After identifying how Founder/Directors can solve the problem of falling into being the primary revenue driver of the business in our last blog, ‘Stepping away from Director led Sales’, it’s equally important to build the sales function correctly, moving forward.
To do this, a robust strategy is required and onboarding the right resources at the right time is critical. For example, a big hitter with no leads is a heavy overhead, therefore it may be more appropriate to focus on lead generation activities first to get the motor running first.
The importance of Content
Irrespective of whether you use internal resources of external providers for your lead generation, you will need some form of marketing, tasked with creating collateral to help spark interest for your lead generation activities.
But it’s not enough to just make content. You have to make content that is directly applicable to the salespeople’s needs and find ways to easily get that content into their hands. If you are lacking the ammunition of brochures, case studies and ROI calculators perhaps it’s time you extend your efforts and create them.
This should take us back to the Value Proposition as a simple place to start is by getting back to basics. Whilst this sounds like a dull process of going back to the beginning, it is also a critical element of any new hire’s education and we should always be checking to make sure we’re still relevant.
To do this you have to think about your target Customers and your Product/Service mix. For the customer you should be creating content around Wants, Fears and Needs, and for Product/Service you need to cover off Features, Benefits and Experience.
Only by doing this will it allow you to create the right content for the right audiences. Once armed with such material you are far better placed to stimulate and feed the Lead Generation function.
But who generates leads?
My personal preference is always to hire internally for Lead Generation and a great way I have found to keep this initial cohort of salespeople/SDR’s interested is to engage them in the strategy. By showing them a clear development plan – you’d be amazed how motivating it can be as a junior hire to spend time with the Top Performers and Founder in the business as part of their evolution.
Taking on a more junior sales hire with mentoring, clear direction, and good quality marketing support also allows you to offer significant steps in their earning capability; although don’t rule out adding more experienced hires into the blend – provided they buy in to your longer-term strategies.
Hire based on sales talent
Hiring based on recognizing core sales talent is a stronger sales indication than purely looking at ‘years in industry’. But how do you identify sales talent?
Good salespeople must be effective communicators, socially strategic, technical, patient and have plenty of good old-fashioned grit. Primarily, you must evaluate if an individual has the ability to learn, develop and be coached.
You need salespeople who can recognize their own mistakes and areas to improve and figure out how to do better. We have found that salespeople who are naturally curious and humble are generally far more able to learn from others (management, coaches, peers) and from their own experience. This is something you need to look out for.
At the same time, you need to ask yourself is this person going to work hard enough to foster a culture of competitiveness on my team and drive revenue? You can evaluate this by asking about career goals (people who have high ambitions want to beat the competition to make it to the top).
Overcoming the hurdles and getting the blend right
A hurdle that often comes into play is getting the sales team to use the collateral on an ongoing basis. And one element that is often skipped is getting the marketing and sales team to continually work together on collateral ideas. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised by how many teams skip this step – something a great sales playbook such as SalesEnabla can support.
Whether it’s quarterly, monthly or weekly, schedule regular meetings with the sales team to touch base and get updates on what’s needed. From there, you can prioritize projects based on what’s requested and have a steady flow of collateral that will actually support with the sales process.
By building your sales function and ensuring to evaluate your strategy, sales talent, and collateral, will ground the sales team and provide a strong position for the team to overcome hurdles.
It will also set them up for success and start the process of shifting the sales responsibility and sales targets away from the Founders and allow them to address other aspects of the business growth.