Posted on: April 16, 2015
Looking to clone your top sales person? You’re not crazy. As advanced personalization capabilities and unprecedented customer data sets converge at affordable investment points, this dream becomes increasingly realistic.
I’m often surprised by the hesitation of B2B sales and marketing executives to invest in marketing automation, customer engagement, personalization and content management solutions. I was recently talking with a private equity-backed company that hired 100 new sales representatives yet was hesitant to invest in enhancing the technology that would create and nurture the opportunities these new representatives were hired to close.
In my experience the technology has gotten so good it’s almost possible to clone the intuition of your top sales and marketing team members. Imagine if the top 10% of your sales team was 50% more efficient, bringing their unique abilities to bear on a deal where it mattered most, while the technology continued to nurture the perception that your company has the best solution.
Might the above company have hired 25 sales people instead of 100 and perhaps achieved a better result? Assuming fully loaded compensation for each of the hires averaged $125,000, the reduction of 75 people equates to a $9 million per year reduction in overhead.
Putting this concept to the test
So how might a company go about testing this concept before hiring an army of sales people?
Step 1: Segment your customers based on size, industry, closing rate, budget, etc.
Step 2: Prioritize those customer segments as they align to your sales and marketing plan.
Step 3: Launch quantitative and qualitative research to illuminate the buying cycle through the customer’s eyes. What resources do they trust? Why are they choosing you or your competitors? What role is online research playing in that decision?
Step 4: Segment your top performing sales team members and understand what makes them successful using the above data as part of the exercise.
Step 5: Gather the resources your research shows customers use to make decisions in your respective field and rank them in terms of audience trust.
Step 6: Map the buying cycle for each segment based on your research and map their trusted resources to each stage or touch point within the buying cycle
Step 7: Socialize your buyers’ journeys with the mapped resources to get feedback from existing clients as well as your sales and marketing team.
Step 8: Develop a RACI chart (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Influencer), mapping people and technology to tasks and touch points.
Step 9: Take the RACI chart and draft requirements for the elements you believe might be automated and then adjust your new sales job description accordingly. This is the optimal time to evaluate staffing in the context of the tasks you have been able to offload to technology. Multiply the reduced staffing requirements by the fully loaded cost of the relevant roles, and you will likely have a potent ROI story.
Step 10: Select your technology and move forward with the implementation, paying close attention to the analytics you must track to prove the ROI.
In today’s always-connected world people make decisions differently. Winning companies are embracing this reality by listening to their customers, understanding how they are making decisions, and adjusting their business strategy accordingly. Throttling up a sales team is no longer the only option to dramatically scale a business and grow market share. Think of a Navy Seal strike team vs. calling the infantry.
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