Developing a Learning Culture

3 Ways to Give Your Sales Force a Boost That You’ve Been Neglecting

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Look up articles on sales training and you’ll be fairly inundated with thousands of ideas on perfecting the art of communication, learning to connect with others, and how to close the deal. But if that’s all you’re focusing on in your sales training content, you’re really only covering half the story that will bring success to your sales force.

As the Sales Operations Analyst for eLearning Mind, I’ve seen my fair share of sales articles. But learning soft skills, while important, won’t be enough to create a competent, excellent sales force. I’ve found that the majority of training never accounts for the operations and technology side of things. Sure, it offers fewer fuzzy feelings, but in today’s tech-driven world, organizations need to embrace tech as a way to increase sales, improve sourcing, and produce a well-rounded, tech-savvy sales force. Here are just three areas most training forgets.

1. Micro and Macro Lead Sourcing

All good salespeople understand how vital leads are to the business, but lead sourcing can be a little less exciting. Macro lead sourcing is only part of the process for finding leads despite being a highly important function of sales.

Here’s what I mean: At ELM, macro lead sourcing is covered for our team with a software called Zen Prospect. It gives us a handle on a wide range of leads within our industry. It’s a broad overlook at the organizations and the general executives that will get our foot in the door. But micro lead sourcing dials into the various people and titles at a company. Instead of assuming that all companies give the same titles to their HR employees, we take a closer look at leads on a micro level. A company might call their HR manager a “People Success Manager” instead. If we’re only looking at leads through a macro lens, we could have missed a promising prospect.

You should partner targeted lead sourcing with those sales professionals that are trained to look a little deeper. Not all company cultures are created equally and it takes both a broad and laser-like focus to prospect the sales gems for your sales force.

2. Embracing the Art of Delayed Gratification

The lead email sequence usually goes something like this: You send out an email and ask for a meeting to get a yes, a no, or a lack of response completely. In fact, you’ll probably find that the majority don’t respond at all, since 60 to 70 percent of first interactions don’t really go anywhere.

It’s tempting to create a first interaction email with a complete rundown of who you are and what you want, but what about practicing the art of delayed gratification in order to procure better quality responses? Instead of filling that first email in the sequence with information all about you, your products, and your services, instead consider asking more about the potential customer and their goals. By waiting to talk about yourself and hopefully close the deal, you use that email campaign to better connect and establish a relationship with someone that will truly remember you after the email is closer.

Drawing out the sequence might take longer than usual, but whether it’s two months or two years down the road, that lead will remember the connection they made with you, which can lead to a closed sale when they need you the most.

3. Data integrity 

Here’s the thing: You only notice the quality of your data when it starts to negatively affect your bottom line. It’s true that CRMs like Salesforce can store massive amounts of data, but the data usually comes from a variety of different sources–something that isn’t always clear.

Your sales force’s end game is to use data to lead to more clients, more closed deals, and greater revenue growth. Accomplishing those goals means finding a way to make data more uniform so it’s easier to analyze and extract the right information. The easiest way to do this? Find a way to categorize data so it makes sense for your industry so you can set up your lead capture to automatically label and store data accordingly. By understanding how algorithms work and using them to label leads and generate reports, you can more easily store pertinent data.

Of course, it’s important to keep detailed records to make this data categorization really work for you. Everything from phone conversations to lead conversions should be recorded so you can improve the integrity of your data overall. Leads should also have checkpoints throughout their lifespan so you can use each client’s “story” to paint a bigger picture of things like client behavior, the stages of each sale, and lead time to a sale. Through being armed with this data you will have a chance to hone in on messaging, tweak your actions, and evolve the sales process so it’s more finely tuned to success.

Working in sales doesn’t just mean developing the right scripts and email campaigns. Someone with great sales instincts might be comfortable going it alone, but we’ve found that tech is a super-efficient way to streamline the sales process so that it’s faster, friendlier, and more likely to lead to a sale. You need to know when you reach out, how to reach out, and who you’re reaching out to. Don’t neglect the tech and operations side of sales, or you could be missing out on a bigger piece of the pie.