For the last 10 years, we’ve all been — in one way or another — asking ourselves the same question: How do we makes our sales organizations more productive?
It’s a fair question, after all. We have (and always will have) a considerable need to help our reps up their games and to have the agility to create measurable growth that accommodates our company’s larger objectives. But with answers ranging from “we scientize it” to “we depend on the tech of the moment” to “eh, sales is a game of chance, right?” it’s difficult to confidently commit to a process.
I hold, however, that there is a constant that’s almost always overlooked in the search for sales productivity. It’s that, at the end of the day, any given sale is ultimately dependent on one person persuading another to do something.
And that’s no easy task. But armed with the right business tools — who our ideal customers are, how they prefer to be interacted with, and how we can most efficiently contact them — it’s a totally approachable missing piece. All other things equal, the quality of sales relationships will determine sales productivity.
Here’s how to do it.
While a no-brainer on the surface, instituting an org-wide process for relationship building (toward ideal sales targets, of course) can be pretty opaque if you don’t know how to start. And though I can describe how the finished product should work, I think an image is better. Remember how, during at least half of Glengarry Glen Ross, Al Pacino sits at the bar discussing life with someone he then sells to? That’s is what you’re after.
Any true relationship-based sales process is going to look a lot like a combination of influencer marketing and outside sales, both of which require quite a bit of time and effort to connect and maintain relationships with your ideal targets. Now, while this legwork may not be suited for your executive team (depending on the size of your org), it’s a perfect exercise for a business development team to practice and ensures the leads have multiple personal touches with your brand and product prior to delivering them (along with all pertinent relationship-based intel) to sales execs.
Buyer-Focused Processes Above All Else
A true master of sales productivity and Head of Social Selling Disruption at Creation Agency, Jack Kosakowski summed it up best when he said, “If your sales team doesn’t have a well-thought-out strategy around a buyer focused process, it’s time to wake up! The sales process needs to incorporate all buyer channels and offer value as the number one area of focus. Anyone can fix business problems, but very few add enough value to inspire change.”
To build out a buyer-focused sales process, it may be helpful to work with the Director of Lead Gen to ensure that your funnels are aligned and overlapping, and that the story you’re telling is larger than “what my product can do for you!” This ultimately involves an assessment of who your customers are, what they value, and what their industry’s problems are. With this, you’ll understand whether it’s better to sell on the basis of productivity, lack of clarity, problem of communication or whatever the issue you may be. And by doing so, you focus more closely on your buyer’s experiences and concerns, rather than just offering another tool to add to the stack.
Create a Flow of Information with Marketing
The biggest mistake you can make is believing that marketing has nothing to offer you. In addition to the leads they generate or accounts they prime through account-based marketing (depending on which marketing model your business uses), marketing knows A LOT about building and maintaining relationships online, which words and phrases are impactful, which topics pique interests, and how to tell a story. And they know it all about the exact people you’re selling to.
Work to create an internal infrastructure where marketing delivers intel along with the leads, either through monthly / quarterly “town halls” or through some sort of internal, dynamic document (a Google Doc works great).
Ultimately, these processes won’t fix everything if there are bigger problems at work — terrible contact data, inexperienced lead gen, or a lack of cohesion across your team — but if you’re firing on all cylinders and looking to take your org to the next level of productivity, a focus on relationships is where you need to look. By working with marketing to create a buyer-focused, relationship-based sales process, it’s much easier to show prospects the true value of what you’re offering.