto ask me. Before we get started, I just want you to know, Finally, always be willing to walk away. I want to do busi-it’s okay to tell me “No.” ness with adults, not children. If someone requests to callSometimes, a client chooses to go a different direction, but them back, but then never returns my calls or email whenthey feel uncomfortable telling me. If at any point while I’m following their directions, those aren’t the customersworking together, you determine my product or service I’m looking for. However, I’ll provide one final opportunity.isn’t the right fit, will you please let me know? “Mr. or Miss Prospect, you requested I contact you on…2. Voicemail with Email I’ve tried several times, but I never heard back from you. The price (or proposal) was good for 30 days, so unfortu-I don’t expect people to return my voicemail. However, nately I have to discard your file.”within my voicemail, I’ll inform them I’m sending anemail, because for many busy individuals it’s easier to re- Put a time limit on all your proposals. This creates a sensespond. In my email I will write, of urgency, and it doesn’t lock you into a price for an ex- tended period of time.“Mr. or Miss Prospect, upon our last discussion, yourequested I follow up with you at this date and time re- About The Authorgarding… I’ve tried several times to call you, but unfortu- Eric Slife is President of Sales Training Central. From coldnately, we haven’t been able to connect. I’m beginning to calling to closing, they provide comprehensive, affordablefeel like I’m becoming a pest. Please let me know if your online sales training and sales management programs thatsituation has changed, so I know how and when to best can be customized for both individuals and sales teams.follow up.“ 12
  13. 13. Six Priorities To Remember As Your Sales Team GrowsGuest post by Juli Bacon, president, JB Consulting Systems you will quickly erode trust with your customers and loseIf your organization is heavily reliant on your sales depart- market share. Good sales reps will not stay with a companyment, then here are a few things to keep in mind as you that cannot respond to the sales they bring in.grow your sales staff. Put A Lot Of Thought And PlanningYour Sales Team Needs Training Just Like Anyone Else Into Your Compensation PlanBring in an outside sales and marketing specialist to pro- As you grow you might be tempted to tweak the commis-vide new and innovative ways to generate and close leads. sion structure or go from base plus commission to drawWhen you roll out a new product or service, have your plus commission. The more changes you make after youexperts give a presentation to the sales staff during your hire your sales reps the more distrust there will be betweenweekly sales meeting to educate them about the new product. you and them. I have seen owners change the compen-Provide one-page handouts with key information, statistics or sation structure because they think their sales reps areselling points for them to review and take with them. making too much money. You need your sales reps to stay motivated to sell. Clearly outline the expectations for sell-Your Top Sales Representative Is Likely ing and the compensation structure. Are you requiring aNot Going To Be A Good Sales Manager certain number of contacts per week, month or quarter, do you require a certain sales amount before the commissionAs your sales staff grows, you may be tempted to take percent kicks in, are you going to provide a base salary plusyour top sales rep and promote them to sales manager. commission or a draw against the commission? What hap-This is often a huge mistake. 1) Because you are going to pens if the sales rep quits or is fired? Do they need to signlose your top sales rep and 2) Because sales reps and sales a Non-Disclosure/Solicitation Agreement? These thingsmanagers are motivated by different things and have dif- need to be determined. It helps if you bring in an outsideferent skills. A good sales manager must be able to manage party or coordinate with your Human Resources depart-others, provide constructive performance feedback and ment if you have one.monitor the overall sales. They are motivated by how wellthe department does which means they are more likely to Make Sure Your Sales Reps Knowencourage and inspire their team to sell more. How To Qualify Their ProspectsHire A Good Sales Assistant This goes back to the sales training. Not every lead is going to be a sale. Your sales reps need to know how toIf you have more than one or two sales reps, you should quickly figure out if the lead is a sale or a contact thatlook at hiring an assistant to process paperwork, follow wants general information. There is a place for both inup loose ends and help the sales reps stay organized. This your organization, but qualifying the lead and moving it toperson does not run for coffee or do personal errands for the right department will keep your sales reps selling. Onceyour sales reps; this person makes sure that once the sale they qualify the lead, you might want to have a person oris closed, the paperwork is in order so your company can department designated as the follow up for leads that aredeliver as promised. not ready to buy now. If they aren’t ready to buy now,Be Prepared For More Sales perhaps they want to stay informed about your company; maybe you need to follow up at a later date. You need aThe worst thing you can do to your sales staff is send them system to track and stay in contact with those who aren’tout to sell and then not deliver on the back end. Be sure ready to buy now. A good sales and marketing specialistthat your systems are in place so you can respond when can help you figure out the best strategy to use.the sales reps do their job. If you can’t deliver as promised, 13
  14. 14. More Information About UsAbout Matt Heinz 8201 164th Ave. NE, Suite 200Matt Heinz is the Founder and President of Heinz Marketing Inc. Matt brings more Redmond WA 98052 Ph. 877.291.0006than 12 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of www.heinzmarketing.comorganizations, vertical industries and company sizes. His career has focused on deliver-ing measurable results for his employers and clients in the way of greater sales, revenuegrowth, product success and customer loyalty.About Heinz MarketingHeinz Marketing is a Seattle marketing agency focused on sales acceleration. HeinzMarketing helps clients achieve sustained sales success by growing revenue from existingcustomers and cost effectively identifying and winning new customers.Contact Heinz MarketingHeinz Marketing Inc.8201 164th Ave NE, Suite 200Redmond, WA 98052877.291.0006www.heinzmarketing.comacceleration@heinzmarketing.comLearn More About Heinz MarketingInterested in learning more creative ways to make the most of your marketing?:Request your FREE 10-minute brainstorm at www.10minutebrainstorm.comJoin our newsletter:www.heinzmarketinginsights.comCheck out our blog: www.mattonmarketingblog.comFollow Matt on Twitter: 14