I have had a number of our tech prospects and clients talk to me about increasing their current sales. When I ask about what they have done so far in their attempt to grow the business, whether a technology services company or a SaaS company, I often hear they have hired new sales reps. Everyone knows the easiest way to increase sales is to add to your sales team! Right?
WRONG!!! This is not accurate at all! You can certainly sell a little more than you were with the previous sales team but that’s only because you have added one more body to the team that hopefully has a few industry contacts that will buy from your new sales rep. So his or her contacts will purchase and POOF! your sales have increased!
Where most business owners go wrong is not understanding the sales to cost ratio when hiring new sales reps. Each sales rep needs to be covering their own cost PLUS. Now the PLUS might be different for every company, but the cost remains the same. A sales professional added to your team will have cost that includes salary, expenses, benefits, plus anything else they have negotiated. These are your standard costs of adding a sales professional to the team that the new sales rep must cover with their incoming sales before any profit can be realized. Sounds obvious right?
I have had one customer in particular say to me “I’ve hired all these guys and my sales are up but it doesn’t feel like we have any more money than we did when we needed more sales”… because more sales isn’t what you really need. YOU NEED MORE PROFIT! How do you get more profit?
Well, for starters, you can always push to get more out of your existing sales team, you can up-sell current customers, you can even cross-sell to your customers, but it’s more than that. It’s generating more leads that are qualified, nurturing the leads that aren’t ready to buy yet, and aligning your sales process with your buyers journey. If you were to change these three things in your sales process right now and not hire another sales rep for your team, I guarantee your sales and subsequently, your profits, will increase!
This is what we refer to as a sales system. Every successful and financially strong company, no matter how big or small, has a defined sales system that includes a process. Our goal here is to create a scalable and predictable sales system. Let's not forget that a sales system will include the inbound marketing concepts that are necessary to generate more leads, that can be quickly qualified, and either moved further along the sales process or into the marketing database where they can be nurtured until they are ready to buy. It doesn’t matter if you are selling products or services, a well defined process will increase your sales.
We have worked with multiple technology companies that were struggling with this issue. The first step is to evaluate your current sales process. Having a sales playbook helps. Just to be clear; let's make sure we all understand what a Sales Playbook is. A sales playbook is a document outlining your sales process; buyer personas; call scripts and agendas; sample emails; discovery, qualification, demo, and negotiation questions; proposal guidelines; and/or competitive intelligence guidelines.
In other words, your sales playbook prepares your reps with all the content and strategies they need to close a deal, not just any deal, helps them to close the right deals. Closing the right deals typically means more profitability. See how we have come back around to increasing profits? You haven't added to your existing staff, which means you haven't increased your costs.
Sounds simple, right? Honestly, it's easier than you think. Start with your playbook and as your building your playbook you will begin to learn about your internal sales issues. You probably have more than you know. Your playbook is the first step in creating your overarching sales strategy. Once you go through the process of creating your playbook, you will have identified the areas you are strongest at as well as the areas that are needing attention.
Take the time to get started with this project before hiring your next member on the sales team. If you don't have the playbook and sales process properly identified and documented, you might be adding more complexity to your sales efforts...who wants that?