Questions

How can we maximize efforts of our sales team?

I am a sales and marketing professional, solely responsible for my company's online brand value creation by way of marketing our service offerings along with final closure of business deals i.e sales or revenue generation. In short, work as a CMO and sales guy. The company offers business intelligence consultancy to global clients in the form analytics and research services. Since I have been associated from day 1, when it was a start-up 4 years back, I command respect for whatever I have done all these years. Owing to little business success, management has decided to recruit couple of professionals based on my years of request to support my effort. I am thinking of recruiting the following: 1. Lead generation/business development 2. Content Specialist 3. SEO/adv professional.

7answers

Yay, a question with some details!

So the first thing I'd like you to think about is that despite "little business success" this business has somehow limped along for 4 years. How did that happen? Just enough cash coming in to get by? Loans? You need to find out how deep of a hole you're in, if any. That amount will have to go into your revenue target.

You need a revenue target. Perhaps you didn't mention it here because you want to keep it private. But you need that number. It has to cover all the salaries, infrastructure, marketing, taxes, and profit. Yes, profit! That has to go in there or you'll never get it.

If your goal is "as much money as I can get," you'll never get that, either. That target is a fool's errand. Set a specific target; achieve it, then raise it.

You really want to get a handle on your money equation. Once you've got that stable, then you can increase the flow.

From what you've shared it sounds like the odd lead comes in, you clamp down on it, and close one here and there.

You need consistency.

Here's the money equation to get that consistency:

Unqualified Leads >> Qualified Leads >> Sales.

We build this backwards, from the revenue you want. And I will share with you that the number one problem my clients uncover from this exercise is that they were beaten before they began: and they didn't even know it. They did not have enough leads coming in, nowhere near, to have a chance of hitting their revenue target.

So you take your revenue target and divide that by the average $ value of a sale. You can do this in a more fancy way if you like, forecasting by service type. But for now let's keep the ideas straightforward.

So you want $1M in revenue, your average sale is worth $100K: you know you need 10 sales to hit that money target.

What we're doing is building back into an ACTIVITY LEVEL, so you know what you need to be doing every day to get there. This is what you measure your staff by. Without knowing this activity level, you'll do a little here and a little there but no consistent effort. It'll be "as much as I can" and as we've seen that's no target at all.

So from your own experience as a decent closer you know your numbers. How many qualified leads (people who have need, budget, and personality fit to work with you) have you had to speak with to get one sale?

Let's say the salesperson is OK but not amazing, and neither is the marketing (yet!). They can close 20% of qualified prospects, so that's 1 in 5. Simple math takes us from 10 sales X 5 = 50 qualified prospects.

Over a year, that's more than 4 per month. Let's say, to ensure results, we make the target 5. So now you know: if your salespeople aren't getting 5 conversations with qualified leads every month, you're not going to make that money target.

Now we know that for every good lead, there are a bunch of bad ones to weed through. These are attracted by your marketing--trade publication ads, SEO to website, YouTube videos to website, white papers, Kindle reports, paid advertising, whatever method of connecting with your target market you can come up with. Each will have its own quality level. The ratio of Unqualified Leads to Qualified Leads will be different. But you can build your funnel from the activity and quality levels of each lead source.

Let's say for simplicity you're going to concentrate on only one. You have a trade pub ad for a free white paper on your topic, and in exchange the prospect has to provide their name, email address, and phone number.

At first you estimate; after awhile, you'll have real data to put into your money equation.

To begin with let's say the lead source isn't great but it isn't awful, either. It takes 15 leads coming in to get one good one. (A quick aside to explain further about how this could work: the white paper links to a YouTube video series which continue the qualification process; then they're invited to get on a group education call or webinar; from there those who know they're ready book a call with the salesperson.)

So 50 qualified leads X 15 = 750 unqualified leads over the year(!) that you need to be bringing in under this example.

That's basically 63 per month or 13 every working day. If your funnel has been producing a trickle of say 2 leads a working day (and I suspect even that would be high for you right now), can you see how you've been beaten before starting? How you had no chance of making enough money, no matter how vaguely the target may have been defined?

This is your activity level. Once you've done this simple calculation, you know you need to build to those 13 leads coming in every day. How will you do it? What sources do you need to hook up to?

Unqualified Leads >> Qualified Leads >> Sales.

750 >> 50 >> 10 (in this example. Every instance is different.)

U >> Q is Traffic. Traffic quantity and traffic quality. How good is that lead source?

Q >> S is Conversion. How good is your sales letter, VSL, salesperson?

When you run your actual performance numbers against the planned estimates, you find out what to work on. Traffic? or Conversion?

Remember, what other people are doing is measuring Leads >> Sales. Just those two elements. That's the equivalent of throwing something against the wall and hoping something sticks. They can't diagnose. They make all kinds of attempts to fix problems, but they can't see what they're doing and even if they do succeed, they don't know why so they can't repeat or duplicate the effort.

So with that simple system in mind, the money equation, my answer to your question is:

Don't go out there and blindly hire three guys to do some jobs. If they support your money equation, you know how they'll either get you leads coming in, qualify them, or convert them into sales, then yes. And you make those targets obvious to them. Not "as much as you can."

One final note about speed. I call this the speedometer because with the money equation you see how fast you need to move to hit your money target. What if you discover there's no way you can pump enough leads through the system in time? Say you have a $50 product and you want that $1M. You're going to need 20,000 sales to hit that revenue target, aren't you? That's over 1600 sales every month. You may look at that and exclaim to yourself, "No way. We don't have the distribution channel to do that right now and I don't know how to buy into one yet." That tells you right away you shouldn't do this: you need to come up with a different way of making the money that matches the speed you can run at.

When it's just you doing the closing, you have only so many hours in the day. I would concentrate on making your marketing incredibly effective at attracting, qualifying, and pre-selling prospects so that when they get on the phone with you they're ready to buy. If you try and tackle the whole job by yourself on the phone, it's too late. It'll take too long.

In your question details, which again I thank you for providing and lead to me writing this detailed answer, I don't see a "strategy." I see "let me put some mechanical concepts to work" (a machine to try and generate some leads by conversations, a machine to try and intercept interested readers with content, and a machine to try and generate leads by organic internet traffic). But no cohesive spine behind them. No "this is how they'll work together."

SEO can take a long time to work. Content needs to be in the right place for your target market to see it--you can churn out legitimately great content but if nobody sees it, what's it worth? And outbound prospecting often hits the wall with big companies (it's happened to me in the past year--voice mail hell with companies of 1000 people or more...computer-voiced auto attendants, no chance of live interaction...full VM boxes so you can't leave a message...no phone sales technique can work if you don't get another human being on the line). So you need a strategy behind activities, which maybe you do have but just haven't written down here because you want to keep it private.

If you want my help in developing that strategy, you know where to find me. ;-)


Answered a year ago

My tendency for creating core clients, tends to be different than most.

Whenever I'm bootstrapping a new business or looking for a large cash flow infusion, I avoid online + go offline.

My venues are speaking/networking at Meetup events + conferences.

Put me in a room with 100 people who've paid $1000s to be in the room + I can convert most of the room to clients.

I tend to treat online marketing as gravy + target my primary money, via platform talks.

So... If I were hiring people, I'd hire people who were excited about attending events + conferences to both network + speak.


Answered a year ago

Hello! Thank you for posting a question here with us. My name is Humberto Valle, I have been involved with strategy and marketing for the better part of 10 years. I have helped multiple companies grow from $0 dollars to few million in revenue. It honestly sounds me to like you need to outsource your needs so that you can act as CMO not as marketing manager.

When you hire a lead generation person you will either be hiring someone who is good at sales networking (in person pursuit) or funnels and sales psychology for buyer personas/buyer's journey and one that fully understands both business and your industry needs.

Second, content creators (whether is video, animations, writing, imagery, slides, wikis, answering questions here on Clarity, quora, bloggers, etc) are experts whom you hire once you know exactly who your target demographic is and the best channels you need to approach them. The same goes for SEO - you need to know who they are so you can target the most efficient keywords. For example, targeting highly competed over keywords on a low engagement channel would take longer to leverage versus a low highly targeted keywords with less search but high conversion based on the buyer journey. If you already are in the position to hire based on already knowing what they will most likely do, this is a great step for your company! Congratulations! If you are looking to hire due to the services needed, maybe consider hiring an agency such as our, www.Unthink.me works with many companies (SMBs with no more than $5-7 million dollars in revenue) in various industries doing exactly what you are looking for. If you are interested, please send me an email directly to humberto@Unthink.me - I can give you a quick rundown of our services and low fees. Thank you!


Answered a year ago

I recommend that you create a repeatable, predictable process before you go and hire a bunch of folks. Create a playbook first! Since you are in charge of Sales and marketing, you are responsible for identifying your most profitable Core Customer and then teaching the process of how to find, attract and close them. DO NOT make this a process driven by luck. Figure out why your best and most profitable customers are working with you and reverse engineer the sales process until you find a pattern that you can teach to everyone else. Here is the blueprint I share with my clients. Good luck!

Playbook
Company
1. Mission Statement
2. About our Company
3. Meet Exec Team
4. Hierarchy - org chart
5. Anything else pertinent?

Market and Why?
1. The Problem(s)
2. The Solution(s)
3. Market Definition(s) - Core Customer(s), Sandbox(es)
4. Ideal Customer Profile(s)
5. Direct Competition
6. Indirect Competition

Methodology
1. Overview - High level - How to - Address Market & Acquire New Customers
2. Sales Targets & Benchmarks
3. Sales Funnel -Visual
4. Sales Funnel Definitions

Sales Process
1. Elevator Pitch
2. FAQ –Needs Analysis and Customer/Channel
3. Most Common Objections
4. Post Sales Delivery Process
5. Ongoing Service
6. Account Management - More business from existing customers
7. New Rep Growth Expectations


Answered a year ago

I think all these activities will increase your sales eventually, but you should go for one at a time. Hire the one that you think is the most necessary right now:

*Do you need to generate new leads?
*Does your content or sales page require modifications?
*Do you need to invest more in ads and seo?

With three new resources it will be just one big chaos and you won't have much time for your sales.


Answered a year ago

Awesome to see that you're wearing all hats! That's the way to go at an early stage company and it's the way to learn the fastest.

Depends on the product and industry, but most def. start with lead gen because you ALWAYS want a consistent pipeline coming in.

The most important thing is to have high-quality leads as well as a clear process that you and your team can stick with. Then grow it slowly from there when work is overwhelmed. Equip your team with the best tools and the most quality data. Hope this helps!


Answered a year ago

Great question! My company went from 2 salespeople and no process to 50+ with solid and improving process in 3 years. Here are some lessons we learned that might help you.

1. If you don't have a built-out sales process, script, best practices, pre-written objection answers, etc, but need to move fast on hires: hire a couple people who are likely to figure it out. You can then document all of this process off of what they do well, which will help you iterate and improve over time. You can see my post about how to hire for this person here: https://www.derekjankowski.com/characteristics-of-successful-salespeople/

2. If you DO have this process put together, then you should invest in training. It might be a tough sell to management, but you should spend significant time training salespeople before you let them talk to a customer. You don't want them to practice with money (imagine playing poker with real money before you really understand how to play!). 4-6 weeks of training is not unreasonable, but it's hard to say what makes sense without more details of your situation.

3. As others have said, you mus start with your plan and work backwards. How much revenue do you need to drive? How do leads currently convert as they run through the funnel? One problem you're likely to run into: management might build a model that expects your new reps to deliver the kind of performance you have been. You actually want to cushion this number. People quit, go on PTO, or fail to learn as fast as your model calls for--the list of points of failure is infinite. Create a plan that lets you deliver 30% more revenue than management needs you to and you are likely to hit the number they need.

I've done all of these things, so let me know if you want help either flushing out the details or walking through the plan.


Answered 5 months ago

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