In this article we break down why we feel so passionately that a sales professional should not spend time finding or reaching leads at the top of the sales funnel.
What is the role of a sales professional?
Well that’s easy: to sell. That means they are performing selling activities with professionalism for at the least the majority of their day. So that we’re on the same page, here’s a list of tasks we consider “selling activities”:
- Earning conversations by emailing, calling, and direct messaging on social platforms
- Holding conversations in any of the above channels
- Holding discovery calls, demos, and check-in calls
- Preparing for presentations by gathering recent intelligence on the prospect’s needs
- Preparing and sending follow up communication to buyers
Notice how often conversations appear in our list? That’s at the heart of selling. Unfortunately it’s not so easy these days. Sales reps are tasked with an ever increasing number of non-sales activities. Things like…
- Attending a ludicrous number of internal meetings
- Hunting through years old CRM data to find prospects to call on
- Learning the ins and outs of complex databases in order to build as good of a prospecting list as they can (typically with little to no guidance)
- Entering information into the CRM
We always felt this was a challenge for reps just from our own experience, but we were unaware of how global the problem. That is, until the Salesforce 2019 State of Sales report came out with these two data points:
- Reps spend just 34% of their time selling
- 57% of reps surveyed expected to miss quota
When we saw this data, we knew we weren’t alone.
So how do we get sales reps back to reppin’?
If you dig into the Salesforce report, you’ll see that there’s a pretty even distribution of non-sales activities getting in the way of rep productivity. We’ve got to take a multi-pronged approach, focused on those things we can control.
- Require an agenda for every meeting (no exceptions) and stick to it.
- Rotate who needs to attend interdepartmental meetings.
- Consolidate weekly meetings into twice monthly (extend by a few minutes if this leave more to catch up on).
- Send reports to all participants ahead of the meeting and ask them to review in advance so you can cut meeting time down.
- Test new meeting types like a daily hype video via Slack in place of a daily standup.
Manual data entry
- If you can adopt a tool like Outreach, Salesloft, or the many others out there that automatically capture and log activity, just make sure they provide thorough onboarding assistance including best practices. Reps often think they have to log emails, update information, and manually complete activities that their sales tools can do automatically.
- If your team has to perform manual data entry, make sure they're batching those activities and not stopping process-oriented work to complete little tasks like updating CRM.
- Sales teams operating under a defined process and prioritization key (like Lead Status or Lead Score) are going to save significant time that others are wasting just trying to figure out which leads to work.
- Tools like Salesforce have saved filters called List Views or Smart Views, allowing you to automatically identify top priority leads, generating more selling time.
So much more
If you had your sales team write down everything they did today, you'd see that just like Salesforce's report says, they spent a lot of time not selling.
Since just 42% of sales reps expect to meet quota, and reps are spending just 34% of their day selling, imagine the impact of getting the entire team to even 50% total selling time per day with incremental improvements.
More reps hitting quota. Current quota-crushers exceeding quota or meeting it with less stress. That's a happier, well paid workforce who wants to stick around for the long haul instead of hopping from company to company for a 5% bump in base salary.
Unless your sales team is swimming in inbound demo requests and RFPs, they're going to need to leverage data for outbound selling.
But now you know you don't want those reps wasting any selling time.
So what do you do?
Most common solution: Buy a big database
This is a great option if your target market is really big, really easy to find, and doesn't change jobs a lot. If that's not the case, you're going to deal with some challenges:
- You'll pay a hefty price for access to a lot of data you don't need.
- Your team still has to do the work of finding and exporting/importing the right leads.
- Data isn't verified in real time, so you'll have to deal with bad emails and generally outdated records (ask any sales rep who's used a database about a time when they called a lead only to find out the person died years before - it's way more common than you think).
Budget conscious solution: Buy a cheap plugin
This is effective if your reps are working a very small number of accounts and need to find buyers whose titles don't help in determining if they're an ideal target. Typically these plugins have very low costs per lead, but often struggling with the following:
- Only works if prospects are on LinkedIn
- Grabs only basic information with no way to expand
- For a high volume of leads, your team typically also needs to pay for a premium LinkedIn subscription
Best solution: Data on-demand service
With data on-demand, you're able to buy only the leads that your team needs, as they need them, at an affordable rate.
No need for other tools like LinkedIn premium, no wasted time getting sales reps to research contacts, and no paying for leads your team will never touch.
If you've got data that needs cleaning or enriching, we can handle that too.