Traditionally, sales is all about the hustle. Sales professionals learn early in their careers that if they want to make good money, they need to contact as many people as possible. This ethos causes many sales pros to remain on the phone all day long, dialing one number after the next – if they aren’t visiting leads in person. And, to be sure, there is something to be said for making a lot of contacts when you want to close deals.
But is this approach faulty? Could you actually improve sales performance by asking your sales reps to slow things down a bit and take a more strategic approach? In this article, we’ll look at how a more thoughtful approach to sales can help your organization overall.
Quantity and Quality Don’t Align
It’s easy to think that maximizing the number of contacts your sales reps make in a given day will automatically lead to more revenue. After all, if your team converts 10% of sales calls, and each rep calls 100 people instead of 50, that would mean 10 new deals instead of 5. That looks great on paper, but the real world is far more complicated.
Specifically, you shouldn’t assume that your sales reps will maintain a steady conversion rate as you increase their call volume. More calls means spending less time with each lead, which means they can’t nurture prospects along the process in the same way. Ultimately, it’s quite likely your call conversion rate will drop when you focus only on volume.
So, What’s the Goal?
One of the reasons that call volume has been valued for so long in the sales world is that it is easy to measure. It’s simple enough to count up calls throughout the day, so managers have no trouble evaluating their teams on that metric. Sure, it might be a bit lazy, but it’s better than nothing.
If we are to leave call volume behind as a metric of sales performance, we will need to refocus on a new goal. Consider setting the new goal as building as many quality relationships as possible with potential leads. Of course, it’s much harder to measure something like quality relationships than it is to measure call volume, but that’s the price you pay for progress. Developing a meaningful, ongoing relationship with the person on the other end of the phone is going to be more valuable to the business than just dialing as many numbers as possible day after day.
Building a Strong Foundation
It would be great to build a solid relationship with the decision-maker in an organization right off the bat. That doesn’t usually happen, however. In most cases, your sales reps need to work through one or more levels of “gatekeepers” before getting the decision-maker on the phone.
And that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay – it’s an opportunity. If you encourage your reps to engage with the gatekeeper and build a relationship with that person, they can create an ally within the organization. This will not only make it easier to get in front of the decision-maker at some point, but it will also help your rep close the deal in the end. Gatekeepers are used to salespeople trying to get around them as quickly as possible – stand out by engaging them in conversation and respecting their time and attention.
Don’t Let Anything Slide
Each conversation with an individual inside a target organization is an opportunity to learn. Whether they have positive feedback on critical comments, remind your reps that they can learn and grow from their words. This is why taking notes is so important. Don’t let their words disappear into thin air – ask your sales reps to capture them in their notes and use them to improve your company as a whole.
Maybe there is a certain feature the prospect wishes your product included but is not currently available. Or maybe there is something about the timing of the sales pitch that doesn’t line up with their needs. Whatever the case may be, this information is valuable and might apply to other leads. All notes should be recorded in a CRM so they can be used by the entire sales team.
Ask Questions and Value the Answers
This point goes right along with the previous point on taking notes. Your leads may have a lot to say about your product or service and how it aligns with their needs – but they might not say it until your sales rep asks. So, make sure your sales team always asks. And, when they do ask, remind them to keep an open mind and listen to the answers.
Sometimes, you will have an answer to their question that encourages them to do business with you. Even if that isn’t the case, the dialogue created will make it possible to improve your sales pitch or your product to better serve others. Salespeople tend to like to talk, and sometimes will find themselves dominating the conversation. By opening the line and allowing the lead to speak, you never know what you might learn.
Be a Person!
Finally, one of the best ways to improve sales performance is to instruct your sales team to present themselves as a real human with emotions, personality, friends and family, and more. This does not mean becoming best friends with each prospect, but simply being real can go a long way in an increasingly digital world.
One easy way to connect in a more real and meaningful way is to send video instead of an email. With modern technology, it’s easy to record a quick video and send it off to your contact in another organization. This will help the prospect or customer feel like they know you, and some of the message may come across better on video than it would over the phone or in written form. Ultimately, the change here is about shifting sales from a high-volume, robotic process to one where relationships are built and (hopefully) deals are closed.
Matt Buchanan is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. He has 15+ years of expertise in local lead generation, sales, search engine marketing, and building and executing growth strategies.