Today's guest post is by Neha Singh Gohil, director of knowledge management at Prialto.
This post originally appeared on the Prialto blog http://blog.prialto.com/quality-v-quantity-on-a-sales-team/ and is used here with permission.
How many salespeople does your company need?
The precise number depends on the size of the company, your product, and a dozen other variables. But having worked with a variety of sales teams over the years, we’ve noticed a consistent pattern across companies. Often, sales managers who feel their team getting overwhelmed turn to new hires as a knee-jerk solution.
Bringing on a new person entails time spent on a recruitment strategy and lots of money spent on salary, benefits, and the like. In most of these cases, we’ve found an easier solution. Rather than focus on the number of sales reps on board, why not increase the amount of time they spend on selling?
Sales managers tend to treat their best sales reps like generalists. Though they’re hired to sell, sales reps are asked to spend many hours a week entering data into CRM systems, creating sales-performance presentations, or compiling their expenses. Time spent crunching data is taking away from time spent selling the product.
The situation is akin to asking your product engineer to draw up your sales deck. Yes, the engineer knows the product and its purpose but is unlikely to have the sales skills that your reps already use. And pitching isn’t why you hired an engineer. Similarly, data crunching isn’t why you hired your sales reps.
If you stop treating sales reps like generalists, then you can get a lot more out of a lot fewer salespeople. Sales-development folks have a very specific set of soft skills. Here’s how you should be using them:
- Presenting: Generating sales decks, portfolio pitches, case studies, etc.
- Relationship building: Nurturing contacts and carrying them through the sales process
- Pitching: Making qualification calls, introducing the product to new leads and identifying the right targets
- Leading a prospect to close: Homing in on real opportunities and getting prospects what they need to make the purchase
This expertise is not easily quantified, and the “tasks” are often ongoing or difficult to complete in a set period of time. Maybe that’s why so many sales managers seek to fill in reps’ so-called slow times with a variety of other tasks. These often include tasks that require hard, quantifiable skills and fail to capitalize on a salesperson’s core competencies.
If your sales team seems understaffed, try cutting out these tasks from your salespeople’s schedules:
- Entering and updating meeting data in a CRM system
- Lead prospecting
- Sending email blasts
- Compiling expense spreadsheets for particular accounts
- Playing email ping-pong to schedule sales meetings
Off-loading these administrative hassles will not only free up your sales reps to sell but will likely boost their morale and motivation, too.