If you had to sell without a sales force could you do it? What if you had to get rid of your entire sales team? Could you make selling work? I have seen businesses with older mindsets that seem to be addicted to headcount as a metric more than results. Owners or VP of Sales that get comfort from how many people they employ rather than having a sound strategy are pretty common.
This is not a call to eliminate the sales function or people. It is a spotlight on strategy and doing what makes sense. We don’t like being sold, yet we all buy. We buy via a process of education and building trust from a distance that is more convenient than in times past. We have less reliance on a relationship with a salesperson for understanding an industry and value proposition. You can position with this information online today. You can get found this way via search and social media.
The follow-up of unready buyers or nurturing semi-ready prospects via marketing automation can be less disruptive and empowering for someone thinking through the buying options you offer. They can think through the issues for buying what you have to offer without feeling pressure or interruption.
Much of the selling can be self-service and transformed into a buying process. So where does this leave you with headcount, a very intensive and expensive part of a sales process? Consider the following issues:
- Closes per month. Are you considering closing 10 deals a month or a thousand? Work backwards. This is going to be largely a function of your inbound marketing effectiveness. Think through time. How much sales time is required for the number of closes? If it is 10 deals at a couple of hours per deal, then you need about 20 man hours, less than a headcount.
- Key events. What is the key event a salesperson fulfills? Is it a weekly follow-up call? Is it a product demo or consultation? Their activities can be set up around this. If other items can be automated in a personalized way, then think through setting up systems that would deliver a high and timely service to prospects in lieu of manual calling and emailing to get to the main event.
- Conversion points. The stages of your sales process should have defined indicators. As buyers move through each stage, their status can be changed in your CRM system. Identify what causes the movement from one sales stage to another in the sales process. There should be logical areas for salespeople to focus on. Integrate the use of the tools and process you have identified that will help them move leads through conversion. Then cut out cycle times accordingly. There should be efficiency gains.
If you challenge yourself to do more with less, constraints have a beautiful way of forcing efficiency into our business operations. This, in turn, can increase profitability and lower costs while improving the customer experience.
Going with tradition just because it worked last decade is a waning strategy in light of the opportunities of today.
So, what can this thinking do for you?