So you’ve hired a lead generating cold caller for your expansion stage business — a young, savvy inside sales rep who is solely responsible for making outbound calls to engage with new prospects in your target segment and ultimately find qualified leads for your sales team.
Within 3-6 months (depending on how advanced your sales strategies are — aka do you have your target segment completely defined, a concrete value proposition and content to support the effort?), you should have a pretty good idea as to this individual’s capabilities, and if they are actually contributing to your sales team’s success or they are just treading water.
Here’s the catch: The best lead qualifiers don’t want to be lead qualifiers forever. They want to be sales reps. They have a gift for captivating prospects’ over the phone, and sooner or later, this individual is going to get to a point where they think to themselves, “I don’t want to pass along this lead — I want to close it myself!” Oh, and on top of gaining confidence in their abilities, they are also going to want to make more money.
Look at it from this perspective: there is no better training for a sales rep than to be in the role of a cold calling lead generator when starting off. More junior reps can learn about the target customer, the selling methodology, the product itself, etc, and they wont’ have the pressure of a monetary quota hanging over their head.
OpenView Labs, the strategic consulting services arm of the OpenView Venture Partners, has supported many of our portfolio companies lead generation systems. Here are some strategies for keeping your Cold Calling Lead Generators motivated and on the path to success:
- Make your time-line clear from Day 1.When you are interviewing candidates, tell them right off the bat there is the potential to move into a sales role, but that they would need to be comfortable with being in this role for at least _____ (fill in the blank – 6 month, a year, 2 years?). It’s up to you, but if you are upfront with this person from the get-go about their time line, it will keep them in check, but also it will indicate that there is hope for moving forward. If you think it would take longer than a year for this person to be promoted to a closer — don’t hire them.
- Frequent bonuses. Give your reps a bonus every quarter based on the number qualified opportunities that are presented to the sales team, and also an additional incentive for those opportunities that actually close. Additionally, set short term goals for your lead qualifier (or competitions if you have more than one rep) and reward them with small prizes — free lunch, giftcard, leave-an-hour-early pass for example.
- Constant appreciation. Cold calling is tough. It takes diligence and thick skin — but even those with the thickest of the thick can get run down, particularly when their team is not showing support or appreciation. Make sure that your sales team understands their value, acts on all of the opportunities that are given to them, and also give the lead generator a pat on the back every so often. Sounds corny, but it’s one thing if your prospects aren’t giving you the time of day — it’s another if your team/manager is ignoring your efforts.
- Ongoing recruitment for the back-fill. When it gets to the point where your lead generator is kicking butt and ready to become a closer, you want to be ready with his/her replacement immediately — not 2 months later. Always keep a job description up for a Lead Generator on your website, and any recruiting sites that you typically use… Let your Lead Generator know that they have nothing to fear — and that if they continue to show progress, this person will be the replacement when he/she is promoted. Make clear that this is not an automatic — that they will have to continue show results in their current role — but that you have big growth plans for the team, and you are aware of (and appreciate) their career goals.