How to achieve more leads and more sales in these challenging times
Sales are becoming even more challenging as uncertainty creeps into the economy, companies cut costs and new tech solutions come under rigorous scrutiny. Sales development representatives (SDRs) bear a heavy responsibility in this regard. How can they convert marketing leads into new customers more easily?
Selling doesn't come easy for everyone. But the ValueSelling sales training for the SDRs of the Fortino portfolio companies shows there's a method for creating more leads, customers and turnover today. This article explains some key elements of the method.
Structure: a challenge for every SDR
Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) are essential in every sales team. They're responsible for identifying and qualifying potential customers. Their challenge is to make sure the sales funnel is abundantly filled. And that's not straightforward for every B2B SaaS start-up and scale-up.
What are some of the problems SDRs struggle with? Sometimes their companies lack brand awareness. They often have to compete against large, established companies. “I pitch our solution too soon. I'm now learning that I push too hard when my prospect is not ready,” says one. And every start-up or scale-up naturally wants more potential customers in the marketing funnel.
ValueSelling instructors PJ Nisbet and Bart van Eijck tackle these difficulties in a structured way. “Structure is indeed essential in a sales process,” says PJ. “The ProspectingPrompt quadrant which is key to our method underlines that you need to dive into your lead's problem first. Subsequently, you can add value. In the third step, you find out where the decision-makers are to whom you can present your solution. And only then do you present your product.”
“When you get the right information to the right people, you increase the volume in your pipeline,” says Bart. “To do this, focus on your lead's priorities. What is the lead's biggest problem? What solution do they have in mind? Many sales people start pitching their solution too soon.”
And the pitching process can often be improved too. Learn from the tips in the article How to sell your product to the C-suite. 5 pitching tips for start-ups and scale-ups.
Speeding up your sales cycle
It sounds like a long way around for some SDRs: “Whereas I actually want to speed up my sales cycle. And land deals more efficiently.” Her concerns seem to contradict the sales method, but that’s not actually the case. “Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up,” Bart explains. He's referring to taking your time to work out a sales method, drawing up extensive lists of companies and contacts, planning the right sales cadence. With this process you provide multiple touchpoints through emails, phone calls, meetings and social media.
“Select 30 people,” advises PJ. “You call and email them according to your schedule. You reach them through valuable posts on social media. You share, even if you don't get an immediate response. Persevere. Remember that only 3% are ready to buy (see graph) and that it takes up to 15 contact moments in about 4 weeks to connect with a prospect. SDRs who make 12 or more attempts perform 20% better than SDRs who stop after 8 attempts.”
The slogan that should be hanging above every sales desk according to the instructors: “Success is not owned… It's rented and the rent is due everyday!”
People buy from people… particularly in these digital times
The human approach is crucial. Automation can be a tool, but no more than that. PJ says, “We all know LinkedIn, email and phonebots that go through our contacts and automatically send messages, hundreds at a time. That era is really coming to an end. A network built in this way is worthless. Personalisation is a must nowadays. Of course, you can let the right sales tools help you do it.”
Bart adds, “SaaS companies are also selling increasingly bigger tickets, of 50K, 100K, 250K or more. Buyers spending that much money expect a high level of personalisation. Products and services can run in the cloud. By contrast, sales have to be human. People buy from people. That remains fundamental.”
Sales tips! Actions that drive high sales results
All SDRs took some action points back to their B2B SaaS companies, for example: “I'm throwing my fear of cold calling overboard and scheduling a weekly phone block.” Another already started rewriting their prospecting emails: “They have to be targeted to my prospects' needs and more importantly be shorter. Bart and PJ advise a maximum of 200 words because 53% of all emails are opened on a smartphone.”
To conclude the sales training, each SDR made a point of writing down the following six tips that can lead to an abundantly filled funnel and shorter sales cycles:
6 sales tips for a filled funnel
- Improve your prospecting documents and your telephone call and email templates.
- Optimise the subject line of emails with the Email Subject line Grader.
- Plan at least one recurrent weekly telephone hour. Call as many people as possible during this hour.
- Set yourself a target, for example 20 new potential customers and 40 follow-ups a week.
- Review and improve your profile on LinkedIn.
- Analyse the sales results regularly and adjust your sales strategy.
Which action fills your sales funnel more abundantly now?