So, you got your compensation structure right and have hired a couple of good sales people (and maybe my July article even helped you do it). Congratulations! Now I truly hope you have organized a sales operations infrastructure and have metrics in place, so you can keep your sales people out of BS and help them move their leads through the funnel.
Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, we hire sales people before thinking about how to best support them. We expect them to “make it rain” on their first day, but since we have enough other problems on our minds, we only start worrying once the sales team starts causing revolts. It seems like sales operations has always needed at least some help in every company I have joined.
So, let’s roll up our sleeves and go over the list of basics of what we will need. Some of you may protest and say that simple tools like paper notebooks, Excel, or even a sales person’s memory is enough. I wish this was true myself, but it does not scale. So here we go:
First and foremost, don’t assume your sales people (even those who were top producers before) will sell your product like hotcakes, if you have not armed them with enough product knowledge:
You wouldn’t have your accountant run your finances using an abacus, so don’t force your team to use a legal pad – build them the right CRM for the job:
Step 1 – choice of CRM
Step 2 – customization and capability enhancements
Step 3 – once you have monthly budget of $3K+, you can spend on services to minimize “wear and tear” on your sales and marketing folks
OK, we got them selling, made their life a bit easier, organized them, and got them working on getting their leads through the sales funnel.
Step 2c (c for Crucial) – measurement
You can’t run your company on purely your gut, anecdotal observations, and “perception”. Companies that measure well, do well. Mantra here is qualitative over quantitative. It makes marketing feel good that they nearly killed the server with all the traffic and thousands of leads that came in from a free e-book, but I can’t pay their salaries with that, I need paying customers. If you deployed a decent CRM (like Salesforce.com), creating KPIs and running different reports is not that hard.
The top 4 KPIs you should immediately put in:
Now I realize this is a lot of “stuff” to deal with, and it usually takes about a year or two to get all of these tools, KPIs, and processes going. But it is worth it! The companies who do it right are the ones you see growing even in lean times.
UPDATE 12/11/2012: I have recently come across a Cambridge, MA startup InsightSquared that would have saved me a lot of hours developing and deploying performance metrics in Salesforce.com (they also work with other CRMs). For extremely reasonable subscription (way less than what your time costs) you get incredible capabilities not available in Salesforce.com.