Webinar: How to Make Your Sales Organization More Efficient 

By: Phil Stern  |  November 2, 2021

In a fast-growing business, it’s not enough for your sales team to be effective at selling. They also need to be productive, making the most of their time and integrating strategically across the organization. To offer guidance on how to make your sales team more efficient, Mainsail’s Phil Stern hosted a webinar with Esther Friend, VP of Sales Efficiency and Transformation at Five9.

At Five9, Esther is charged with improving the company’s Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy and scaling sales processes and tools to achieve growth.

Below are our key takeaways from the webinar. You can also watch the full webinar HERE.

Build a go-to-market strategy

No matter the size or maturity of your sales team, your first priority should be developing a GTM strategy, as this can be the foundation that underpins your entire business structure. Avoid hiring for headcount until you have a clear GTM strategy in place.

To build your GTM strategy, evaluate your target market then define processes that will help your sales organization run efficiently. Specifically, consider the following:

1. Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): vertical, company size and technographic fit

Even if you know your ICP (or ICPs) will change over time, define it from the start so you can be confident your sales team’s time is being spent productively following the right leads. Define which verticals best resonate with your product. Are you targeting small, mid-market or enterprise organizations? What level and variety of technology is your ideal customer using (Are they primarily cloud-based or on-premise? What CRM do they use?) and what integrates best with your product?

By defining your ICP up front, your sales team can create use cases for each customer persona, and more effectively determine whether they are reaching out to, and following up with, the right leads.  This is as much about defining who your team should not be selling to as it is who they should be selling.

To determine if you’re reaching the right audience, review contact, conversion and retention rates by vertical, as well as customer profitability. If your metrics don’t make sense for your business plan (i.e., a customer requires heavier lift or isn’t retainable or profitable), adjust accordingly. Filter out leads that aren’t fitting your ICP, and let Marketing know what is and isn’t working.

2. Align with marketing

Create a feedback loop between Sales and Marketing so Marketing can be confident they are putting their efforts into fruitful leads and sending the right messaging. Share customer anecdotes and KPIs between the two teams, including calls-to-meeting metrics, so Marketing knows who to target.

By tracking and reacting to these metrics, you can eliminate leads that aren’t a fit, saving time and money, and enabling Marketing and Sales to focus on productive leads.

3. Document sales motion and rules of engagement

You can always define and reiterate sales motion over time but documenting a plan out of the gate can be beneficial. If you’re not careful, you can end up with multiple sales reps contacting the same customers, which looks sloppy. To avoid this, ensure sales reps know who owns which processes and accounts. Set clear rules of engagement. Be organized.

Define benchmarks and metrics

Once your GTM strategy is set, create a metrics-focused culture that helps improve conversions and empowers your reps to be more productive.

One of the most important metric to track and improve is the time-to-call metric. It’s best practice for your reps to call back a lead within 5 minutes. Wait 24 hours and you will almost certainly lose that lead. Nail this metric, and you’ll dramatically improve your conversion rates.

Other universally important metrics to track are calls-to-meeting data and the number of calls, meetings, and emails per day, month and quarter. From these, you can fine-tune your ICP to reallocate marketing dollars and avoid team frustration, as everyone will be targeting better leads.

Finally, track close rates and win/loss metrics. Most importantly, understand every step in your sales process and funnel so you can spot friction points, optimize processes, and increase conversion. As you gather this data, revisit your GTM strategy regularly, and adjust as necessary.

Complete a time study on your sales team

As a leader, you can protect your team’s time and ensure their success by better understanding how your reps actually spend their time each day. To do this, complete a time and motion study for your team. Audit calendars. Speak with, and shadow your reps. Learn what onerous admin processes, for example, are consuming valuable time that could be better spent talking to potential customers. Can you standardize CRM processes or create content templates for your team? If you have a small team or limited resources, think about what tools, skillsets or employees you should be adding next.  If you have a larger team, think about what additional functions and resources are needed to make the team more efficient, including Business Development (BDR) teams or a Sales Enablement function.

Implement best practice workflow via tools

If your systems and data points aren’t working in your favor, it’s time to clean them up (e.g., removing unnecessary CRM fields) and reconsider how your tools integrate. Tools should save your team time, be easy to adopt and provide accurate data that can be audited regularly.

One of the most effective way to implement best practice workflows is to have them all defined within the tools your team uses so that everyone, including new hires, knows exactly what to do, when.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. An SFDC/CRM to track sales stages, provide guidance for success, and host reference documents.
  2. Automated capture of all vital information in your CRM, such as activities and contacts. With it, you’ll see how reps are communicating and when, as well as what files they’re sending – meaning your reps don’t waste time adding this data manually.
  3. A prescribed sales process and clarity around value selling.
  4. Documented proven methodologies that increase conversion and have many touchpoints on different types of channels (emails, chat, phone).
  5. Productivity and cadence tools. (e.g. sales acceleration tools like Outreach.io or Salesloft or revenue intelligence tools like Gong.io or Chorus.ai)

With these tools in place, your reps will be streamlined and efficient, your data more valuable, and your conversion rates higher.

Introduce sales enablement early

How easy are you making it for your reps to be successful? Are you hosting weekly stand-ups to share anecdotes and identify which messages are working for your target market? Do you have templates to share with messaging that ensures your reps communicate a consistent value prop to leads?

A critical element of Sales Enablement is creating content (webinars, case studies, repeatable use cases and other resources) for your sales team so they can drive home your business value. For content to be successful, your customer should be central to each story. Use data to pull out nuggets that can arm your sales team and differentiate your product, especially against competitors. Additionally, implement win reviews and battle cards.

Also—don’t tackle Sales Enablement solo. It will take on many forms and formats—and require help from other departments—to develop curriculum that can best empower your reps.

Create a coaching culture via leadership

Remember how you implemented time studies for your sales team? Now it’s time to do so for your leaders. Around 10-15% of a leader’s time should be spent on casual interactions with the team, and at least 50% should be dedicated to coaching reps.

When coaching, implement KPIs for sales reps’ performance and make sure these KPIs reinforce productivity benchmarks and your ICP. This will help reps focus on performing the right tasks and right leads.

Supporting your business model

Everything you do to optimize your sales reps’ processes should also support your GTM strategy, especially as it adapts and your product evolves.

You may eventually have a larger influx of leads, so defining an ICP early will ensure you gain the right leads, segments and even employees. Measuring and analyzing data will direct you in how to streamline and organize your business, as well as the team’s workloads, and making sure leadership is available for coaching will create a collaborative, customer-centric business.

Phil is a Operating Principal at Mainsail Partners. He leads the firm’s Center of Excellence for Sales and is responsible for helping Mainsail’s portfolio companies optimize their growth strategies and deploy sales practices.
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