How to Improve Prospecting Productivity
Yesterday we kicked off a prospecting training program for a VAR sales team with eight reps and a sales manager. During the kickoff we always ask the sales reps what metrics they want to hold themselves accountable to, and where they feel they’ll be most challenged.
The sales reps gave the usual metrics: number of prospecting calls made, connections achieved, new appointments set, and new opportunities entering the sales pipeline. But when answering where they’re most challenged, the answers deviated from what we typically hear.
This team has attended prospecting webinars we’ve done before, and they know it takes nine to 11 prospecting touches to get a contact to respond. So when asked what challenges they anticipate, their responses stemmed from awareness of the prospecting strategy they should be using, but no idea how to manage it.
Although the company has a customer relationship management (CRM) application, its sales reps aren’t using it. They’re attempting to manage their prospecting strategy on paper, in Microsoft Outlook and from memory. They see their CRM as a glorified phone book and a place to occasionally take a few notes.
Successful prospecting requires discipline of process. To manage that process, sales reps must use the right tools, namely their CRM. If reps aren’t, not only do you lose visibility of their prospecting activities, but their productivity drops as they try to manage an ever-increasing number of leads. Suspects slip through the cracks. Warm prospects are dropped inadvertently.
That’s what we discovered yesterday is happening with this VAR’s sales team. They don’t have their prospecting follow-up activities automated in any way. Reps are feeling disorganized and flustered as they attempt to follow up with prospects consistently over many weeks.
When you require your sales teams to prospect consistently each week, as the sales manager of this VAR’s sales team does, suddenly the problem escalates and prospecting productivity drops. There is no choice but to have the sales team use the CRM.
Many sales managers want to give their sales reps the freedom to choose how they’ll manage their prospecting follow-up and opportunities. But, just as your technical staff needs tools and processes to do their job, so do your sales reps. You might think it’s intuitive, but for many sales reps, it is not. And that’s when you see the decline in leads and the increase in what appears to be wasted time.
Get your sales reps involved with your CRM and you’ll see a dramatic improvement in their productivity. When a team of VAR sales reps we were coaching started inputting their prospecting follow-up activities in their CRM, their opportunity pipeline jumped from less than their monthly quota to 4.8 times their monthly quota. Within two months their closed sales jumped from below monthly quota to 100 percent of quota.
Sales reps won’t necessarily like using a CRM. But once they experience the value of it in improved productivity and increased commissions, they’ll be on board. Add CRM prospecting discipline to your sales force and you’ll realize not only increased productivity, but also increased sales.