If you are a salesperson, and you need a productivity boost, there are lots of possibilities, such as better meeting preparation, more practice presenting, maintaining your relationships, and working to become more organized.
However, what if your entire organization needs a sales productivity boost? What can an organization do?
Contests and sales training are obvious things that come to mind. However, if these have any effect at all, they are typically short lived.
If your salespeople are already doing the basic blocking and tackling of selling, and you still need to improve sales productivity in an organization, you cannot do it by trying to affect what salespeople do.
That’s aiming at what salespeople do overlooks the sales process itself.
That is, it does not change the flow of activities around leads, opportunities, and deals.
For organizations, productivity boosts require changing the flow of the work. Here are two examples: Lead Generation, and Lead Nurturing.
In most companies, leads (if there are any) are probably of low quality, meaning most are never going to buy.
Sales contests and sales training do no good if the real bottleneck is lead generation. Neither does asking salespeople to do more cold calling or networking. If salespeople could generate enough leads that way, would you have a lead shortage in the first place?
This is one of the most common problems we see in sales organizations. Senior leaders usually grew up in the era when it was at least somewhat feasible to “hold salespeople accountable for finding their own leads.”
In the Internet age, when everyone uses their favorite search engine to find information to solve their problems, this is no longer viable. Sure, salespeople need to be able to make cold calls when absolutely necessary, but your business better not depend on it.
Much better to devise some kind of magnetic attraction system via the internet and in trade publications, where you can generate a predictable stream of traffic.
Salespeople are generally not involved in their company’s presence on Internet or in trade publications, much to their frustration.
In fact, entire companies are emerging to tap the market for helping independent sales representatives use Internet marketing to find their own leads and create their own customers. Perry Marshall (www.perrymarshall.com) is only one example of this. Glazer-Kennedy is another (www.glazer-kennedy.com).
The result? The independent sales reps who succeed at marketing in the Internet age gain control: They can find a different manufacturer far more easily than the manufacturers can find new customers or independent representatives!
This sea change in the market hits B2B companies in an awkward spot, because it contradicts traditional departmental functions.
On the positive side, when a company gets its act together and gets good at lead generation, the result is miraculous!
As proof, I would offer the case examples described by Brian Carroll, author of “Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.”
We conducted a fascinating webinar with Brian in the professional members area of SPIF! in early February. (Members can log in here to watch that webinar: http://www.salesperformance.com/how-to-generate-and-sustain-a-25-increase-in-sales-opportunities-in-90-days-or-less-2)
One of the principal challenges of lead generation is that once you succeed in finding individuals who could buy, they are usually not ready to buy now.
Most companies simply send all “leads” on to their salespeople, which creates lots of waste and negative effects:
First, customers get frustrated when salespeople try to get them to do things they are not ready to do.
Second, salespeople get frustrated. After all, their job is to close business and the majority of these “leads” do not want to buy now.
Third, salespeople end up spending time unproductively.
Of course there are the rare occasions when prospects need to overcome inertia to do something they need, but don’t want, to do. A good salesperson can make a difference then.
Yet, how often does this happen in B2B, where so many people play a role in buying decisions? Is it even realistic that sales training can get these prospects to do things they are not ready to do?
A company that has its act together not only has a process in place to generate leads, it identifies the ones who are actually ready to talk to a salesperson and sends only those to the sales force.
The rest are hooked up to a nurturing campaign that is designed to benefit the majority of prospects who are not ready to buy now. These prospects get educational information and entertaining communications distributed over time. They are more highly qualified at the end of the campaign than they were at the beginning.
Nurturing campaigns are not difficult or expensive to do. They are not time consuming. In fact, once they are set up, they save loads of time: Salespeople become immediately more productive because they can focus on the right prospects.
And the company as a whole becomes more productive, because it achieves dramatically increased returns on its investment in lead generation.
How does this work? How can you implement a lead generation campaign for your business, so you can double your salespeople’s productivity?
That’s what you’ll learn in the SPIF! webinar on Thursday of this week:
How to Double Salespeople’s Productivity
by Building Nurturing
into Your Sales Process
An Interview with Jim Cecil
Thursday April 2, 2009, 3:00pm Eastern Time
This webinar is free to Professional Members of SPIF! Guests may register and receive access to the recording of the webinar for 30 days for a fee of $47.
I look forward to talking with you on Thursday.
March 31, 2007