Want to Drive Predictable Revenue? 5 Critical Steps to Managing a Successful Inside Sales Team

by on October 23, 2013 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Top Sales Dog
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Note: Today’s guest post comes from Henry Schuck of DiscoverOrg.

Sales leaders and C-Level executives often tell us they just hired a veteran sales rep so they can tap their relationships to boost sales. But if you’re relying on this approach for your success, it’s not a good bet; you can be sure the list will run thin and you won’t be left with anything repeatable. Sirius Decisions’ Jim Ninivaggi said it best: “Hiring Rolodexes or senior sales people when you’re a small growing company is the biggest mistake.”

Creating a predictable revenue model requires a team dedicated to outbound prospecting. There are dozens of studies and reputable sales leaders that speak to the importance of this strategy. Aaron Ross, author of “Predictable Revenue,” built a $100M sales team at Salesforce.com in the early 2000s using a true outbound prospecting/inside sales method. ExactTarget, a company that sells software to optimize inbound marketing strategies, started an outbound prospecting team in 2005; it was just bought for $2.5B by Salesforce.com.

So how do you create a repeatable, predictable sales model? Here’s my list of the top 5 steps to take:

1). Hire dedicated outbound/inside reps who just set daily appointments for field reps.

As these people are the face – or should I say the voice – of your company to hundreds of people every month, and are responsible for fatting up the pipeline, you need to get this right. They need to be articulate, smart, coachable and hard working.

Here’s what we do:

  • Review resumes: look for any type of sales experience, whether it’s retail or dialing for dollars in college.
  • Phone interview: Are they engaging over the phone? Are they sharp? What drives them? Why our company?
  • Technical/Knowledge test: each candidate is given a test of 10 questions about our company. Our goal is twofold:
    1. Is the person serious about the opportunity to work at DiscoverOrg and willing to put forth effort? We’re forgoing an hour of revenue generation potential to have the sales teams interviewing them, so we need to see the same level of commitment
    2. Successful sales professionals need to utilize all their resources to prepare for the opportunity. Their responses give us a baseline understanding of their intelligence, research skills and ability to articulate their findings effectively.
  • Group interview: we have the candidate meet with 3-5 of the senior sales members. The group setting creates a high-pressure environment that really shows how people perform, their confidence, and their ability to think on their feet. From our perspective, getting multiple reactions to a candidate helps us hire better talent.
  • Job fit Test: this matches the candidate’s personality and thinking style criteria against a known profile of DiscoverOrg’s most successful salespeople. We then have them meet with the VP of Sales for a final sign-off in case we’ve missed anything and if they pass muster, we offer them the job.

2). Dedicate time to train, mentor and coach on your company’s sales methodology. Invest in a phone system that lets you listen for those coachable moments, role play all the time and adapt your strategies based on what the sales team is telling you.

3). Understand your ideal target. You need to understand your ideal company and your ideal buyer within that company. There is no sense in letting your expensive new hire loose on bad fit companies or prospects; identify and set the targets first.

4). Create a compensation plan that rewards results, not just activity. It’s not good enough that a rep called 200 people today if he didn’t set any appointments; it’s also not good enough that he set 100 appointments if none of them convert into opportunities or revenue. Make sure the team is incented to achieve the end goal and help them build the right habits to get there.

5). Invest in competitive intelligence tools. If you get everything above right but you don’t have good data for your team to be calling on, then you might as well pack up your bags and go home. Three great weapons for the arsenal:

  • Direct-dial phone numbers: studies show just doubling direct dials a rep has access to triples the meetings they set.
  • Org charts: identifying the key decision makers in an organization, knowing where they sit and who reports to whom, are all crucial pieces of information for any rep to have.
  • Intel on real-time initiatives at the target companies: the more you know about budgets, purchasing and projects at a target account, the more equipped the reps will be to offer a true value-add solution that meets their immediate needs.

Developing repeatable, sustainable sales revenue isn’t going to happen unless you bring a focused approach that identifies, attracts, incents and equips all-star talent, lasers in on your ideal audience and leverages all the actionable intel you can gather. See you at the top!

Henry Schuck is Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of DiscoverOrg, a leading provider of technology sales and marketing intelligence tools for IT vendors. He can be reached at hschuck@discoverorg.com.

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