Do They Make Calls, Go On Appointments Or Install Technology? Who Knows?
It used to be a little bit clearer. Marketing agencies did marketing work and sales consulting firms did sales consulting work. There are probably 100 times the number of marketing agencies when compared to sales consulting firms. A lot of the sales consultants were single-person shops with former sales execs happy to help smaller companies learn from their experiences.
Today, as with everything in the agency world, it is much more complicated. If you’re looking for help closing new customers, shortening the sales process or hitting your revenue goals more consistently, a lot more options exist. The agency that built your website might be happy to install a new CRM system and show you how to use it. Your content marketing shop might be thrilled to show you how to use content to provide an upgraded sales experience. But is that your best option?
Step one is to understand what sales enablement, sales execution, sales consulting and inbound sales can do for your company. Step two is to understand what a sales expert does and how that can help your firm turn sales opportunities and leads into more new business.
What Is Sales Enablement? What Is Sales Execution? What Is Inbound Sales?
The short answer is that sales enablement is the process of providing your sales team with the tools, techniques and processes to improve their performance. Typically, that means closing more, closing faster and closing for higher dollars.
Regardless of the definition, you should be aware that the old days of cold calling and aggressive “always be closing” sales techniques no longer match up with how people want to buy. It’s critical that you match your sales process with how people want to buy today. By aligning these two processes, you get better traction with your prospects. They know, like and trust you faster, which gets them to feel safe with the purchase decision. As long as you help them rationalize the purchase, you get a deal.
But if you continue to push them or add friction to their buyer journey because you and your sales team want to control the process, they’ll respond with that defensive posture you feel when a salesperson approaches you in the store and you respond with, “I’m just browsing; get away from me.” The part of the brain that controls the “buy button” is the same part of the brain that controls flight or fight. Don’t trigger it.
Do You Need Sales Help?
Most companies don’t think they do, so how do you really know? It’s a little easier than you might think. Do you have a documented sales process? If not, you need one, and someone with experience building a strategically designed, buyer-centric sales process can drive serious value at your company. A revamped sales process can increase conversion rates all throughout the process and reduce your sales cycle by weeks.
Do you have sales reps missing their targets? If so, you need to assess your reps. Can they do the job? You might be setting overly aggressive targets, so you need to look at your target-setting methodology, too. What about a process for removing reps who habitually miss their targets? This might seem rough, but there is no reason to keep reps who miss targets month after month. This might not mean firing them from the company but rather moving them into roles where they are better suited for success.
Does it seem like your people are stepping all over each other? Are they asking prospects the same questions or sending them the same content? This could be a process challenge, but it could also be a technology challenge. If you want to know who did what and when to what prospect, you should be able to log into your CRM and see an active and detailed record around every touch, call and click for that prospect.
These are some obvious red flags that you need help, but the biggest is that you just can’t consistently hit your revenue goals month in and month out. If that’s the case, you need help.
What Should You Expect From A Sales Expert?
You’ll find a wide variety of sales experts. Some do rep-to-rep coaching. Some provide temporary sales leadership support. others do training on specific sales techniques and still others provide consulting around some of the areas we discussed above. Sales experts come in almost every shape and size.
The key to answering this question productively is understanding what you want and what you expect, and then clearly communicating that to your sales expert and getting a written agreement that what you want is what they plan to deliver.
Here is a slightly different but more progressive take on this: What you should be asking for is results. Results are quantitative and can easily be measured. If your close rate on proposals is 50%, you should be working with your sales enablement consultant to get that number to 80% or higher. If your sales cycle is 60 days, you should be working with your sales enablement consultant to get that number to 45 days or even 30 days. Does it matter exactly what they do? A new proposal format doesn’t satisfy anything unless it produces faster and more frequent closes. You want results.
How Does Sales Technology Fit In?
Today, sales is asking about technology much more frequently. Would you ever consider running your business without some type of financial management software like QuickBooks? No! Likewise, you should never consider running your company without some type of CRM and marketing automation software.
Sales is too complicated today to run without software. Repeating tasks need to be automated. Data collection must be streamlined or eliminated altogether. Marketing and sales touches for every prospect should be visible to everyone when they need them. Information collected from prospects should be used to create better, more targeted stories and offerings. You just can’t be competitive without all of this.
The technology is also going to help you with the expectations questions from above. How do you know the sales cycle for your products and services? You can’t rely on guessing anymore. You must look in the software, get that data out and then use the data to benchmark your performance and work to improve it over time.
CRM and marketing automation are no longer optional. Today, they are mandatory pieces of software for running your business, just like QuickBooks or your financial management suite.
Metrics, Data And Numbers For Sales
Everyone says sales is a numbers game, but most companies don’t use data, metrics and numbers enough. Today, metrics and sales is way more than numbers of new customers, revenue each month and percentage of quota.
You can be looking at the length of your sales cycle by stage and actively reducing the longest stages. You can be looking at pipeline value and pipeline velocity.
You can be looking at metrics by rep, territory, product line or service line and division. You should be looking at the effectiveness of tools all throughout the sales process. Which email templates move prospects to act? Which content items move prospects to the next stage in the buyer journey? Which of the two proposal formats you’re testing drives a higher close rate? Which advocacy program limits the amount of references required?
All of these micro metrics are key to continually optimizing the performance of your sales team, and without data on each of these elements, you are flying blind.
You may be wondering, why even consider getting help with sales? Sales is sales, and it’s been about people and relationships for hundreds of years. You don’t need help with this, right? Just get more leads and you’ll be fine. If this sounds like you or anyone on your team, you’re way off.
Sales isn’t the same activity it was even 10 years ago. It requires an entirely different skill set, an entirely different playbook, and an entirely different set of tools and metrics. When delivered by the right partner, sales consulting provides your team with the guidance, training, tools, resources and thinking to make a dramatic impact on your top-line results.
This isn’t a workshop, LinkedIn training or cold-calling techniques. We are giving you access to the techniques that cut the sales cycle in half, increase close rates by 50% and drive up average revenue per new client. This is serious stuff.
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