I’ve spoken with so many company leaders who view a potential investment in marketing the same as a potential investment in hiring more reps.
They view the growth potential as equal – hire more reps to grow, or invest in marketing to grow.
In reality, it’s not one or the other. You must invest in building a scalable marketing machine that produces a predictable number of leads and sales opportunities every single month.
While you should have the right number of sales reps to handle those leads and sales opportunities, that doesn’t mean you need to hire more reps to do more revenue.
Here is the 2022 playbook for doing more revenue with fewer sales reps.
Every sales organization has a handful of underperformers. That means you also have a handful of overachievers. So, it’s not crazy to see that the top performers are carrying the underperformers.
This means there are opportunities to do things differently in 2022.
The basis for this plan is to make your sales team more efficient next year. This means you won’t have to hire more sales reps if you want to grow revenue. You might even be able to do more revenue with fewer sales reps.
What this will require is a change in mindset. What worked for you over the past few years isn’t helping you get to the next level. This means you’ll have to do a few things differently.
The next six steps are going to help you move from what got you here to what will get you to where you’re trying to go. Your job as CEO or sales leader is to show your team the way, get them to change their behavior and reward them accordingly.
The first move is going to be tough. You should reassign (or let go) the bottom-performing reps. It’s been 12 months; they’ve had the time they need to hit their goals. Next year isn’t going to be better.
Stack rank the reps based on quota attainment. Let the bottom one or two move on to other roles in the organization, if possible. If you have more than 20 reps, you might want to consider moving the bottom 10 percent.
This isn’t uncommon for sales organizations. Many sales organizations work like this. Sales reps are accustomed to situations like this and shouldn’t be surprised. The sales role, by definition, is one that must perform at or above expectations month over month.
By making a move like this, you’ll actually be motivating the other sales reps and providing them with more opportunities to improve their own performance.
Initially, it might seem like a tough call, but you’ll thank me for it in a couple of months. By the way, I’m not suggesting firing anyone, just reassigning them to better seats on your bus, especially if they continue to be cultural fits for your organization.
Now that you saved some money in the sales department, redeploy that into marketing. This redeployment should result in more leads and more sales opportunities for the remaining reps.
If you execute the marketing correctly, it should produce better, more qualified leads as well.
Here are a few of the areas we typically see lacking in companies that are highly dependent on sales to carry the revenue load.
Your website could probably use an upgrade. Make sure the experience on your site is better than all your competitors, the site is optimized for the search engines and your site has the right pages for the right people in the right industries, so when they visit your site, they feel at home.
Next, consider investing in more educational content that can be used on your website and content that your sales team can leverage. This content should be created for prospects who are in each stage of the buyer journey. Content for people early in their buyer journey is different than content for people in the later stages of their buyer journey.
Also, video needs to be a big part of your content strategy. This includes video for your website and video for your sales team.
Finally, consider running more email marketing campaigns for both prospects and current customers. Make these campaigns as personal as possible. Combine these email campaigns with paid social and paid search campaigns. Use the same messaging for all three channels to create well-orchestrated efforts that produce better results than single-channel campaigns.
Now you have a number of marketing activities all running simultaneously to produce more leads and sales opportunities for your sales team.
Now that you have the right number of reps, let’s work on making these reps highly efficient.
First, all prospects are NOT created equally. Therefore, not all rep follow-up and time invested in prospects should be deployed equally. The sooner you can install a way to help reps prioritize their activities, the faster they’ll be more efficient.
One way is lead scoring. By using each prospect’s own behavior to help reps quantify the opportunity, your reps can make better decisions around who gets their attention and when.
Here’s an example to illustrate the point.
Prospect A is the perfect-size company and you’re talking to the perfect person inside the company.
Prospect B is a little small and you still need to identify power.
It might look like prospect A is better than prospect B, but what you don’t know is that prospect B has been all over your website, downloaded three of your e-books and watched two of your videos. In fact, they are on your website right now looking around. They’ve even visited your pricing page twice.
Prospect A has been to your website once, two weeks ago, and hasn’t been back since.
This insight would indicate that perhaps prospect B has more acute pain and is engaging in an accelerated buyer journey. By getting a rep to work with prospect B immediately, you might have a chance to close prospect B way before you can close prospect A.
Lead scoring would have uncovered this quantitatively. Your sales reps would have seen a higher score on prospect B and could have deployed faster and more aggressively to get that deal done.
That’s how you help reps be more efficient.
Here’s another example of a way to make reps more efficient.
Reps send emails all day long every day. They tell the same stories all day every day. They answer the same questions all day every day.
By arming them with email templates, videos and content that answer prospects’ questions, you can drive a lot of efficiencies. Now reps are simply personalizing an email, which might take a few minutes as opposed to 30 minutes to write those from scratch.
By providing reps with content that they can use in context to the prospects’ questions or concerns, sales reps can quickly respond, move the buying cycle forward effectively and, more importantly, look incredibly responsive to your prospects.
Technology makes both lead scoring and templates easy to deliver, easy to optimize and easy for reps to access.
To do more revenue with the same number of reps or even fewer reps, you’re going to need data to uncover where your sales process might be less efficient.
You’re going to want to look at the overall sales process metrics like sales cycle and close rate, but I’d also suggest you look at this on a rep level.
By looking at your sales process on a rep level, you will uncover reps who need help at different stages in the sales process.
I’d recommend you look at each stage of the sales process and the conversion rates at each stage. How effective are your reps at qualifying new sales-qualified leads? How effective are they at moving opportunities through your sales process? How effective are they at co-creating the recommendations?
This is something the person responsible for sales operations should be accountable for doing, and if you don’t have this role at your company, consider bringing in an agency with sales operations expertise to help you uncover these insights and create the action plans to work on further optimizing your sales execution.
What used to be 100% art is now almost 100% science. Sales has evolved into a data-driven practice, and the best way to get data is to apply technology to how you execute sales.
Here’s a great example.
Want to know what your reps are doing?
You should be able to drill down into the effectiveness of their individual communication by looking at the emails they send as well as the video sessions and the phone conversations they have with prospects. Gong records every conversation and applies artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover the information buried in all those conversations.
CRMs track open rates, click-through rates and interest in specific content or topics. You can drill down on each of your reps and help coach them to perform at their best, driving efficiency across the entire sales team.
Today, a number of technology options help drive efficiency across the sales team. By investing in those tools, you can do more sales with the same number of reps and, in many cases, more sales with the same number of reps.
Growth doesn’t equal hiring more salespeople.
Finally, businesses are made up of people. People require regular rhythms to function. We go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. We eat meals at generally the same time.
Rhythms within your business are equally important.
It might make sense to huddle with the sales team every morning for 15 minutes. This gives you a chance to find out what happened yesterday, what they’re working on today and if they have any obstacles in their way.
In some cases, these huddles might be better if they were one-on-one meetings. Especially for reps who are new or reps who are struggling, giving them this time will fast-track their recovery or their onboarding.
Meet with the team regularly. Weekly meetings with the entire revenue team – marketing, sales and customer service – allows everyone to get on the same page and for all three groups to share their progress, plans and obstacles.
While this might seem inefficient if you’ve never used this approach, giving people regular access helps them better focus their attention. They save items for these sessions and then spend the rest of their day being highly efficient executing on the agreed-upon action items.
I hope this doesn’t sound like you need to completely scrap what you’re doing and start all over again. While these recommendations might seem extreme, they’re not. You could accomplish everything in this playbook in 30 days with no problem.
The result is going to be a streamlined sales team, a highly efficient sales process and sales technology that uncovers the insights you need to keep optimizing your sales process month over month.
This is going to help you hit your sales targets every month in 2022, as opposed to some of the months in 2021.