Why We Love Sales Lead Development

Updated: Apr 5, 2018

If you're a Sales Director or General Manager of Sales/Marketing and researched "Missed Quota" an incredible 666,000 results will come up in Google. Delve a little deeper and there is a range of statistics that run through many of these threads; 50%-67% of your sales people will miss their yearly quota! You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand how that's going to end. 

Armed with this insightful information many B2B organisations hire MORE Sales Reps in the hope of reaching their number...really, I'm not making this up. With headcount increasing so the budget increases and a pressure cooker scenario develops for each Sales Rep to win more new customers with a requirement to multi-task their time more effectively across prospecting for leads, closing new business and managing existing client expectations. How realistic is this considering the customer buying process has become so much more complicated to navigate?

Turn the tables for a moment and sit in the chair of the new customer your Sales Rep has just signed up. What kind of on-boarding experience will they have of your company when that same Sales Rep now focuses their attention on winning their next new customer?  As your Sales Rep juggles their time ineffectively across prospecting for new leads, winning new customers and managing accounts, your hard won new customer is likely to give your business a 3/10 instead of a 10/10 for their on-boarding experience. If you want to keep hold of that new customer you're going to need a 10/10 otherwise they will vote with their feet and more than likely look for a better or more competent supplier.

This only exacerbates your situation when your hard won new customers leave adding further pressure on your sale team to bring in more new customers. It's a vicious merry go round you need to get off and quickly if you want to keep hold of your customers and your sales team. So what change can you implement that will make a positive impact to your new potential customers and sales team?

To tackle these challenges most of you will have a Hunter/Farmer sales structure splitting the role of new business development from customer account success. The fundamental role of the Hunter is to prospect for their own leads, engaging potential customers throughout their buyer journey and to subsequently develop this opportunity into a new customer win and then pass over to an Account Executive (Farmer). The Farmer will take over managing the on-boarding and subsequent development of this new account into a future champion for your business.

This level of specialisation worked well 5-10 years ago when your Sales Rep still had most of the answers and the customer was reliant upon them to make an informed choice about what and who to buy from. But, times have changed, the power of choice is now in the hands of your customer with easy access to information from multiple sources reducing that reliance on your sales team.  With this change in buyer behaviour caused by a proliferation of technology a genuine weakness has been exposed in the Hunter/Farmer business model.

The Hunter model has been exposed as a role too broad to be truly effective anymore across your sales organisation for new customer prospecting. With the proliferation of technology and much of the buyers journey migrating beyond their control the demand to engage prospective customers earlier in that buying process is critical through social channels like LinkedIn for example. This has added a significant burden on prospecting for opportunities across multiple channels and engaging prospects at multiple stages of their buyer journey. 

To add fuel to the fire a B2B decision making process has gone from 1 or 2 people 10 years ago to 5-8+ people currently. This is placing extraordinary pressure on your sales hunters to get out there and prospect at scale to be able to effectively engage multiples of decision makers within a single organisation in addition to qualifying and closing opportunities in their pipeline.

The result of this change in the buyer landscape is that many of your sales teams are missing quota because they have failed to adapt to the changing environment around them and their company has failed to support them in this change or failed to acknowledge that the landscape is changing around their sales teams.

They are in a word becoming extinct. Their efforts nullified. Your sales team are losing too many customer races to your competitors who have learned to be more nimble, more agile and more open to changing to a different strategy to bring in those coveted new customers.

To get ahead of the game or to even get into the game and engage these large decision making units a further level of sales team specialisation is required. While the proliferation of technology has enabled your customers to take the decision making power away from your sales team it has also spawned a smorgasbord of solutions that has enabled the creation of specialist Sales Development teams as well as an advanced sales capability for your sales team like social selling.

The role of Sales Development front ends your hunt team with the specific role of identifying, prospecting, engaging, qualifying and allocating qualified accounts to your hunt team as effectively and efficiently as possible for them to develop into pipeline opportunities. The advent of the Sales Development team working in close harmony with a well defined sales and marketing strategy and backed by an awesome technology stack to help enable their strategy is allowing your Hunt team to purely focus on winning new business subsequently taking your company to new heights.

This is a skill set you can coach and develop them to excel at with tightly measured objectives. Multi-tasking no longer becomes a requirement (or excuse anymore) taking the pressure away from your team and giving them a crystal clear goal - win new business. With a singular goal now in place you have the ability to hold all sales accountable to the same new business objective across the organisation.

To enable this level of sales specialisation your sales team structure should include the following 4 core teams with a well defined lead management process from prospect through to customer on-boarding and renewal:

  1. Outbound Sales Development - Outbound Account Prospecting & Qualification

  2. Inbound Sales Development - Inbound Account Qualification

  3. Business Development - New Business Acquisition (Hunter)

  4. Account Manager - Customer On-Boarding & Success (Farmer)

The sales structure I develop for clients outlined below is a well defined one established by Aaron Ross who was able to develop a highly specialised sales structure at Salesforce.com and wrote about it extensively in Predictable Revenue.

So before you decide to increase the size of your sales team to reach those growing targets take a look at your current customer buyer journey. What path do they take, how do they purchase, where do they go to find information, what are their challenges at each stage. If you overlay this process to your current sales structure ask yourself this question - am I asking my team to do too much? 

If you can see that your sales team are simply spread too thin then the answer is clear; change is required, you need to get back into the game, roll up your sleeves and evaluate your options. Sales specialisation is here and it's something that you should embrace, we do because your sales structure should be a process of continuous improvement, without constant evolutionary change you simple cease to be relevant, so start loving sales specialisation and start hitting your sales quota and embrace change.

The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change. --Bill Clinton

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