There is no single job inside of a company that is more customer facing, has more risk, more glory and more downside, than Sales. They also take more shit than any other employee. The tension has much less to do with performance than it does with the human connection.
I’ve got to be honest. I’ll take landing pages over salespeople any day. They work 24/7, don’t complain, and I can deploy thousands at once. However, that approach only works with low MRR, SaaS offerings.
If you’re also responsible for Enterprise Lead Gen then the approach, and the attitude, need to be very different.
When doing Lead Gen, the job is to deliver a warm body that has more than a modicum of interest in buying the product. To that end we have an arsenal of tools at our disposal, arguably, the most important being content, account based marketing, and automated lead nurturing systems.
Done right, we should see APPH (average productivity per headcount) rise, along with ADS (average deal size) and MRR (monthly recurring revenue), and a reduction churn.
That’s a high bar to achieve when there are so many variables outside of your control, with the largest variable being the individual salesperson. No matter how tight your relationship is with the head of sales, tension still exists.
In most cases, all of those core metrics don’t move in the same direction. For example, average productivity could remain flat to down, MRR may rise, and churn will likely be flat. In this scenario, the monthly recurring revenue is rising but more revenue is also walking out the door, aka “churn.”
At that point, sales may waive the “shitty lead quality flag” and wants you to do something about it….now.
Whatever you do, don’t get confrontational. First, listen to the sales team, and listen closely.
Take a step back and remember, they eat what they kill, so have some empathy.
Next, and there are a few different ways to look at this, but in general, review all the prior month’s closed/won deals and look for any material changes in average deal size, sales cycle, company type, etc.
Then trace each deal back to the first click. You should know if they are following the most common click path to becoming a qualified lead, and if there is a change in lead behavior. Once you’ve done the pragmatic work, show the information to the sales team and talk openly about what you’re seeing.
Now, the most important part, ask them what they are hearing. You’re trying to get at the intangibles that you’re not seeing in the data. And most importantly, you’re listening.
You’re showing that you have skin in the game and that you both want what’s best. This is not the time to use the data to prove who’s right and who’s wrong. Nothing will be accomplished if you walk out the victor because your data proves their productivity is down.
All that’s going to happen is they will dig in their heels and put it back on you to improve lead quality or quantity.
The best thing you can do is strive to be effective, not right.
For arguments sake, lets say the data is correct and that sales productivity is an issue. If you leave the conversation there, you’re not focused on the right outcome. The right outcome is to be effective. This is when you go all in.
Perhaps, some of the sales team couldn’t attend a sales training; schedule one for them. Maybe they don’t fully understand the most recent product update; grab the product team and do demos. Or just maybe a few of them just had a shitty month; take the sales team out for dinner and drinks, and don’t talk about work, just have an amazing time.
The “be effective” approach tends to catch on and spread throughout the company. Or at least you better hope so because at some point your lead quality is going to suck, and you’re going to hear about it. In that moment, you’ll want the sales team to step up and go all in to help you and your team. And you know what, they will.
Once you’ve shown that you truly care about their outcome and their issues, they’ll chew through concrete to help you too.
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