There’s no doubt about it, selling is hard. Reps can often feel overwhelmed with multiple tasks, putting out fires with clients, and staring down what seems like a massive quota. Not to mention the pressure of their daily lives brings stress into the workplace; so why do we as leaders feel we need to add more to their plate? The goal is almost always enablement and improvement, however, it can oftentimes be frustrating for the reps. How can you balance this dichotomy?
Assess the Daily Workload With a Ride-Along
Ride-along’s can feel like a massive time suck from a managerial standpoint but will be immensely rewarding in the long run. The goal here is to gain knowledge of what the sales reps do with their time. What is taking them longer than normal? What seems like an annoyance to them? Sitting quiet, and just being present with an open mind is the best way to approach this. Your reps will undoubtedly feel stressed that you’re watching them work, calling out ahead of time that this isn’t a performance assessment, or any sort of reprimanding measure is key. Create a list of key items you want to watch for and summarize your notes once you’re done. This will help steer your conversations in the future on what you’ve identified as time wasters for the reps.
Removing Over-Encumbering Reports
In sales, data can mean everything. Whether you’re using an analytics software or not, you’re more than likely digging through sales reports on a daily basis. Why bog your reps down with another report then? By no means is this meant to advocate for not reporting/ recording you work – the point is to understand why those reports exist. If you don’t have a “why” for the report or process, then why have it at all. Finding reports that can be removed or combined can seriously help free up some of your rep’s overall time.
Bad Contact Data
It goes without saying that the sales rep is only as good as the data that is provided to them. That means that your reps are more than likely wasting time on reaching out to invalid contacts, or managing email bounces. There’s about a thousand business intelligence solutions out there that your team can invest in, however, there’s a free way you can get started fixing bad contact data issues. Instilling a research-minded sales culture can be key. Training people to utilize LinkedIn (or LinkedIn Sales Navigator, if you have it) can help verify if the contact is still at the company and help add in new potential contacts to be prospected. Your team can also take a proactive approach by utilizing free software out there like Hunter.io to verify email addresses. However you go about it, enabling your sales reps to be research driven, rather than disengaging from the task once they receive an email bounce can help keep the momentum with their daily work. This, coupled with a business intelligence software will save you and your team countless hours of frustrating conversations.
When looking at your sales process, how many steps are you asking your reps to complete? If you either cannot answer this question, or can’t remember all the steps, then it might be time to asses the sales process as a whole. Prospecting, running meetings, and closing sales can be very hard to wrap into a firm process. The best way to find out what can be edited is to get feedback from your reps and find any consistencies. Processes should be built so they can be edited, and if something isn’t working in your process, don’t be afraid to take it out. Just a best practice, you should critique your sales process every so often to ensure it’s not sapping your rep’s time.
All in all, there are a lot of grey areas with enabling time management. Taking a posture of humility and openness, and making sure you’re regularly checking yourself is a great place to start. It’s easy for leaders to get so ingrained in one position or process and ignore the truth that said process might not be working. If you can figure that out, you’re on the right track.
Lead generation is an important aspect of any B2B sales and marketing effort, but it’s certainly not the be all end all. What’s arguably more important is a business’s ability to actually close those leads and convert them into paying customers. Check out our whitepaper, “Closing Leads Like a Boss” to start improving your sales process.
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