If you’ve read my blog for the last few years, you probably understand how I feel about outbound prospecting by now. If you’re new to our site, however, let me quickly explain where I’m coming from: Outbound prospecting is a critical component of a modern sales engine. It can fill your pipeline with highly qualified, actionable leads, improve your close rate significantly, and create much stronger marketing and sales alignment (along with many other benefits).
But this article isn’t just another argument for outbound prospecting. Instead, it’s an argument for a review process that can make your newly minted lead gen team better.
When you first build an outbound prospecting operation, it’s critical for managers to have daily check-in meetings, a thorough end-of-week retrospective, weekly one-on-ones with lead gen reps, and, ultimately, monthly review sessions that cover activity, progress, goals, strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
And while that might sound like meeting overkill, executing all of them is important for several reasons:
- A regular meeting rhythm ensures that every rep is focused on a specific set of activities and isn’t progressively developing any bad habits.
- More frequent reviews allow you to check each rep’s pulse and gauge their progress, proactively stepping in to help before a rep becomes discouraged or disenchanted.
- Daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly reviews encourage transparency, removing the element of surprise when something goes wrong.
It’s during the first three months on the job that reps tend to be particularly malleable and prone to bad habits, especially if they go unaddressed. And if you don’t monitor their activity, motivation, happiness, and productivity (and discuss all of that information with them), how can you know if the problems they’re having are self-inflicted or due to some corporate or program-specific shortcoming?
That’s why instituting a 30, 60, and 90-day review process is so critical to long-term success, even if those meetings seem redundant. Think of them as one-on-one checkpoints that build on the information gathered during daily and weekly meetings. Ultimately, nothing you discuss should be surprising, but the information you gather will provide important insight into reps’ activities, performance, and future potential.
What Each Meeting Should Cover
The structure for each monthly review meeting should be roughly the same, but the topics may change slightly as your reps encounter new problems or face different challenges.
Again, these should be one-on-one meetings and should begin with a review of each rep’s Salesforce.com activity level, conversions, and messaging data collection. The idea is to examine the conversations they’ve had over the last 30-day interval and try to calculate positive and negative trends.
Additionally, each meeting should involve:
- Strengths and weaknesses: As a manager, it’s important to make yourself vulnerable in this step. If a rep is struggling, don’t instantly assume that it’s something they’re doing wrong. Ask them if there are any external or internal issues that are contributing to their weaknesses, or if you could be doing anything to improve their efficiency. Work together to design an action plan to address the rep’s weaknesses and commit to making any realistic changes you can to make their job easier.
- Conversion rates and activity levels: How many appointments did each rep set? How many quality conversations did they have? Did they adhere to specific call and messaging criteria? How many calls were placed or emails sent?
- Lead quality: Bring the sales rep who works most closely with the lead gen rep into the meeting to discuss the quality of leads being delivered and what might be done to improve them.
- Customer profiling: Ask the rep to explain each of your company’s buyer personas and identify the value proposition that applies to each one.
- Role playing: Act out some common objections or pain points and give reps feedback after they address each one.
At the end of the day, these reviews are about creating a sense of accountability — both for your reps and yourself. If you lay everything out on the table, establish crystal clear expectations, and document everything then you remove any room for making excuses when something goes wrong.
Outbound prospecting can be a very expensive form of marketing, largely because you’re paying your reps’ salaries and buying technology to support them. If you do it well, the return on that investment can be significant, but only if you’re hiring and developing reps who are highly productive.
Which is why conducting frequent reviews — even if they seem redundant — is so important. It will help you separate the studs from the duds, and that delineation can be the difference between outbound prospecting success and failure.