Challenge: Building a Team to Build Your Sales Funnel
Companies hire sales reps frequently based on their ability to manage the sales process and close business. In fact, it’s rare to find sales reps equally adept at prospecting as they are at closing. Even those who can do both well find it difficult to manage their time between these two activities because the pressure is focused on selling. The result is spikes in sales productivity as sales reps move their focus between prospecting and selling.
In many cases, the solution is to hire lead development reps who work focus exclusively on marketing program leads in an attempt to qualify new sales opportunities for their sales reps. I have seen two different successful models of hiring lead development reps. The first is to hire the more rare individuals who have made a career out of lead qualification. These people typically enjoy the hunt, the task of sorting thru large numbers of leads to find those that will qualify and turn into real sales opportunities. They have familiarity with marketing and sales automation systems, know how to build lists, understand how to manage their time, have an appreciation for the larger sales process, can navigate organizations, etc. However, they are more difficult to find AND they are much more expensive. The benefit is that they can quickly deploy and ramp up without much supervision. These individuals are ideal in very early stage ventures because they can learn/adjust and then teach others in the organization, and they can be co-located with their sales reps or even deployed in remote locations. They are easy to identify by their resume background – but there are fewer of these reps overall.
The alternative is to hire more junior talent and provide the necessary training and support. In most cases, you are hiring the personality because the individual has less work experience. Typically, I like to see someone who is somewhat competitive, has held a sales role (e.g., mortgage brokerage, internet service provider sales, commercial real estate) and is a great communicator. This type of rep will need much more daily guidance in the form of joint calling sessions, feedback from sales reps on lead quality, technology solution training, sales channel education, and more. However, in the right environment, a company can build a pipeline of these reps to serve as a feeder for their sales reps so there is a consistent flow of talent into the company and up the sales ranks.
Lesson: There’s more than one way to build a lead qualification team – it just takes a consistent and thoughtful approach.