In many manufacturing companies it’s not unusual for a single salesperson to make a salary of $50,000 to $100,000 plus auto, benefits, and the possibility of extra commission or bonus income. Because salespeople are the engine that fulfills the demand created by your industrial marketing programs many of them are more than worth every cent they are paid. If you really want to increase sales productivity you need to read on.
While the following is anecdotal (and by no means a scientific survey), I would venture to say that at least 90% of salespeople really enjoy selling. By selling I mean actually speaking with a qualified prospect, gaining information, giving information, and closing the sale. It’s a thrill for salespeople when it all comes together.
Most salespeople I talk to tell me if all they did was go to qualified selling appointments they would be ultra-productive quota-smashing machines. I believe that is true. In speaking with many salespeople in various industrial marketing consulting projects I have undertaken I have realized something else that is true.
The vast majority of salespeople I meet do not enjoy (or strongly dislike) all of the activities that lead up to the actual selling appointment. They especially don’t like prospecting and qualifying and avoid it like the plague. To reiterate, salespeople like selling. They realize that prospecting and qualifying are a necessary means to an end, but a means they would rather avoid. It’s a vicious circle, if salespeople are prospecting and qualifying they aren’t selling or vice versa. In addition there are countless opportunities being missed and there are peaks and valleys in your revenues.
More importantly, have you ever calculated how little time your salespeople actually spend selling? They are expensive administrators, prospectors, and qualification staff!
If you want to increase sales productivity in your company you must specialize all of your sales functions. While this is not exactly a new practice I am amazed at how little-known it is in the manufacturing industry.
The best place to start is to separate sales development from field sales. In effect you create a second tier of inside salespeople usually called sales development representatives (SDRs).
The function of SDRs is to contact and rigorously qualify sales leads and turn over the best-qualified leads to your field sales people. In some cases they may actually schedule qualified selling appointments for your field salespeople.
Generally speaking, SDRs work with inbound sales leads or proactively generate qualified sales leads using outbound marketing techniques. Where it gets exciting (and extremely profitable) is when you have outbound SDRs who are reaching out and generating properly qualified leads with highly-targeted accounts and transferring them to your field salespeople.
This kind of sales specialization will allow you to increase sales productivity in a dramatic and profitable fashion. Once you have a documented and measurable outbound sales development process you can create predictable and scalable growth in your manufacturing company, almost at will. You will be able to forecast sales with startling accuracy. In addition it’s not too hard to imagine how easy this would make your life in production, finance, and HR.
Best of all, using outbound SDRs for your sales development activities allows your highly-paid field salespeople to focus on what they love to do and do best which is sell, sell, sell. Increase sales productivity, create happy salespeople, grow your revenues in a predictable fashion. What’s not to like?
I have experience in creating inside sales teams using the sales development representative model. It will rapidly increase your sales force productivity. If you think your company could benefit from this approach contact me and we’ll talk.