How to improve the productivity of your sales force

How to Improve the Productivity of Your Sales Force

sales force

If you need to generate more sales, there are two ways to improve the overall productivity of your sales force.

  • Hire more reps
  • Increase output per rep

According to Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.com

Hiring more reps is the way to go; assuming that you have already created systems and process that have allowed your current reps to achieve the goals you’ve set for them, that is.

But what if your current sales force isn’t yet hitting their numbers? Could productivity be the issue?

In today’s post, I am going to address how to massively improve productivity in just one area: prospecting.

Prospecting (Manually) is a Huge Time Suck

Prospecting, the old fashioned way, takes a massive amount of time, therefore, if your reps adopt the proper technology tools to increase productivity, the payback can be very significant.

Take sales rep Rick, for example. Rick is a prospecting machine, or so he thinks. He spends his day making cold calls and manually sending cold emails.cold calling

Rick’s manager expect him to make 100 dials a day and that is exactly what he does. Rick is busy, but given that he spends the vast majority of his day leaving voicemails for total strangers; Rick isn’t terribly productive.

To help improve his results, Rick also sends a lot of emails. For every email, Rick has to guess at the email address (or call the company to ask for it), type up the email and then click the send button.

While personalized, Rick’s approach to cold email is also very time-consuming.

In the old days, Rick would have probably been one of the rock stars on his team. Today, he’s struggling to keep up with reps like his co-worker Dave.

Prospecting Power Boosters

Dave is a young sales rep and is very comfortable with technology. Dave also relies heavily on content to support his prospecting efforts.

As you’ll see, Dave’s method of prospecting is vastly different than Rick’s approach.

Unlike Rick, Dave doesn’t make any cold calls. Instead, Dave has a very focused list of 100 target accounts that he’s thoroughly researched to ensure that they would be an ideal fit for what he’s selling. By focusing on a finite list, Dave ensures that he’s touching each person on his list at least 6 times before giving up.

To build his list, Dave did his research using the search tools available with a LinkedIn premium account. Thanks to LinkedIn, Dave also knows who all the key players are at each company.

Once he has an email address, Dave uses a tool called Quickmail to put his email prospecting on auto-pilot.

Unlike traditional email marketing tools, Quickmail is not an auto-responder. Instead, Quickmail is a tool that allows you to preschedule a series of emails that will send right from your company’s Gmail account.

Using Quickmail, Dave creates a sequence of 6 emails that will go out one per week over the next six weeks. (you can choose whatever interval you like). As soon as a prospect replies to Dave, Quickmail stops sending the remainder of the six emails that he created as part of the sequence.

As you can probably see, the primary benefit of using Quickmail is that it allows you to take a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to your email prospecting.

Mix Selling and Helping

As soon as one of Dave’s prospects has replied, he has succeeded in getting their attention and now shifts into ‘helpful mode’.

Unlike Rick, Dave’s goal is to get the attention of his prospects by asking questions and attempting to be helpful. This is where his content comes into play. (Dave’s company has an active blog that he can draw on for content)

When he first reaches out, Dave isn’t trying to sell anything. Instead, he’s focused on inviting his prospects to join a LinkedIn group that he created.

This is actually the exact approach that I use and here’s what I say in the first email:

Subject: CMO Roundtable

Hi {{firstname}},

I am reaching out to invite you to become a part of a group of {name of niche} executives who are all dedicated to creating fast growing, highly profitable companies.

I have created a video that is 1 min 23 seconds long to explain what this group is all about. You can watch it here: [link to page with video].

I look forward to having you join our group.

Trent Dyrsmid

As you might guess, by taking a helping approach from the start, instead of a selling approach, Dave is hugely differentiating himself from reps like Rick.

Using Quickmail, Dave created a sequence that sends this message, plus two reminder invitations. If his prospects reply, the sequence stops.

If they don’t reply, emails 4, 5, & 6 all ask questions and contain links to content that was written specifically for the type of people that are on his list of target accounts. If Dave hasn’t managed to get a reply by the 6th message, he removes them from his list of target accounts and replaces them with a new prospect.

Make Warm Calls to Increase Results

Like Rick, Dave also uses the phone as part of his prospecting; however, rather than making 100 cold dials a day, Dave uses the phone to follow up with the people that he’s already been communicating with via email.

If Dave’s emails were all just solicitation emails, then his follow up attempts on the phone wouldn’t likely work very well. However, as Dave focuses on helping and sharing content, more of his emails are being read, and so when he does pick up the phone, his prospect very likely already know who he is. (this is exactly what happens for me)

When he does get a prospect on the phone, instead of focusing on selling, he focuses on building a relationship by talking about the benefits of joining the LinkedIn group, or by talking about some of the content that he’s already sent to his prospect.

Unlike Rick, Dave doesn’t try too hard to “sell” anything on the first call. The only thing he’s “selling” is the fact that he’s a helpful resource.

IF, it turns out that Dave’s prospect has some pain that he thinks he might be able to solve, Dave asks his prospect if he’d like to schedule another call to talk more in detail about the problem. By the end of this second call, Dave has created enough trust to allow him to start asking his prospect if they might like to try/buy what he’s got for sale.

Lessons Learned

While pure cold calls used to work, they don’t have a place in business today. Thanks to blogs and social media, sales reps don’t have an excuse not to know anything about their prospects and the companies they work for.

To be successful in getting someone’s attention today, you need to reach out to them via a variety of channels (email, blog comments, social media, phone) and focus initially on providing instant value to your prospect. You also need to be persistent.

When you take the helping first approach to prospecting, combined with some of the productivity tools mentioned in this post, both your results and how much you enjoy prospecting for new business will both drastically improve.

So, what are you waiting for? Go make it happen!

Leveraging_LinkedIn

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