How to Build a Solid Sales Machine (Part I)

By Brad Stevens, CEO of Whiter Image LLC and an EO Atlanta member

Many have journeyed down this road who have numerous tales of strife and challenges that riddle it along the way; staff turnover, data quality issues, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software challenges, defining compensation plans, finding solid management to name just a few. However it doesn’t have to be a nightmare with the proper game plan and strategy in place.

I started studying sales models and insights from them resulted in an effective strategy that delivers higher profits, scalability, and predictability! It has taken numerous overhauls and tweaks but we finally got there. In no particular order, these are the first four key areas that I found to be the most critical for building an effective inside sales organization.

Role Definition

You must delegate roles. A single sales representative does not need to be charged with lead generation, appointment setting, closing initial sales, and nurturing current customers. Divide the team into “New Client Acquisition” to focus on hunting and closing new business and “Account Managers” to educate and build relationships with current customers to drive reorders and upsell new products. Next, establish internal or outsourced appointment setters for both of these divisions so that they can maximize their time on closing and not hunting down and qualifying leads. I found that the more we could have individuals focusing on specific tasks, the better their performance.

Staff Selection & Compensation

While there is no real magic solution to finding the “right” staff, make sure to be very critical. As we all know dealing with turnover is very costly. We are always extremely up front about the role and make sure they are the right fit with a very structured interview process and we always check references. Be aware that the behavioral and personality profile of an effective appointment setter, new business closer, and account manager are very different. Make sure you are benchmarking to your industry with an aggressive compensation plan. I wish I had learned this earlier. You get what you pay for and it is worth paying for quality talent because it will absolutely pay off.

Management

We found that the best managers know how to effectively balance two equally important roles. First they must be a motivator, coach and leader who is respected by the team. Motivation and inspiration is CRITICAL to maintaining a performing sales staff. Second, they must be able to hold staff accountable to results and activity. In phone sales, activity is critical. We found that having a manager with one skill set and not the other failed every time.

Measurement

As Peter Drucker once said, it must be measured to be managed. We have a full daily statistics package for management to review the phone activity (time and number of calls) and sales performance by dollars to determine where each staff is for the month and what must be achieved each day to trend toward achieving the sales goal. We found that daily focus is too short and monthly focus is too far out. We treat each week like a mini-month and manage towards helping staff achieve their monthly goals, one week at a time

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