Holding Sales with a Shared Quota

This blog builds on a previous blog titled Sales and Marketing Alignment Requires Agreement on Lead Definitions.  It describes a metric driven approach to get sales and marketing excited about working as a team to put qualified deals in your sales team’s pipe.

Whether you are building your sales team, outsourcing sales, outsourcing lead generation, outsourcing sales nurturing or sales qualifying, all the focus needs to be closing business. As we discussed in Sales and Marketing Alignment Requires Agreement on Lead Definitions, there are three steps in sales and marketing alignment that that will ultimately give your marketing team a sales quota:

The first step in building Sales and Marketing Alignment is to agree on your Ideal Customer Profile.

The second step is to agree on definitions for early stage leads, which are:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) – Accepted information.
  • MQL Hot  – They are actively digesting the right message and content in multiple ways.
  • Sales Accepted Leads (SAL) – There is a fit between the customers pains or needs and your product or solution.  It makes sense for telesales to invest time in.
  • Sales Qualified Lead  (SQL)  – Established decision making process, budget and/or path to budget
  • Nurture – Have expressed interest and legitimately not yet ready to buy.

The third step is to make sure that the marketing team and telesales team understand that they have a shared job, which is:

  • to put deals in the pipe that can eventually close
  • to keep as many leads in play until they are ready for sales
  • to get deals out of the pipe that will never transact
  • to avoid generating leads that will never transact
  • ultimately to keep the steady state pipe at a volume that keeps the sale team at maximum effectiveness

The way we frame the jobs for our outsourcing lead generation and marketing teams is they always need to be creating measurable momentum with a focus on moving deals towards qualification and ultimately, the close.  The different jobs are:

  • MQLs = Momentum Makers – have the effect that starts momentum
  • SALs =  Momentum Builders –have the effect that increases momentum
  • Nurture =  Momentum Sustainers – have the effect that prolongs momentum

The other positive outcome is the lead generation reps stop filling the pipe with leads for lead volume’s sake and they become self-critical of squandering time, energy and resources on tactics that they deem as:

  • Momentum Breakers- have the effect that stop momentum
  • Momentum Takers – have the effect that sap momentum
  • Momentum Fakers –have the effect that stage momentum

The lead generation reps, inside sales reps and marketing coordinator’s collective scorecard is based on Sales Qualified Leads. What emerges are statistics the team can leverage on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to identify what’s working vs. what isn’t working. . Here is what the early stage metrics would look like specifically for an aligned marketing and telemarketing organization following up on a Webcast.

The power of measuring it this way is manifold, but quickly here is how I would read this:

  • Total calls to contact means the list is solid.  Good phone numbers.   A momentum sustainer.
  • The ICP profile is solid as is the initial script because 65% of the conversations we are having are moving forward and that’s a momentum builder.
  • The content is a winner because over half of the conversations we are having are accepting additional information.
  • Voice mail as a tactic is definitely a momentum maker because we have a 3% return.
  • Finally, Voice Mail is now a strategy that we need to totally commit to because 67% of those return calls are hitting the pipe.

Bottom line with this approach: you can measure both the team and the individual tactics so both the individual and the team successes are acknowledged simultaneously.

Ten Strategies to Increase Professional Service Sales in 2016 – Sales Tips for Professional Service Firms

Industry Intelligence from First Research, a division of Hoover’s (a D&B company), sees professional services industry growing at 2X plus of the rest of the economy through 2016. As an outsourcing sales company, we have seen this momentum build in the second half of 2015 and we are bullish on the potential for Professional Service Sales in 2016.

If you are responsible for growing your practice and have not already started lead generation and sales strategy planning for the coming year, the time to start is now. Below are some of the recommendations we have to improve your sales or inform a sales outsourcing strategy (specifically for professional service firms) in the coming year.

  1. Understand who your best customers are. To do this, you can build an Ideal Customer Profile.  Ask yourself, what companies eventually produce annuities and are the stickiest after the initial engagement? What clients can be serviced without monopolizing your high-end resources?
  2. Focus on targeting the right markets. The greatest impact you can have on your pipe is investing in putting in the right type of leads to start with.  Take the insights you gain from building an Ideal Customer Profile and take action.
  3. Mine your Dead Database. Sales cycles are getting longer.  If you have invested time and energy building a relationship with a potential customer in the past, make an effort to reach out to that prospect again.   As an outsourcing lead generation company, we have a specific “Wake the Dead” campaign that allows us to reach out to and attempt to re-engage as many as 1000 “dead leads” in a little over 3 weeks. For several of our clients, we have seen half our deals come from prospects we wrote off as dead in the first half of 2016.
  4. Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Establish metrics that measure the velocity of your pipe.   What content moves deals? What conversations move deals forward? What key events (both internal and external) move deals forward?
  5. Examine your Sales Process. Once you have established your KPIs, look at what works in your sales process and increase your focus there; get rid of what is not working and automate whatever you can.
  6. Digitize, Digitize, Digitize. If you give a speech, make a presentation or hear the same objection more than once a quarter create a podcast,  record a webinar or write a blog about it.  Then give it to a less costly resource to push into the market for you.  Odds are that if one prospect finds it valuable, so will another 100 prospects.   There is no excuse not to share your expertise, tools have come down in price and the average buyer now looks at 12 pieces of content before making a purchase decision.  Make it easy for your buyer to buy.
  7. Look at marketing automation software. If you make contact with someone not ready to buy (e.g. make initial contact when they are still educating themselves), keep your first mover advantage and stay top of mind.  Subscriptions to these products dropped dramatically in 2011.  An investment in nurturing your leads the first half of the year can pay huge dividends the second half of the year.
  8. Sell money. Create a solid ROI calculator. If your customer gives you $100, when will you return that $100? When will you return $120? When will your return $200?  What are the topline impacts of a relationship with you, and what is the cost of your client waiting a year to do business with you?
  9. Make sure your message is consistent. Sales and Marketing Alignment is critical to your success in a professional services sale.  Buying professional services often requires selling intangibles.  This increases the risk for the buyer, so they are looking for a reason to say no.  Don’t give them one.
  10. Focus on your core competency. Day to day details of sales operations and marketing operations can be taxing and dilute focus.  Digital content, marketing automation, webcasting, SEO tools and Social Media, are changing the way buyers buy.  2011 introduced a host of sales and marketing technologies that can be leveraged for effectiveness.  Create a sales strategy and or lead generation strategy and consider partnering to augment capability and increase capacity, to grow your sales in the coming year.

As a top professional service sales outsourcing company, we have the expertise and experience to help you intelligently and methodically build a sales machine that scales and makes your revenues increase.    Contact us for a free consultation to see what we can do to improve your sales performance and pipeline velocity in 2012.

Gym Jones Salvation Site

A few weeks ago I was reading a forum thread on the Gym Jones Salvation Site, an excellent resource for training and stimulating intelligent discussion. The first post in the thread contained a list taken from a Prestressed Concrete Design Handbook, and was so thought provoking that I decided to share it with the inside sales and lead generation team here at Gabriel Sales.

Here is the list:

1. You cannot have everything.
2. You cannot have something for nothing.
3. It is never too late.
4. There is no progress without considered risk.
5. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
6. Simplicity is always an advantage, but beware of oversimplification.
7. Do not generalize, but rather qualify the specific circumstances.
8. The important thing is how good, not how cheap, a product is.
9. We live and learn.
10. There is nothing completely new.

I have confidence this list can be applied to personal relationships, athletics and anywhere else you invest your time but for me, a Sales Executive tasked with managing outsourced sales and outsourced lead generation team helping drive growth and profitability for companies, the first connection that I personally made applied to sales strategy and accountability. Some of the questions that came to my mind about how I can improve results were:

  • Is this sales team spreading itself to thin?
  • Are we focused on improving the right areas of the sales process?
    • Lead sourcing and lead generation, Sales Qualifying, Sales Engagement, Closing
  • Where can the lead generation team become more efficient?
    • Message, Call Volume
  • What are the real sales objections that my process is raising?
    • Technical, Business
  • Are we staying ahead of the competition?
    • Sales content strong enough

The great thing about what we do here at Gabriel Sales is that I have real time data and tools to provide sales insights to answers to these questions. We are able to take these insights and create sales and sales content strategies about how to most effectively tweak the sales messages and automate the process with digital content to move forward.

It struck me how much we treat our job like training for sport, the results can be recorded, measured and adjusted based on individual needs to move you closer to your goals. In sports you have aerobic, anaerobic, nutrition and rest.  One slips and it all slips.  In sales execution it’s lead generation, sales qualifying, sales engagement and closing.  In sales strategy it’s targeting, sales content, sales message and sales execution.  We treat sales as a sport so aligning sales and marketing strategy is anything but guess work.  You can improve what you measure and focus on the gaps.  All you need to do is invest some time looking at the data, adjusting strategy, and pushing through peaks and valleys. This gives you the ability to compete at your peak when race day comes.

Nick Fagan – Director of Sales and Account Management

Sales Consulting vs. Sales Outsourcing or Both?

Blast your Marketing Automation!This blog is to help companies thinking about sales outsourcing to improve the long-term results and effectiveness.

Gabriel Sales is an sales outsourcing company in the truest sense of the word.    Sales outsourcing is not necessarily cheaper (at least in the short term).   It’s about making your investment work harder and smarter.  Sales outsourcing should make you more effective. You get access to shared tools, sales and marketing expertise, sales management expertise and processes required for success.

Companies don’t generally come to us because they are wildly successful on their own.  They come to us because they want to close more business faster.   In most cases, that requires consulting upfront.  This blog is designed to help you be as honest as possible about how much consulting you might need prior to starting a sales outsourcing relationship.

There are a multitude of options for companies to drive sales other than of building their own internal team.  Wikipedia has great overviews of your options -from channel sales, to resellers, to manufacturer rep to outsourced sales companies.  When discussing outsourcing sales, where we like to start the conversation is the word “outsourcing” itself:

Outsourcing involves the contracting of a business process – previously performed in-house – to an external provider.

Outsourcing = Process previously performed transitioned

By this definition very few companies are looking for pure sales outsourcing, which is why we define ourselves as a sales execution, sales consulting and sales content marketing company.  We execute while we consult.

During our initial conversation with potential clients looking for “outsourced sales”, what we discover with a little back in forth is some of what they are currently doing works and some of it does not, so we separate the issues.  We quickly discover what they really need is a combination of 2 to 5 of the areas below:

  • Sales scripting
  • Outsourcing lead generation
  • Outsourcing lead nurturing
  • Outsourcing sales qualifying
  • Outsourcing sales closing
  • Sales Consulting
  • Commission only reps
  • Contracted Sales Reps

When someone is looking for a contracted rep or commission only, they are not really interested in a repeatable sales process which means by definition it’s not outsourcing (at least our definition).

When we talk to most companies we work through a formal process to identify how much consulting they need, so we can figure out how fast we can start executing to fill their pipe.  Generally we can start executing and consulting concurrently.    We have a formal process called the Gabriel System™ that makes this easy for our clients.  We can generally get through this discovery process within the first week of launch and be on the phone filling the pipe within two weeks.   What follows below is an abridged overview of what we extract during Gabriel System™ discovery process.  Unless you are a pure start up launching from scratch, something you are doing is already successful.  It’s our aim to figure out what is working, so we can improve on that for exponential growth.

Our first set of questions surrounds how mature that sales function and process really is:

  • What is the historical sales cycle?
  • How accurate was last years forecast?
  • How many meetings does a typical sale take?
  • What is the material presented in each one of those meetings?
  • What digital content is being consumed are part of the sale?
  • How many cold calls does it take to put a prospect into the pipe?
  • How many prospects are currently in their nurture pipe?
  • What are their typical conversion metrics?  (Including: lead generation to sales qualified prospects, sales qualified prospects to sales proposals, sales proposals to closed sales,  closed sales to upsell)
  • Do they have cold call script?  Do they have first call scripts?
  • Is the pricing model fixed?  When was the last time it was changed?
  • Who are there top three direct competitors?  Who are there top three indirect competitors?  Why do you win?  Why do you lose?
  • What markets have you targeted?  What is the market size?  What decision maker do you sell to in that market?  Why do they buy your product?  What is there Return on Investment?
  • What technology platforms are you using for sales force automation, marketing automation, direct marketing, cold calling, database providers, list management,  webcasting,  video?
  • Do you have a creative agency and how will we collaborate with them?  Is marketing an internal function?

Our second set of questions (really just one question): How much of this is documented?

  • If its fully documented you are ready to outsource
  • If its not you need some sales consulting too

Our third set of questions is specifically about each stage of the discrete part of the sales process -happy, not happy, needs improvement- grouping them as follows:

  • Lead Sourcing and Targeting?
  • Lead Generation?
  • Sales Qualifying?
  • Sales and Marketing Alignment?
  • Sales Engagement and Sales Pipe Velocity?
  • Sales Metrics?
  • Sales Closing and Sales Upsell?

Our final set of questions is about how message and content readiness:

  • Do they have a positioning document
  • Do they have a messaging document
  • How much collateral do they have and what type of collateral

What does this all boil down to?  The more honest you are upfront with an outsourcing sales partner the faster they will be productive. We encourage you to be honest and clear about what is broken that you need fixed:

  • Be clear if you are happy with specific sales processes.  If you you are happy your process and your process is documented, then you are completely ready to outsource with no consulting
  • If you want to improve specific sales functions or specific tactics to compete more aggressively, then you may need a little consulting in specific areas
  • If you are looking for an overhaul, you probably need full sales, sales process, and/or sales message and content consulting upfront

The value Gabriel Sales brings to the table as a sales outsourcing partner is that we don’t wait to start executing.  We lead with execution and support with consulting. We execute to fill the pipe to shorten your sales cycle, while we simultaneously consult to improve your strategy.  Doing both simultaneously gives everyone the hard data, metrics and qualitative insights required to create a winning and competitive sales machine without costing us valuable time getting to the market.  We execute and consult simultaneously because Gabriel Sales generally works with teams that want to win and want to double sales growth year after year, so we understand:

  • Unless you are on the field taking shots on goal you don’t get 2X growth and…
  • If they are bad shots on goal you don’t get 2X growth

If you are interested in getting to the market with speed and would like to learn more about how we can get you into the market fast with the right sales strategy please CONTACT US for a free pipe velocity review.