Chances are that your sales reps aren’t spending enough time on the phone with customers. Simply put, it’s hard to hit a home run when you’re stuck in the dugout. The more time that inside sales reps spend on calls, the more opportunities they’ll have to close deals. But sales processes often include blockers that keep reps from stepping up to the plate. According to CSO Insights, only 41% of sales reps time is spent selling. That time is often consumed by activities like customer research, creating collateral and entering data into their CRMs manually. But with the right tools and strategies, these sales processes can be optimized to help sales reps spend more time doing what they really want to do: close deals.
A Bridge Group Study showed that inside sales jobs and career demand is up 54%. While there is no exact substitute for an in-person connection, phone-based sales might offer your business better overall ROI. Eliminating factors like travel time can help reps spend more time having sales conversations. Sure, there might be occasions when it is best to meet with prospects or customers face-to-face, but it is becoming more common to handle key meetings over the telephone or using video conferencing tools. For example, in my experience, working in sales as well as marketing on the agency side, I have had years-long relationships with customers that I have never met in person.
Sales is all about building relationships and connections with leads, and the right data can enhance these connections. Customer data is everywhere: online, in your CRM and on social media sites. The social web can offer a lot of valuable insight to reps. For example, if I know that a prospect just took a trip to the Bahamas from her Facebook feed, or if I can tell from LinkedIn that she just was promoted, I can use that data to help me during sales calls. But the fact is, acquiring this data is often time-consuming. So much so that some sales reps and managers are hesitant to integrate social media research into their sales processes for fear that it would take too much time away from selling.
This is a conundrum, since social data can be used to improve sales ROI. The challenge is how to make prospect data useful in context. According to a CSO Insights report, sales reps spend 24% of their time researching to prepare for sales calls. But the right listening tools can greatly reduce the amount of time spent researching customers. We designed our sales applications to quickly empower reps to view prospects’ data from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce.com and more within the context of a call. Reps can now view all their customer data in aggregate before outbound sales calls, or anytime the phone rings.
At many organizations, there is a permeating belief that Marketing doesn’t understand Sales’ needs. Marketers spend hours creating fancy decks, whitepapers and videos, but around 90% of this collateral is never used by sales reps. It’s not that sales reps don’t need collateral – in fact, salespeople spend around 30 hours each month searching for and creating their own selling materials. Obviously this indicates a need for sales and marketing managers to spend more time communicating in order to determine which sales materials reps actually need. Tools like Salesforce Content can play a powerful role in the sales and marketing alignment process. For example, marketers can see which materials sales reps are downloading ,and which materials contribute to sales.
Taking notes can be an important part of sales. Don Cooper’s Sales Heretic blog lists some smart ways that notetaking can help boost sales. But many sales reps spend too much time taking notes. One way that a salesperson can continue to improve is to recognize which details are worth remembering and which are less relevant. Imagine you’re selling enterprise marketing automation software. It might seem important at the time that a prospect’s daughter’s favorite movie is Dumbo, but this detail might not be as relevant as the fact that he’s unhappy with his current solution’s feature set.
But sometimes, small details can be important. Suppose you close that deal and your CEO is invited to the prospect’s daughter’s birthday. That tidbit about Dumbo might just come in handy. As a best practice, we recommend that sales reps limit their note taking to the most relevant bits of information, but also record important calls to keep a record of more minute details. Revenue.io makes it easy for sales reps to take notes in the app, and then automatically append those notes to their call record in Salesforce.com. We also make it easy to record calls and save them to customer records in Salesforce.com.
When I was working in inside sales, I would have to log every detail manually in our CRM. This took a lot of time and eventually my manager determined that keeping records of this data didn’t offer good ROI because of the time it took to get it in the CRM. Entering sales data in a CRM tool like Salesforce.com is either something that sales reps hate because it takes time away from selling, or something that sales reps simply don’t do, for the same reason. Revenue.io’s mobile apps sync with Salesforce.com and automatically log activities in the CRM. That way, sales managers get the call data they while allowing inside sales reps to spend more time selling.
The most important part of sales process optimization is measuring whether your tactics are yielding results. Monitoring metrics like calls-per-day or how may hours reps spend on the phone each day can help managers to know whether new strategies or optimization tools are having the desired effect. If you are able to integrate call metrics into Salesforce.com, you can also gain access to revenue metrics and see how changes to the sales process are affecting the bottom line.
Jesse WestDirector of Lifecycle MarketingringDNA
Jesse Davis West is Director of Lifecycle Marketing at ringDNA, focusing on improving the experience and maximizing the lifetime value for customers across their entire journey. Drawing on 9 years of B2B marketing experience, Jesse is passionate about communication, branding and strategic marketing. He also plays a mean lead guitar and can throw down at karaoke.