Roadmap for a Sales Manager to Improve Sales Prospecting

By November 28, 2016Sales
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Ah, the never-ending question that we hear from our customers. “Reps are lazynot motivated”, “reps are unproductive”, “reps are not efficient enough”. Sounds familiar?
But in the end, what does it even mean to be productive. When we ask them for this definition it just gets confusing.

Let’s clarify first, what is sales reps productivity?

It’s a metric, each to its own too. To some, it’s calls per hour, closure per interaction, power conversations and overall greater sales velocity.

In one sentence – it’s about having effective conversations with prospective customers. Ideally, your ideal customers with actual needs rather than the ones who are only window shopping.

I’m certain you understand it is more than just calling non-stop. For all you know, they could be calling some hotline.

Don’t get mistaken, though. Sales is still a numbers game. The way sales funnel is, the more you put into, the more you get out of it. But the ratio of that depends on sales manager’s effort too. How well prospecting plan is developed, what strategic approach manager took?

pipeline

But, less yapping more answering questions, right?

Let me clarify first – not all reps are designed for fanatical prospecting (thanks to Jeb Blount for the term).

You may implement this 5 step plan right away, but it still starts with hiring the right talent. And among all the traits and experiences coachability is the most important trait you’re looking for.

most revealing ques

Another fact – prospecting changed in 2016. It’s been changing for some time now, but cold-calling is less and less effective nowadays. Thanks to the internet, the buyer is more than ever in control and regular sales pitch just doesn’t work as well as it used to. You have to understand when the buyer is ready to engage and when it’s just way too early. Hubspot has this defined as a Buyer’s Journey. If you approach a buyer at the awareness stage and offer him to buy something from you – 99.9% he will say no.

So, how do you make reps prospect more nowadays?

First, set well-defined Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Defining your ICP should be the first thing you do as a sales manager. It’s so important that you shouldn’t move a single step without knowing who you’re after.

ideal-customer

To setup a proper ICP you have to answer these questions:

  • What industry you’re after?
  • Geo-specific or not?
  • What company size?
  • Who in the company?
  • Any other demographics?
  • What challenges they face?
  • Even consider the way they talk.

This should put you in their shoes and help to understand why they want to buy something from you. And the way that something should be sold.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and set up that ICP matrix, I’ll wait.

Got it? OK!

Now your sales reps know who they’re looking for. This is the most essential part of any prospecting strategy. Now your reps will know the right person when all those parts check out. It’s very similar to BINGO. You just check aimlessly if you got the right combination and once the final part clicks in – BINGO! You got a perfect potential customer.

Your reps now know who to look for, but the question remains HOW they do it? How do they find that perfect customer?

Simply using the right tools for the job.

They can’t just guess a name, phone number or an email address, right?

A sales rep is just as effective as the tools he’s using.

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So, set the right toolkit on your own first and test it. Find some prospects yourself to understand the functionality and issues your reps might be facing when using this or that tool. You have to get your hands dirty first.

I suggest 3 categories of tools to equip your rep:

improve sales prospecting sales-acc-cta

Each of those will make your reps life that much easier. But they still need goals, no?

Yes!

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Setting right expectation is the key.

Tell reps what do you expect from them on a successful day. Setting up a first appointment? Maybe nurturing prospect for the demo?

If you’re a new sales manager, I imagine it’s difficult to set these expectations. Especially if goals change weekly. But start breaking it down:

  • Amount of new connections daily / weekly
  • Amount of leads in different stages
  • Amount of calls or power connects
  • Time spent on prospecting vs time spent on follow-ups?
  • Define which leads are high relevance

Setting expectations to the healthy pipeline flow is a difficult activity if you can’t run. Aaron Ross explains more in this video.

However, I would also suggest going 1 step further.

Schedule a calendar for your reps.

I know. At this point it becomes almost as if you’re babysitting. And that is exactly what you might have to do, though initially!

one-hour-activity

When you put it on the calendar – it gets done. I’ve been putting stuff on my calendar even if it’s a regular activity – otherwise, I would decide to “do it later” and later soon becomes never. So, block your calendar if you want to stay productive.

And from my own experience, I can tell you. If you decide to setup “Prospecting Time” it will not work. It has to be specific. The more specific you are, — the better. Just be clear about the time it takes. Don’t setup 1-hour activity for half a day and vice versa. That’s why you, as a sales manager, have to try everything yourself first and understand the length each task takes.

Not sure what else to put on the calendar? Well, I loved what Juliana Crispo shared on her Youtube: How to structure your day! Video Here. Be sure to tell her, I sent you!

Ok, we’re nearing the end. What’s the final step?

To Celebrate!!

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You might think I totally lost my mind by this point. But hear me out.

Prospecting isn’t the most exciting activity on the planet. Some might argue?

wrong

It’s your job to make it fun. Think of ways to celebrate small victories – reps have to remain motivated. It’s usually the toughest part to do as the motivation varies from individual to individual.

And money is less and less effective as a source of motivation. Think creatively for god sakes, what about some competition? The latest gadget? A day off? A new tool to allow them to prospect faster? Symbolic trophy? Even a prank to a loser could work, just not too harsh on this one. But what I want to say, is that it’s your way to think of fun ways to motivate your reps. Not just by giving them a check.

On the final chord.

Well, that is how you make your reps prospect more. Hope it gave you some insights and will help you to set up an effective prospective culture. And even if the buyer’s are more in control than ever, you’re still responsible to adapt your sales reps behaviour to make them more effective. Got anything to add, share or tell me that I’m wrong? Use the comment section below!

Also, I’d like to give you something special for reading all of this:

improving sales prospecting bundle-cta

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by Jonas Matkevicius

Jonas is a marketing specialist at SalesChakra. He is a certified inbound marketer who drives social media engagement and optimizes content for audiences. He loves to write on sales, non profits and entrepreneurship.