In the US, the annual full cost of a B2B technology sales rep is around $380,000. That includes everything — base salary, variable compensation, overhead, travel and entertainment.
With that level of investment, you need to ensure your field reps are as productive as possible. It’s not merely a matter of hiring the best people and coaching them to succeed. It’s also important to support them in every way possible.
Here are seven ways you can empower your reps to be as productive as possible.
1. Align Sales and Marketing
The dictionary defines misalignment as “the incorrect arrangement or position of something in relation to something else.” Whether it’s a car’s wheels, your spine, or a sales and marketing organization that’s misaligned, the result is inefficiency.
For sales and marketing to march forward together in lockstep, you need them to have a shared strategy, common objectives and agreement on the lead management process.
2. Supercharge Your Sales Funnel with Lead Management
Creating a lead management process is essential for developing synchrony between the actions of sales and marketing associates.
A lead management system delineates how your company will acquire, nurture and handoff leads from marketing to sales. Central to moving sales and marketing onto the same page is defining leads. These definitions include marketing qualified leads (those worth the time and resources of the marketing associates) and sales qualified leads (those that are worth follow-up by your $380,000-a-year field salespeople). Once you have these critical definitions, you can set up rules for lead scoring and filtering to ensure your team focuses on the hottest leads with the most significant potential.
It’s equally important to define the data you will include with qualified leads when they are routed to field salespeople. You don’t want them to waste their time tracking down missing information.
3. Set Sales Appointments
If your field salespeople are establishing their own appointments with prospects, consider changing that. It’s better for them to spend their time in face-to-face meetings with decision makers.
For the most efficiency, have your inside sales team or an outsourced telemarketing agency do the hard work of making the calls and scheduling appointments. Inside reps can warm up prospects to ensure they are eager to learn more about your product or solution.
4. Win/Loss Analysis
In sales and marketing, we spend so much time looking to the future that sometimes we forget that there are lessons we can learn from the past. That’s what win/loss analysis is all about.
Many times you get right up to the finish line, but fail to cross it. Why? And what’s the difference between the “almost-won” sales and closed deals?
By answering these questions, you can discover what works and what fails. With these insights, you can develop a formula for success, whether it means tweaking a sales presentation, refining your definition of a sales qualified lead, changing your product or coaching your reps to shore up their sales skills.
5. Make the Most of Events
B2B companies spend a hefty chunk of their budgets on tradeshows and conferences. In their preparations, marketers become consumed with building an impressive booth, preparing literature and presentations as well as planning parties. One critical aspect of success, however, often becomes an afterthought — attracting the right people to the booth and setting up times for your field reps to meet with them.
So send invitations to prospects and customers who you want to meet up with. If you don’t receive responses, have telephone reps call them. Follow up with emails.
Your events are the golden opportunity to place salespeople in front of your target market. A little extra work can ensure you make the most of them.
6. Grab First-Mover Advantage
Don’t follow today’s conventions and wait until the buyer is 50 or 60 percent through the buying cycle to make contact. The rep who talks with a high-level decision maker first and assists them in solving a problem gains the inside track. That’s because buyers don’t always know what they need to resolve an issue. If your reps reach them before they’ve come to their conclusions, they can frame the solution in a way that fits with your product or service. Plus, they can develop a relationship.
Have phone salespeople make the first contact and warm up the buyers. Then, when the prospect is ready, introduce them to the field rep. If it works better, you might want to have an overlap or handover period when both reps are involved with the customer.
7. Embrace Technology
This should go without saying, but when it comes to productivity and results, technology is your friend. Marketing automation can help you produce well-qualified leads in an organized fashion.
Integrate marketing automation with a customer relationship management (CRM) system, and you’ll be able to better manage the relationship from lead acquisition through the sale.
There are, of course, many more sales technologies that can increase productivity and success.
Make the most of your investment in field sales by providing them with the support they need. Start by aligning sales and marketing and defining a lead management process. Assist them by setting up sales appointments at prospects’ offices and events. Use win/loss analysis to identify how best to tighten up your sales process and messaging. Employ inside reps to contact your target audience early and grab the first mover advantage. Finally, make the most of today’s technologies’ time-saving capabilities.