How many salespeople does your company need?
Of course, 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. Very 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. Instead of focusing on the number of sales reps you have 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 CRMs, creating sales performance presentations or compiling their expenses. Time spent crunching data is taking away from time spent on 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 them like generalists and expecting them to take care of everything themselves, 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 what you should be using them for.
- Presentations: Sales decks, pitch portfolios, case studies, etc.
- Relationship-building: Nurturing contacts and carrying them through the sales process
- Pitching: Make qualification calls, introducing new leads to the product and identifying the right targets
- Leading a prospect to close: Honing in on real opportunities and getting them 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 time period. Maybe that’s why so many sales managers seek to fill in what looks like “slow times” for sales reps with a variety of other tasks. These often include tasks that require hard, quantifiable skills, which completely 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
- Lead prospecting
- Sending Salesforce email blasts
- Compiling expense spreadsheets for particular accounts
- Playing email ping pong to schedule sales meetings
Offloading these administrative hassles will not only free up your sales reps to sell, but will likely boost their morale and motivation, too.