For most senior management teams at expansion-stage companies, launching an outbound prospecting team is very exciting (More touch points! Greater pipeline! more revenue ! Wahoo!), yet very overwhelming. There are so many moving pieces, and maintaining this type of team is a HUGE investment of time and money. Hopefully, OpenView Labs’ content for launching successful lead qual teams can help your expansion-stage business not only start thinking about the right things and planning/executing accordingly, but beyond that also find comfort in the fact that SIMPLICITY IS KEY. Stop trying to over-complicate matters!
With that said, SIMPLE also has to be SMART. Taking out the clutter to make things simple requires some brain power. Here are seven places to start.
Training/Onboarding: Please, please, PLEASE do not let your most technical product-oriented employees play a major role in training sessions. It’s completely unnecessary, and very un-simple. In week 1, lead qualifiers should not be learning about your software’s most intricate details or about the roadmap that your developers have in store. ACK! While I totally get the need for everyone thinking “big picture,” focusing too much on product-talk, rather than training lead qualifiers on the value proposition, pains, and solutions, is a huge distraction, not to mention downright misleading. What is the LAST thing that lead qualifiers should be discussing on an initial prospecting call? Features and benefits. Keep training simple and focused on what’s most important in order for the new hires to be successful in their new roles.
Value Proposition: A crystal clear value proposition is one of the most important tools in a prospector’s kit. If it’s too complicated, not only is your lead qualifier going to be confused, they are going to confuse the hell out of those individuals that they are connecting with over the phone. The more relevant and simple the value proposition is, the greater the pipeline and the shorter the sales cycle. End of story.
Conversation Guide: I’ve made a stink about this in previous posts, however I’m very comfortable with saying it over and over again — throw out the scripts! Simplify with a conversation guide. A conversation guide is a one-page document that highlights key points you’d like your callers to touch upon when they’ve got a prospect live: intro, value prop, pains, gains, qualifying questions, and wrap up/next step suggestions. That’s it! Let your individual prospectors fill in the gaps with their own words — simple, right? Again, as long as it’s smart, you are golden.
Hand-off Processes: Field reps are busy, busy, so this point is a little different from the rest in that your lead qualifiers should also be making things VERY simple for the reps they are supporting. Streamline things for your lead qual by laying out the hand-off processes in the form of a checklist. Simplify the appointment setting for your field reps by making sure they have all their notes logged in sf.com, a follow up task set in sf.com, and a calendar invite with all details from the initial conversation along with the prospect’s contact information. The more complicated you make it for the field rep to prepare and take the call that your lead qual are setting up for him/her, the less likely the appointment will occur.
CRM: Is your sf.com jam-packed with dozens of random lead fields that your sales team isn’t even using any more? Do you have 53 different lead statuses? Do you have overlapping reasons for leads being unqualified/nurtured? Do you have overlapping activity types? Clutter in your CRM leads to confusion, which leads to lead qual and field reps using the tool differently, and incorrectly. Before you launch a lead qual team simply clean it up.
Daily Structure: An email coming in, an email going out, a call going out, an email response sent, a prospect calls in, a call to a new prospect — now multiply this x10. Sound like a typical morning for a lead qualifier? This type of activity is chaotic and inefficient. So as the manager, what can you do? Help your team simplify! I’m not saying don’t encourage many calls or emails. I’m saying encourage grouping all like-activities together in chunks of time. If your reps are constantly having to change their mindset throughout the day, and be reactive rather than proactive, frustration will be high and productivity will be low. Create a model day for success for your team, and coach everyone to plan their days accordingly. Oh, and turn off Outlook during prime outbound prospecting times!
End-of-Week Retrospective: Any portfolio company that OpenView Labs has supported in launching a lead qualification team is quite familiar with these two words: retrospectives and impediments. A retrospective is an end-of-week meeting where the whole lead qual team comes together to discuss the week: what went well, what didn’t go well/impediments, how those impediments can be resolved best, and what is the action plan for next week. Simple right? It’s simple because the meeting has structure, and things that are typically swept under the run can be brought to light and resolved in an open and accepting environment. Following an end of week retrospective meeting, I encourage managers to send out a weekly update report with the SAME format. Not only do these reports help get everything out of your and your team’s heads and into the open, they are also really helpful for planning purposes and creating visibility for those who are so invested in seeing the lead qual team succeed. Thirty minutes — that’s all this report takes. Keep it simple — only the highest priority items that went well, need to be resolved, or need to be focused on the following week. If all stakeholders have visibility into your team’s week, and it’s buttoned-up and focused, they will be confident in your management efforts. That will also allow them to simplify — by not having to worry about what the heck is going on, and whether their investment was in fact worth it!
How have you found ways to simplify your outbound prospecting efforts in order to improve efficiency? Please share!