LevelEleven is a sales performance platform that helps you increase the capacity of your sales team. We launched in late 2012 as a sales gamification app and then found out our customers needed a heck of a lot more. So we let their greatest sales pain points evolve into an entire performance platform.
In today’s digital age, many sales reps stick to what they know; using email, social media, and even texts to prospect and converse with potential customers. The days of cold calling have been left behind, and leaving a sales call voicemail? Not a chance. Although technology has opened new channels of communication, don’t forget about the power of phone calls and voicemails.
I can hear the objections already, “Even if I leave a voicemail I never hear back!” Just as the great Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. You can cold call all day but if you don’t leave a voicemail, you’re guaranteed a 0% response rate. In fact, certain studies show that well-crafted voicemails can improve response rates anywhere from 3 percent to 22 percent (source).
InsideSales.com recent research shows that 32 percent of respondents use email as a preferred method to communicate with prospects and only 6 percent of sales reps use a single call and voicemail in their sales cadence.
Yes, cold calling and voicemails may seem like a thing of the past but it’s important to think about where your message will stand out more — mixed in with hundreds of other sales emails or alongside the 6 percent of reps who’ve left a voicemail? One study shows that 57 percent of people who receive a cold email think it is spam without even opening it, and the average office worker gets 121 emails a day. It’s time to master the art of the voicemail and get your prospect’s attention with our carefully curated sales voicemail tips below!
Keep it under 30 seconds
There are many articles out there claiming to know the perfect voicemail length but the truth is there is no solid research backing those claims. As a rule of thumb, try and keep your messages under 30 seconds. Leaving something too short can cause a prospect to think it was a misdial, while a message over 30 seconds is expected to be a pitch and thus ignored. Keeping your message around 30 seconds allows you to add value, leave contact information, and leave them wanting more without boring them.
Clearly state your value proposition
Although the real reason you’re calling is to make a sale, a voicemail is not the place to do so. The goal of a sales call voicemail is to get a call back which won’t happen unless you give them a reason to. Instead of talking about how great your product is, provide specific business applications and success metrics. This value statement is the hook that catches a prospect’s interest and makes them eager to learn more.
Repeat your contact information
This seems simple but is often forgotten. Repeating your contact information allows the prospect to note the information without having to replay the message. As a rep, you should always want to make things as easy as possible for your prospects, so think of repeating your information as a courtesy to them.
Don’t start with your name and title
A successful voicemail stands out to your prospect. Almost every sales call voicemail I have received starts with, “Hi my name is John Smith from ABC company…”. This not only blends in with every other sales voicemail, it can also potentially set you up for disaster. Many people will hear this sentence and have either heard of your company and have preconceived notions or they haven’t heard of you and therefore don’t care. Instead, start with stating the reason for your call, adding in a value proposition, and finishing with your name and contact information.
Speak calmly and slowly in your normal voice
We get it, cold calling can be nerve-wracking and leaving voicemails can cause you to freeze like a deer in the headlights. Avoid this by preparing your pitch beforehand so you know what to say even when you’re flustered. Make a concentrated effort to speak slower and in an even tone (often your voice will change in times of stress). Additionally, salespeople are often trained to speak in an excited tone, resulting in an unnaturally high pitched voice. Sales voicemails that get callbacks will sound casual and authentic, like you’re speaking with an old friend.
When keeping busy with texts, emails, and LinkedIn messages, it’s easy to make the mistake of letting phone calls and voicemails fall by the wayside. Voicemails are a crucial tool in a salesperson’s toolkit and should therefore be included in a rep’s overall contact strategy. Even if a prospect doesn’t call back, the combination of voicemails, emails, and messages can build brand recognition and familiarity with a prospect, resulting in more deals closed.
The burning question that countless sales managers face: How do we keep remote employees engaged and motivated? There are many factors that may drive you or your company to hire remote employees. Skilled employees are located all over the world where telecommuting may be the only option. According to a report by Gartner, companies see a 10% increase in employee retention by providing the opportunity to work remotely.
Unfortunately, the benefits of working remotely come with a fair amount of challenges including a lack of remote employee engagement and difficulty tracking behavior. The good news is, there are many actions you can take to keep your remote employees connected and driven no matter the distance. So, what can you do to keep remote workers engaged and focused on the behaviors that matter?
1. Set Goals:
When managing remote teams, effective goal setting can make or break the performance of your remote employees. Focus on creating both short and long time goals, involving employees throughout the process, and adapting goals as the environment changes. When your workforce is given tangible targets and objectives they must meet, they will have something to work towards, and better recognize areas that need work. This is one of the simplest ways to drive your team’s performance and engagement.
2. Create Competition:
Many people are inherently competitive, and all it may take is a few contests and some transparency into other’s team members’ performance to drive more action. Sales gamification is a great way to set up automated contests with visible scorecards, encouragement, and prizes to motivate and engage your remote teams.
3. Maintain Relationships:
With the technology we have access to today, distance is no longer an excuse for lack of communication. Hold one-on-ones regularly, build a rapport, and get to know employees both personally and professionally. You must have the desire to understand your remote employee’s needs and show that you care. Good relationships will go a long way in motivating your team and keeping employees connected.
With the right tools and the right leadership approach, you can be successful in managing your remote employees and guiding them to success. For more information on tools that can help you motivate remote workers through performance management, request a sales gamification demo below.
Did you know that according to a survey by the American Society for Training and Development, 75% of executives say that mentoring has been critical to their career development? Mentoring isn’t only good for personal benefit, it can also help coworkers and your organization as a whole. Mentoring is different than managing or coaching. It takes into account more than sales performance management and therefore complements sales coaching.
A study done by Bellevue University on Sun Microsystems found that mentors were promoted six times more often than those not in the program, while mentees were promoted five times more often than those not in the program. In addition, retention rates were much higher for mentees (72%) and mentors (69%) than for employees who did not participate in the mentoring program (49%).
Implementing a mentorship program can help your organization reap rewards in the form of improved employee retention and job performance: 71% of Fortune 500 companies initiate mentoring programs for their employees. When employees are challenged to learn and grow, they feel that management and mentors are invested in their success.
There are many reasons why becoming a mentor is important for personal career growth. Mentorship allows you to become a better leader, while networking with the next generation of leaders. On top of that, it’s gratifying to watch less experienced employees grow into their role. You can directly impact a mentee’s sense of his or her capabilities and strengthens that person’s loyalty to the company.
Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint, says it best, “[mentoring] doesn’t need to be an ongoing formal arrangement. I get around 30 new mentoring requests a week and pick the ones where I feel I can genuinely offer value.”
How to Mentor
What a mentor’s role supposed to include? Mentors pick up where managers leave off. They aren’t there to supervise and coach daily activities. Mentorship should be a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties where situations, skills, and experience can be shared.
Mentors should be willing to be open and honest about their experiences so their mentees can truly learn from them. Contrary to popular belief, a great mentor isn’t just the most successful individual in an organization. A good mentor needs to have the desire to help others and a willingness to reflect on their own experiences, including failures.
Looking to become a mentor? Here are a few tips to be the best mentor you can be.
Although you are the tenured employee, it’s important to listen to what your mentee has to say. You may know what to say and want to get straight to the point, but this is your mentee’s time to have a safe place to get their thoughts out where they won’t be judged. Listening to understand, not to reply is arguably one of the most important skills a mentor can have.
Give honest feedback
Having a fresh-faced employee looking up to you can be scary, you don’t want to hurt their feelings or set them on the wrong track. Although this is a valid concern, false platitudes or avoiding honest feedback will cause more trouble for your mentee in the long run. It’s important to establish an honest relationship fueled by open communication. As long as you’re respectful, honest feedback is a vital part of a less tenured employees’ journey towards success.
Let them make decisions
Going back to the importance of listening, you can even go a step further by letting your mentee make their own decisions. Although you may be tempted to tell them they’re doing something poorly (you’ve been there before and know better), it’s important to learn from one’s own mistakes. Help your mentee along the way with advice and experience but remember that they should learn from their own mistakes as well.
Foster mutual respect
A quote from John William Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, reads, ”If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.” This is the definition of what a successful mentorship should look like. If you’re participating in a mentorship program simply because it looks good on your resume or you feel like you have to, don’t. Mentorship should come from a willingness to help others develop their professional skills and progress in their careers.
Whatever it may look like, make time for mentoring as a complement to company performance management and coaching systems. It’s a small time commitment that can have a big impact on you and the next generation of leaders. For the love of sales, be a mentor!
According to HubSpot, “Sales and marketing are two business functions within an organization — they both impact lead generation and revenue. The term, sales, refers to all activities that lead to the selling of goods and services. And marketing is the process of getting people interested in the goods and services being sold.”
Although both functions have the same end goal, revenue growth, they are not always tightly aligned. In fact, a study done by Sirius Decisions found that B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three year period.
There is strength in numbers, aligning these two departments is crucial to overall business success and continued growth. The average prospect needs to touch five pieces of content and involve 6.8 different people before they’re ready to purchase. But only 20% of sales reps share content during the decision making the process and are often focused on a single person for their pursuit.
The problem is, at many organizations, there is a disconnect between these highly interdependent business functions, leading to the loss of prospects, revenue, and productivity.
Why this is happening?It starts with understanding the numbers.
When sales and marketing understand how marketing inquiries flow through the proverbial funnel to become marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, and eventually qualified deals and contracts, the teams have a common language and understanding of how each group contributes to the sale. How often do we hear “Sales is squandering our leads” from marketing. Or “these leads are terrible” from sales. It’s likely this is a siloed organization lacking sales and marketing alignment.
We also need a feedback loop.
Although sales and marketing are separate business functions, it’s crucial that they share the same targets and communicate effectively about their current projects and processes. Marketing departments are capable of making an array of materials to promote your brand. However, this means nothing if the sales team doesn’t find the content applicable to their current sales cycle and challenges. This can lead to situations such as…
Sales reps using old content or making their own that is off-brand and has incorrect messaging.
Marketing getting frustrated when confusing or incorrect messaging is influencing the marketplace.
Lack of cross-functional communication between sales and marketing will leave all parties feeling frustrated. No marketer wants to spend time making content that won’t be used, and no sales rep want to sift through a mound of irrelevant content while trying to add value for a prospect. Aligning these two functions is a companies best hope for success.
The bottom line? Both departments need to work together toward their common goal.
Here are three recommendations on ways to get your marketing and sales departments aligned with one another…
1. Be transparent about how the funnel flows
It’s not about finger-pointing. It’s about collaboration. When marketing sees conversion rates are low or dropping, they’ll naturally want to improve the quality of content and programs. When sales see the volume of leads, they’ll want to see what’s in that volume. And any lead is warmer than a cold call!
2. Communicate about what content is needed and what already exists
Although both sales and marketing functions revolve around effective communication with prospects and customers, communication between the two functions can improve. As a marketer, I’m often asked for specific content by the sales team to help them inform prospects and close deals. Usually, the things being asked for already exist. The issue is the sales team either doesn’t know where to find it, or that it exists at all. This is one reason why it’s important to empower your sales team to find the content that they’re looking for on their own. This not only gives back the marketing team their time, but it also allows the sales team to find what they need, quickly, and get on with their sale.
Making a concentrated effort to keep each other in the loop on current initiatives is a simple step that can go a long way towards improving the sales process. Companies with dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes had an average of 10% more of their salespeople on quota (CSO Insights). Some ways our marketing team at LevelEleven keeps sales in the loop is through:
A searchable content repository that is open and available to all
Marketing content calendars to inform the team of what’s coming
Weekly sales and marketing meetings for progress updates
Brainstorm sessions with the sales team to discover what content would be most beneficial
Guest blog posts by the sales team on topics they find relevant
An open door policy with the sales team, making them comfortable to offer suggestions whenever they think of them
When marketing works with sales to empower them to locate content on their own, the sales cycle will go smoother for everyone. In fact, a study done by MarketingProfs found that organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing had 36% higher customer retention rates and achieved 38% higher sales win rates.
3. Get to know each other and have fun
Often overlooked, cross-team bonding is another way to foster teamwork between sales and marketing. Although these functions are usually separate teams within an organization, positive relationships between departments can go a long way to align sales and marketing initiatives.
Team building builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration, resulting in more tightly aligned teams. Forrester Research found that aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% annual revenue growth while less aligned companies reported an average 7% decline in revenue. Cross-team bonding offers sales and marketing departments a jumping off point to build stronger relationships in and out of the office.
Although aligning your sales and marketing teams can seem like a challenge, it will go a long way to improve the quality or your team’s conversations with prospects and customers. When both functions are on the same page, marketing content will be created with prospects and customers in mind, and used to its fullest potential by sales, resulting in increased revenue for the organization, that can be tied back to the content itself.
Innovators make up 2.5% of the population. They’re willing to take risks and are the first to adopt new technologies.
Early Adopters make up 13.5% of the population. They’re not at the forefront of innovation, but they’re not far behind either. This group will influence the following groups to adopt new technology.
Early Majority make up 34% of the population. They have been exposed to the early adopter’s influence and soon follow suit.
Late Majority also make up 34% of the population. They are adopting the technology later than the average person and are often skeptical even then.
Laggards make up 16% of the population. These people have an aversion to change and are the last to adopt any new innovation, often waiting until they’re forced to do so.
Think of the iPhone which first emerged on the market in 2007. In the beginning, they were expensive and very different from the “norm”. Over the last 12 years, adoption has risen significantly and now it’s not uncommon to see an iPhone everywhere you look.
The point is, smartphones have seen near full adoption and have become the norm. In fact, you may even be reading this from a phone screen. We can’t imagine our lives without our phones in hand, this new technology is impossible to live without – even for laggards.
So why aren’t you utilizing sales technology? CRM is not enough. Just as smartphones have revolutionized how we communicate, sales technology allows us to bridge the gap between a CRM and a team’s daily activities. Don’t believe us? See how sales tech can improve processes within the different aspects of the sales landscape below.
According to G2 Crowd, “Sales intelligence software helps companies use internal and external data to increase sales and improve sales processes.” There is no use in having data if it’s bad data. In the times of data overload, sales intelligence software like LinkedIn Sales Navigator or ZoomInfo improve data quality.
According to G2 Crowd, “Sales engagement software streamlines the sales process through integrations with sales communication channels and tools, management of sales messaging and materials, and automation of tasks, messages, and workflows.” Technologies such as SalesLoft, Outreach, and DialSource allow sales teams to create personalized, automated sales journies and scale their activity at least tenfold
Sales Performance Management
According to G2 Crowd, “The purpose of sales performance management tools is to monitor sales progress to determine and recognize success, or proactively respond to processes and employees that need to improve.” Performance Management Systems such as LevelEleven help leaders of customer-facing teams drive the key behaviors that lead to increased productivity and results.
According to G2 Crowd, “Sales analytics software reports on CRM data to reveal sales insights and forecast future performance.” Business Intelligence (BI) tools like – Salesforce’s Sales Analytics or even Salesforce’s basic reporting and dashboards help teams and managers gain visibility into sales activities and get an idea of future sales numbers.
There are thousands of sales technologies out there, creating endless possibilities when building a tech stack. Using resources such as G2 Crowd or the Salesforce AppExchange is a great way to evaluate which tools would work best for your organization.
If you’re in sales, asking questions is a large part of your daily duties. Questions are arguably the most important tool in a salesperson’s arsenal. Asking questions in the right way can compel a prospect to act, open their mind to new possibilities, and even secure buy-in for the next step in the sales cycle.
But are all questions created equal? No. One of the most important things to consider when asking prospects’ questions is if you’re being assertive or aggressive.
The Difference Between Assertive & Aggressive Salespeople
Aggressive: According to HubSpot, aggressiveness is characterized as relentlessly pursuing your desired outcome while ignoring or attacking the opinions or desires of others.
Example Question: “This process will take less time if I speak directly to the manager. Who should I contact?”
Assertive: HubSpot defines being assertive involves pursuing a desired outcome or stating and standing by an opinion while still being mindful and respectful of the desired outcomes and opinions of others.
Example Question: “Which manager is assigned to this area?”
The key difference here begins with the length of the question. In general, longer questions come off more aggressive to prospects. The reasoning behind this is longer questions involve the speaker inserting their own context and intent, leaving the prospect little room to answer truthfully. Assertive questioning involves shorter questions that get right to the point, making the prospect more comfortable with answering however they like.
When starting to formulate questions, try sticking to the “one sentence rule” which forces you to cut out your own context and opinions and get straight to the point. Of course, after the initial question, you can then provide more context if the prospect asks
Don’t let the fear of aggression make you lose the sale
Although it’s important to avoid turning off a prospect with an aggressive attitude, don’t let the fear of doing so harm your pitch. Focusing too much on not being aggressive can lead reps to do the opposite and become passive with their prospects, resulting in the loss of a potential deal.
Passive questioning is ineffective because, instead of moving the process forward, it adds unnecessary steps by putting the ball in the prospects’ court. Passive questions to avoid are usually formulated around an open-ended question such as, “Give me a call when you make a decision.” This gives all the power to the prospect, which will most likely result in them going dark on you.
Tips to Practice Assertive Questioning
Before starting your journey into assertive selling, remember that the goal is to create an open discussion that will foster mutual understanding with a prospect. The better your understanding of a prospects’ pain points, the easier it is to help the decision-making process along. Some tips to remember while practicing assertive selling skills include:
Firmly state your opinions without attacking the prospects’
Allow a prospect to share their ideas and thoughts without interruption
State your understanding of what was communicated to confirm what you heard instead of accusing and judging
Set expectations early by starting with “hard” questions from the beginning
Accept the answers you get even if you don’t like them, take no gracefully
Don’t let the fear of coming off aggressive stop you from being assertive enough to get the sale. According to Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, the challenge in a sales situation is to gauge the correct level of assertiveness that’s most likely to move the sale forward, without slipping into an aggressive stance that might cause the prospect to go dark.
There is a fine line between assertiveness and aggression. The manner in which you ask questions is just one aspect. With practice, any salesperson can master the art of assertiveness and close more deals!
LevelEleven is here to help bring your team’s performance to the next level! Request a free, personalized demo today to see how we can help motivate and coach your team towards success!
According to a survey conducted by CSO Insights, 80% of employees are not actively engaged at work.
Shocking? Maybe. True? Definitely. In fact, the same study found that organizations, where more than half of reps report feeling engaged, are nearly twice as likely to meet their quotas. In fact, the difference in quota achievement between engaged and disengaged teams is $1.3M annually.
Beyond lost revenue, disengaged employees can be doing more harm than you think. Teams that are actively disengaged are unhappy at work, which may even lead to destructive behavior like undermining projects. This is obviously a problem. The first step to resolving it is to address what causes your employees to be disengaged.
Unclear goals and systems
Nothing dulls engagement more than having no direction. “What am I supposed to do?” and “how do I do it?” are a cause of frustration for your team, causing them to “check out”. Making sure your employees have clear, measurable goals and an understanding of the behaviors required to achieve those goals. This will go a long way towards boosting engagement and in turn, productivity.
Lack of performance management
You may be conducting quarterly or yearly reviews but that is far from effective performance management. According to UC Berkeley, performance management is an ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee that occurs throughout the year, in support of accomplishing the strategic objectives of the organization. If your employees are less engaged, they may be lacking the reassurance, direction, and coaching provided by a performance management system or program.
Management by (only) numbers
Some sales leaders assign their team quotas and manage based upon spreadsheets and forecast reports. Although this may be “the way it’s always been”, it’s not the best method to boost engagement. Most sales reps are money-motivated, so quota makes sense. But as humans, we have other drivers, like competition and recognition. Create motivation to reach quotas and goals to keep your team engaged. This can be done via gamification of your sales process, contests between team members, a celebration of wins, and recognition of non-quota positive behaviors that lead to results.
Lack of meaningful measurement
Promotion to sales manager is a big accomplishment but it doesn’t mean your time on the front-line is over. Great sales managers will continue being present on the floor, showing reps that they’re invested in their work and available to help them grow and succeed. As a manager, it is important to know how each member of the team is doing at the behaviors that lead to the close – prospecting, new accounts, first meetings, demos, proposals, proposals, and whatever are the key behaviors at your company. A scorecard to know how each rep is pacing against these behaviors helps. One great way to stay on top of your team’s performance is through the usage of LevelEleven’s Manager Scorecard to track the team’s progress from one dashboard within Salesforce.com.
Although unengaged employees can seriously hinder your organization from reaching its goals, there are many little things a manager can do to ensure their team is fully engaged. Setting clear and measurable goals, providing extra motivation, and monitoring team performance are a few ways a manager can ensure organizational success.
If you ask sales managers their thoughts on the purpose of coaching, many will say they use it to correct negative behaviors via real-time feedback. This results in these types of situations:
A sales rep just finished a rather tough call. As soon as he hangs up, his manager comes up to his desk and says, “I think you’re doing a great job, but…[insert negative observation here]”
The sales manager walks away, feeling certain that their feedback has coached their rep and made a difference. The rep, on the other hand, has no input on how to change their behavior – just that they did something wrong.
This results in reps eventually reverting back to their original tactics, this time with the nagging feeling that their manager doesn’t think they’re doing a good job.
Sounds all too common? This method has been ruining reps’ confidence and falsely reassuring managers for far too long. This is not the desired outcome of coaching and points to a major problem in the sales world: feedback and coaching are being treated as equals. This is far from the truth! Coaching and feedback are very different and need to be treated as such.
Before we discuss the differences between feedback and coaching, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about the definitions of each.
Coaching: A formal process, utilizing one-on-one meetings to help salespeople achieve new levels of success. Coaching uncovers hidden issues that inhibit performance.
Feedback: information and reactions from sales managers, shared with salespeople regarding task performance. Used as a basis for improvement
Now that we’ve laid out the technical definitions, here are four specific areas where coaching and feedback should stand on their own as different teaching techniques.
1. Feedback is on the fly, Coaching is scheduled and structured
As illustrated in the above example, feedback should be reserved for in-the-moment conversations, correcting behaviors that are preventing a rep from reaching peak performance. These are quick conversations that should result in small, immediate adjustments by your reps.
Coaching, on the other hand, should be planned in advance and laser-focused on developing specific skills to help reps succeed and work toward reaching their professional goals. It can involve making long-term success plans and talking over what reps are doing well, and how they can continue to improve. These sessions should happen weekly and be prepared for by both parties.
2. Feedback is generalized, Coaching is personal
Feedback is not meant to be a personal attack on past performance. Instead, it is a small correction to something that managers hear on the floor, at the moment. The feedback loop can be applied to most reps on the floor, which is why it’s not problematic for feedback to be overheard by other members of your team.
Coaching is more personalized and focuses on specific strengths and ways they can improve their performance in the future. These sessions are usually behind closed doors and between the manager and individual rep. Coaching sessions give both parties a chance to have an honest discussion about what the rep thinks is and isn’t working, whether it be on a team, individual, or company level.
3. Feedback talks about what’s preventing reps from meeting their goals, Coaching talks about how reps can reach their goals.
Referring to our narrative above, feedback is instant and meant to correct small behaviors that may be preventing reps from reaching optimal performance. It could be something simple such as, “I heard your voicemail and I think [insert technique] could serve you better in the future.”
Coaching, on the other hand, should be focused on developing skills reps already have. Working to develop said skills will eventually help reps meet their professional goals. Each session should be tailored to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual. Coaching is not about addressing little issues overheard on the floor. Instead, it focuses on the bigger picture.
4. Feedback is about past and current behavior, Coaching is about future behavior
Because feedback an in-the-moment managerial activity, it’s not meant to be thought of as concrete advice to stick in the future. Because feedback can happen at any time, most reps won’t remember it in the long run. Although the feedback you’re giving your team could most likely be applied to future calls, don’t expect a 10-second conversation to translate into long-term, improved future performance.
Coaching sessions are focused on changing the reps future behaviors in ways that will help them reach their goals. The advice given surrounding a larger discussion during a coaching session are meant to help reps to perform stronger in the long run.
Both feedback and coaching are important to develop a sales team. There are vast differences between the two that must be understood before either can happen. A healthy mix of feedback on the fly plus structured coaching sessions is the best way to ensure peak performance from your entire team.
Looking for more ways to bring your coaching sessions to the next level? Check out our eBook, “7 Coaching Best Practices” for more ways to improve your coaching sessions!
According to a 2018 report by InsideSales, sales development representatives (SDRs) ramp time has increased by 5.8% from 2017…
going from an average of 4 months to 4.2 months. Inbound reps have an even harder time, with an average ramp time of 5 months. Although this difference isn’t shocking, it’s a trend that teams want to reverse.
Luckily, this study also uncovered the optimal ramp time: 3 months. Companies that reported a three month ramp time also reported the highest SDR quota attainment (68.5%). Respondents with ramp times longer or shorter than three months reported decreasing average attainment the further from three months they were.
The bottom line? Onboarding practices need to change if organizations wish to keep up with their competition. The earlier a new SDR is ramped, the faster they can begin making meaningful contributions to the team. To help get you (and your new hires) up to speed, we’ve gathered five tips to create an efficient and effective onboarding plan.
Set Expectations up Front
This is a simple step but, unfortunately, it’s often overlooked. We recommend giving your new rep a training schedule that covers at least their first two weeks. Dedicate their time to learning about your product or solution, your customers, competitors, and role-playing. Having a set agenda and measurable progress points ensures that the rep is on pace with their onboarding plan. It also allows managers to have an accurate idea of how a new SDR is progressing.
Beyond the first two weeks, it can be helpful to give your new hires longer-term onboarding documents as well. Here at LevelEleven, every new hire is given a 30-60-90 day onboarding plan that documents what they should be doing as well as milestone dates for those goals.
Create a Library of Resources
Even when a new SDR is hired, a manager still has a lot on their plate. Because of this, there are limited amounts of time a manager has to spend with a new rep which can slow down onboarding. To combat this, collect a library of the organizations and outside resources for your new hires to refer to and learn from throughout their first few weeks at your organization. This allows a new hire to be proactive and continue learning even when someone isn’t there teaching them.
Having a new hire wait around while you deal with your daily responsibilities is a sure fire way to slow your onboarding process. Allowing new hires to have ownership over their own onboarding and time makes them more independent in the long run while also using everyone’s time efficiently.
Implement Peer Mentoring Programs
Going back to the busy life of a manager, you won’t always have the chance to spend as much time with your new hires as you wish. Don’t let this slow your onboarding process down, use your team wisely! Your seasoned SDRs have first-hand experience and knowledge of the position that will be invaluable to new hires. Studies show that mentorship programs lead to increased salaries, quicker time to promotion, and higher retention rates. Use these programs to the benefit of new and veteran employees.
Utilize Performance Management
Set measurable performance goals for your new hire to help them get acclimated to their role. Start small with goals such as 50 dials a week and slowly ramp them up to the team goal of 100 dials a week as they continue through the onboarding process. This gives them meaningful work from day one as well as a goal to work towards. Onboarding periods can get overwhelming and seem to have no end, setting goals and working towards those allow reps to see exactly where they’re at in the process at all times.
Track these goals with a Performance Management System such as LevelEleven to take the manual reporting out of the equation. Use Channel11 to broadcast your contests and trigger splashes when your new hire hits their goals, building their excitement and creating valuable support from the team.
Start a Regular Coaching Cadence
Coaching is one of the single most important value building activities a manager can do with their reps. During a new hire’s onboarding time, coaching becomes even more crucial. Research from Xerox found that 87% of new skills are lost within a month of sales training. Without consistency, your coaching sessions and your onboarding plan will fall apart within months of your hire. Do yourself, your new hire, and your organization a favor by putting a regular coaching schedule in place from day one.
Although the onboarding process looks a little different for each individual rep, having a process set in place such as the one above helps ensure that every new team member is given the time, attention, and resources he or she needs to succeed in their role. Laying out expectations, leveraging organizational resources, and taking time to coach will go a long way towards reducing your onboarding time and making your team as productive as possible.
No matter how large or small your team is, every organization can benefit from automating their sales process. In fact, if your organization has any plans to expand and more effectively compete in your industry, automation should be a critical element of your plan. Companies using sales or marketing automation can expect a 53% higher conversion rate, resulting in 3.1% higher annualized revenue growth and 10% average increase in sales-pipeline contribution with automation (source).
But it goes deeper than increased revenue. Utilizing a performance management system such as LevelEleven also saves managers and team member’s time. In a study of sales teams done by Business Wire, 88 percent of respondents said they could benefit from tools that helped them save time. It’s no secret that sales teams have a lot on their plates, automating processes eliminates time-consuming tasks and allows team members to use their working hours more efficiently.
1. Reports can be easy, and meaningful
As a leader, you need to have data at your fingertips if you want to successfully manage your team. With LevelEleven’s Manager Scorecard, you can see where your whole team is at on one dashboard. Personal scorecards for individual contributors also give them the agency to monitor their own progress all from their Salesforce ecosystem.
2. Coach with consistency
We’ve covered the importance of coaching and how to do it effectively but we also know that even the best sales managers get busy and forget to do sales coaching consistently. This is why LevelEleven provides pre-configured workflows, templates and more to make sure that coaching is happening on a regular cadence.
3. Manage against your goals
Stop looking at sales reports and CRM dashboards that tell you what happened in the past, and start monitoring performance in real-time. We’ll tell you when and how to course-correct your sales team’s behaviors, so you always know what actions to take to improve sales results. Line up performance today to hit your sales goals tomorrow.
4. Focus on what matters most
Use LevelEleven to cut through the day-to-day noise and give your team visibility into exactly where they are in relation to their goals. This allows your team to make up their own minds on where they should spend their time, streamlining their decision making processes and allowing them to have the most productive day possible. In addition to that, the LevelEleven Performance Index provides scores for your individual team member’s performance against his or her goals, keeping their progress top of mind.
5. Motivate with Competitive drive
With LevelEleven, you can spin up an automated sales contest in only six steps around any behavior tracked in Salesforce. We built this with sales managers in mind so you won’t need help from IT, allowing you to spike productivity on demand. Build contests that fit your team – whether that means rewarding on percent-to-goal, with different points for different behaviors, via individual or team-based spiffs or on custom behaviors.Modern sales teams face many challenges, therefore there is no reason to spend valuable time on activities that could be easily automated. Investing in a performance automation platform will not only save your team members time, but it will also increase productivity and revenue for your entire organization in the long run.
Interested in automating your sales process? Request a free, personalized demo of LevelEleven