Finally, Microsoft picked a CEO and now the company can get back to the pursuit of success. Reports are that Mr. Nadella will have to wear many hats and understand and function in several diverse capacities. (He’ll also have to get his name into the MS Word dictionary, pronto.) Basically, he’ll have to be many employees in one; so much so that Mr. Gates is once again being engaged to lead Microsoft’s Technology Practice because Microsoft’s CEO task is just too big for one person!
Some companies think the same thing when building their inside sales team, “finally, we hired some inside salespeople and we’re going to take off.” They don’t consider that they, too, are requiring their new hires to be more than one employee and perform optimally for the company while doing it.
Steve W. Martin outlines four stages of the typical inside sales team and what prevents them from achieving success in his blog, Why Sales Organizations Fail. His research pointed to a lack of success resulting from the challenges associated with the specific development stage in which the sales operation finds itself.
The stages he observed are: Build, Compete, Maintain, Extend or Cull. We found it interesting that the teleprospecting work that we do can help mitigate the risk associated with the challenges of most all of the stages. We’ll address each stage and offer up how we see that our services help each one. We’ll also keep a tally of all of the “hats” at least a few of the company’s sales pros will have to wear to be successful.
In the beginning, there is the Build stage. “The top sales challenge in the Build stage is creating sufficient sales coverage to push the product into the market,” Martin asserts. This is the most obvious stage where teleprospecting would have benefits since focused outbound contact is core to bringing in new business. The key aspect of the challenge is “sufficient sales coverage.” Selling and generating opportunities to sell require different skills sets.
How many top shelf sales executives are great cold callers?
The challenge of the Compete stage is reported to be scalability and is also when “the sales organization begins to develop its collective intuition of where it can win new business and where it is likely to lose.” The scalability contribution is obvious – outsourcing has long been a practical means of achieving scale. But what’s not so obvious is that mastering the “intuition” that Martin speaks of is actually one of the ways we’re able to provide leads plentifully – seasoned prospectors quickly develop this intuition and focus on most likely winners because they do it for client after client and develop a knack for finding opportunity. Martin warns that getting this wrong creates “organizational thrashing,” that we equate to demoralization of perhaps the whole company and certainly costly turnover.
At this point at least a few sales staff must be consultative sellers, cold callers and now, intuitively cognizant of the company’s sweet spot.
Two challenges of the Maintain stage are 1) maximizing sales productivity by lowering the cost of sales … and 2) maintaining predictability of revenue. Wow, can we help here. Sales productivity can be increased significantly by having sales engineers, proposal writers and other such activity focusing on truly winnable deals exclusively. Our ability to qualify prospects and projects for near term or the future ensures that sales resources are invested in only high probability deals. And, while social media and other in-bound programs will certainly bring in business, it’s not terribly predictable as you’re “waiting on the phone to ring.” What is predictable are the fruits of honest hard work of lifting business in the door (and that’s what we do).
Now, add to the sales talent stack expert qualifying and uninterrupted persistence toward predictable revenue.
If you don’t have at least a few sales team members that can manage all these roles and do it before the competition does, you end up in what Martin calls the Cull stage where your competitors have eaten your lunch and you have to generate some involuntary turnover to clean the slate. This is expensive in terms of dollars but also in company reputation and company morale. How does teleprospecting help in this situation? By preventing it, if used properly, but it is also a great way to generate predictable revenue while you’re circling the wagons, retraining or making any other organizational adjustments.
So, it looks like a successful selling operation will require at least a few team members that are able to cold call, qualify, know the sweet spot, consultative sell and do it all such that everything is predictable. If all that seems like too much to you, follow Mr. Nadella’s lead and find someone who has done part of it for a long time.