Alchemise Insights Interview – 5 minutes with Andrew McFayden – Sales Development Representative

Here is a 5 minute interview for insights with Sales Development Representative,  Andrew McFayden, on tips and what his experience and learnings has been to perform as a successful Sales Development Representative. He shares his view about how the modern customer centric approach is different to traditional lead generation methods which don’t work anymore.


Question 1: What is your view on the role of an Sales Development Representative in today’s market? 

Answer: Andrew 

When I started with Alchemise Consulting it became apparent that the role of the Sales Development Representative today is a unique offering very much different to the standard inside sales positions. While they wear a sales, commercially focus hat, they also need to sit on a marketing chair. What makes this role unique is prior to the 90s (and the digital age of data collection, such as names, phone numbers and email addresses, etc), the marketing department/agency was engaged to attract the customer and compel them to pick up the phone or walk through the door. The sales people then qualified those that walked in and then proceeded with the sale process.

Today the Inside Sales Role (ISR) or Sales Development Role (SDR) performs a bridging function between the two business units and in part prospects/researches and initially qualifies the contacts before introducing the sales team/contact to follow through with closing the sale.

Where the role is able to be fed qualified contact lists from established sales enabled processes, it facilitates the efficiency and focus of the position to facilitate the commercial outcome needed for the business.


Question 2: Have you needed to be more sales or marketing focussed in your day to day activities?

Answer: Andrew 

My focus in the role has been more on sales to qualify the prospect while balancing this with the marketing aspect of researching and profiling, looking for online triggers relating to the companies and challenges/changes that the company may be going through that are relevant to begin initial engagement. This balance of both sales and marketing understanding provides the experience with focus on being customer centric.


Question 3:  Is relevant industry experience or sales experience required, for example to market technology based solutions or high value services?

Answer: Andrew 

Having industry experience for ISRs does provide value with the comprehension of the on the ground language when speaking with the prospective contacts, especially with the acronym saturated Information Technology world. If this is a gap in the ISR’s comprehension and it is not addressed early in the engagement of the ISR then confidence in phone discussion will not be present. This can also lead to misinterpreting key information that is conveyed by the contact. When talking with people in the industry, trying to ‘fake it till you make it’, will destroy the ISR’s credibility.


Question 4: What specific skills/experience and approach do you need to develop to increase your success in the role? 

Answer: Andrew 

As mentioned above, understanding of the industry vertical jargon is important for the Inside Sales or Sales Development Representative. Of equal importance also is the mental fortitude, resilience to be able to shake rejection off, like water off a ducks back. Being phone (trigger) happy as opposed to phone (gun) shy is vital to have in this role. I believe that having an approach of being willing and able to speak to anyone would be an ingrained quality/skill in your ISR. Making numerous calls in a focussed way is also another key requisite of the role.

If the ISR has a customer service/centric approach to the position, in that they are looking at ways that they are able to help their prospective contacts will also be of benefit to the business, the client and success in the role. If the skills and experience are needing fine tuning then having someone to coach you is vital to future success. The other key skill that needs to be developed is common courtesy. Lacking this level of etiquette can ruin the business reputation fast.


Question 5: How did your manager help mentor or guide you in bridging the gap between sales & marketing as a team?

Answer: Andrew 

With the above mentioned, it is worth stating that even with the skills that I started with at the beginning of the engagement. There were additional areas of learning that were also needed. I found being able to verify some of the unfamiliar industry speak, along with a higher level of industry understanding from Chak Ng, greatly assisted with my own knowledge gaps and approach not to mention the guidance on courses best to take that would further improve my own skill set. This highlights the importance of working together and keeping the communication lines open. Working as a team as opposed to having a siloed approach is one of the stark differences, I have seen with Alchemise Consulting as opposed to other organisations that I have engaged with previously.


Question 6:  How did the use of marketing and sales tools CRM/marketing automation help you in your role? i.e HubSpot value.

Answer: Andrew 

Part of this is having processes in place to ensure smooth engagement, a team approach, the use of a CRM that is more intuitive and of value straight out of the box, along with the marketing automation that the tool supplies were of great assistance. The tools and automation enabled me to gain visibility on prospect interactions, thus being able to reach out when the contact had viewed the content/communication that was sent to them and not fly blind and pester the contact when they have been busy with BAU issues that draw their attention. The analytics also provided insight into being able to understand which part of the (PDF) communication was viewed and for how long. This was especially true when used in campaigns.


Question 7: What type of training did you required for each campaign?

Answer: Andrew 

As for the campaigns the additional training that was undertaken was very much bespoke to each business that was engaged with. Knowing the client’s business in preparation with being onsite, immersing and spending time within their business  or reading through additional marketing collateral along with a content map to furnish individual material relevant to prospect discussions. In addition to this any cultural idiosyncrasies relating to geographic region was also required. This all comes down to distinctions or details of the engagement. Without the additional research and pertinent information, it would have been difficult to achieve the results that were gained.


Question 8:  How important is preparation during a campaign setup and which aspects are vital to having a chance of success? 

Answer: Andrew 
This comes back to the initial preparation when starting a campaign. Which as mentioned previously comes down to understanding what the client’s needs are and also making sure that all systems, tools, internal contacts/stakeholders and needed processes are in place before starting the engagement. While I have been at Alchemise I have seen other clients who have adopted a cowboy, gung ho approach and have not realised the success that they were hoping for. When you consider the capital outlay and personal reputations put on the line, it is exceptionally important that informed preparatory ground work be in place prior to implementation of on the ground activities.


Question 9: Can you share two examples where the use of a sales enablement process worked well and what type of customer engagement made sure everyone was in sync?

Answer: Andrew 

A client event set one month in advance is an example of the preparation needed that provided a tangible result through the use of a sales enablement. A list of relevant enterprise companies where supplied by the marketing department and additional scripts and supporting collateral. This facilitated confident discussions with supporting documentation that could be supplied to clients that was relevant to their position in the company. The result was 19 pre-registrations were booked in from C-Level contacts for the event in this time period.

Another example was for another organisation providing Cloud management services that needed to warm up a list that had gone cold due to the timing of the previously implemented campaign by a 3rd party. Scripts were put in place with along collateral marketing material. The use of a CRM that supplied analytical information on individual contact engagement also enabled me to further successfully interact with prospective contacts. The result on this engagement was in just 30 days, from 200 contacts, we achieved 53 leads, 23 MQLs and 8 SQLs.


Question 10: How did you measure success in the campaigns? Can you give me an example of where greater conversion was achieved?

Answer: Andrew 

With each of these two examples above the success was measured in initial qualified preregistrations for the event and with the second engagement it was a pre defined qualification process on what stipulated a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead), SQL (Sales Qualified lead) and leads that needed further nurturing.


Question 11: What would you suggest to a company that is searching for more leads and approach to lead generation?

Answer: Andrew 

With qualified leads being vital to a company’s survival, I would suggest that with other companies with their own lead generation process, that they work out exactly who they are looking to reach. Have a sound marketing strategy in place with supporting marketing collateral. Define what success will look like with the commercial return that is expected with a set time frame.


Question 12: What is your advice to the many start-up and SME companies you have spoken in the last 12 months about their business growth aspirations?

Answer: Andrew 

For the companies in the last 12 months that I previously spoke to there have been some real observations and useful tips about handling some growth obstacles.

  1. Don’t engage with a creative company unless you have a defined plan on what the commercial return will look like.
  2. Ensure that the agency defines the process that they plan to implement to generate leads.
  3. Make sure that the leads generated are categorised into levels with each level clearly defined so it can be prioritised. If your creative agency is not able to at least provide marketing qualified leads from the work that is undertaken then this should be a warning sign for you.

For more insights about how Inside Sales and Sales Development process and resources can increase performance and conversion, please look at these previous blogs.

To read more about our recent sales and marketing insights and related articles please visit our

Alchemise Consulting News link.

Good luck in 2019!  To kick start your year, we would like to offer you our FREE E-Book on “How to increase your profits with 7 Profit Multipliers!

 

Are you reflecting about your 2019 plans and where you need help with Sales Development or Inside Sales structure, processes or resources?  Feel free to contact us for an initial discussion about your sales & marketing challenges and to book in your independent health check. We can demonstrate specific value by identifying where we can help you and your business accelerate your sales engagement and increase your sales development performance and effectiveness.

Contact Alchemise Consulting at  info@alchemiseconsulting.com or @alchemise_cons or call our office on +61(3) 9225 5022.

 

An inside sales user experience of HubSpot marketing analytics

By Andrew McFayden
Marketing and Sales Insight Consultant

Inside Sales experience before HubSpot Access

Working for other companies in various levels of maturity, I have found that the incumbent customer relationship management tool has ranged from either online shared Gmail tools, Microsoft suite or the old style note book and pen. Suffice to say they have their purpose and are thankfully superseded. These tools and the outbound process of cold calling and having no visibility into whether my communications have been received or even looked at are behind me at this point in time.

My initial impression of HubSpot as a CRM was that it was an unknown – I have not used this tool before, I hope that it does not slow me down. Should I revert to digital note pad to create canned responses to my contacts? Should I create multiple signatures as canned responses in Outlook? Also yes, great – so where is my cold calling list to bang blindly away at!

Inside Sales transformation with HubSpot access

I found that the user interface was easy to work out and it also helped that HubSpot has easy to follow training videos that helps your people with getting a running start to the tool. The important point here is that it is a tool. But this particular tool has smarts about it. Uploading structured and relevant content documents (PowerPoint, Excel, Word, videos/audio etc) to the file system allows you to place hyperlinks into your emails that allows this system to provide analytics to the sender of the email.

Where as before I was blind and ignorant as to whether a contact has opened my email clicked on the attachment and even if they have looked at the content pieces I have sent. Now I am able to see each time stamp when the email has been viewed.  Hang on a second, I know you want more. This reporting goes further and also informs you as to when the contact has clicked on a link to your document(s), as well as which pages have been viewed and approximately how long each page was the focus. This is provided that you send them a link that allows them to view the link to the document(s) online. An important note here is to structure your content attachments so that you have one topic/service listed per page, with a table of contents at the front.

marketing-analytics

With previous tools that I have used this level of data was not available and it resulted in repeated calls to the contacts to see if they had viewed the email or the document(s). More importantly it has allowed me to identify who may have needed a reminder and who has not opened a particular email, content attachment or link.

Inside Sales with HubSpot access: A real example

For example: I was in recent contact with an ICT software development company. Part of my research included looking for triggers. Triggers are events that have been documented online that may be a pain point for your contact that may be a need that can be filled by your company. I found that they were advertising for a position, also additional research uncovered that there was a review on Glassdoor that reflected on the current culture within the organisation.

Reaching out to the CEO of the company, I had a discussion around the position that was advertised. We discussed the particulars of the role and also details of the culture of the company as well. The result of the call was that I was to send an email with additional information to be reviewed. I included the link to the Glassdoor review as one of the links. Out of all the information that I had sent through to the CEO, the link that was clicked first was not surprisingly the Glassdoor review that was submitted by a former employee. The details of the Glassdoor review are not important to this overall picture. What is important, is that it provided me with some insights into the priorities that the CEO has for his business.

When I review this contact in the HubSpot CRM now, I am able to see which other links he has clicked and which documents he has viewed. As a result, I avoid sending information that he has not reviewed, again, and instead look into content that I can send him that he has shown an interest in. It is important to note that at this point that you should not just rely on the marketing analytics and data report to supply you with all the information. Follow up with a call for validation from your contact.

You can use this data to determine when the best time to call may be. As people tend to form habits calling at around the same time as the contact has been setting aside to read emails you have sent should result in being able to reach the contact more readily. The same can be said if the contact has not opened your emails as well. Calling to verify if they have been received your email will help you avoid the spam filter black hole.

This level of marketing analytics and insights have not been available to me previously. It has allowed me to be able to determine the logical and informed next step, the next piece of content to follow with my clients.

It is important to note that HubSpot also have a certified course on email marketing as well that I can recommend that will help with structuring your emails and the content that you send. The courses are free which is an added bonus and I have found that they have allowed me to further improve the quality of my engagement with inbound methodology to my customers.



Find out more about how you could be further optimising and aligning your marketing and sales strategies using digital tools with a complimentary
Digital Readiness Assessment.

digital-readiness-assessment

Click here to read
A digital marketing user experience with HubSpot marketing automation

How inside sales drives lead generation

Part 2 of this series continuing on from
The importance of sales enablement for inside sales teams

How inside sales drives lead generation and could provide more value than business development for SMEs

The inside sales function can help bridge the gap between MQLs and SQLs with the right onboarding process and agreement between both marketing and sales.  We see this as a combined function with, ideally, common budget allocated between the two departments. Our recommendation is to engage inside sales specialists who understand your market and are able to scale based on demand.

For many SMEs and growing businesses the process of hiring strong and experienced BDMs to generate new business isn’t always possible within initial budget considerations. Depending on the sales and marketing go-to-market strategy, the role inside sales plays will have significant impact on marketing activities. You can drive top of funnel leads through multiple channels, however often there is little resource allocated to follow up leads and nurture them. To increase sales pipeline generation and the ability to accelerate sales revenue targets requires increasing sales productivity and marketing aligned discussions.

Based on the buyer’s journey and focussing on sales enablement, more budget should be invested in marketing in ways that support sales. Part of the justification to consider is that the ‘people’ element of inside sales (in-house or contracted) can take less time to payback ROI and also shorten the sales cycle based on sales enablement productivity goals than just on technology automation alone.

Sales Enablement Productivity Guide.jpg

Source: Miller Heiman Group Report 

Choosing an outsourced telemarketing campaign that may not drive qualified pipeline opportunities or contribute to the required ROI required can be risky, as can be hiring the wrong BDM. Your brand reputation could be affected with negative perception from prospective organisations receiving cold calls that can have a future impact. While there is always risk involved in making these choices, it is important to carefully consider any and all relevant factors and plan to help to mitigate this risk, and to increase your success.

Many traditional marketing agencies offering guaranteed cost per lead can prove to be of low value, unless the metrics can be clearly measurable and aligned to sales impact. Caller agent behaviour changes depending on the reward and their skill levels.  A minimum standard BANT method needs to be used but a level of consultative or trusted advisor approach with relevant subject matter and communication skills will increase the lead qualification quality. The only way this can be demonstrated is having the sales and marketing function sit in the same room first and agree on the common objectives with a sales enablement process.

Step One: To agree on alignment with the correct sales targeting and marketing activity

Step Two: Once the clear requirements and goals are highlighted through a structured workshop, the level of investment can be agreed towards joint accountable and responsible KPIs first.

The alignment process looks like this as an example:

sales-marketing-alignment

Source: Alchemise Consulting Sales Enablement Process


Why the strong focus on inside sales function for lead generation?

An Inside Sales Role function provides:

  • Value for money and accelerated sales pipeline development in line with sales and marketing aligned goals.
  • Opportunity to nurture a good resource with sales and marketing skills development.
  • The domain expertise and skills can be nurtured and talented individuals can be progressed into BDE or BDM role under senior experienced managers which helps with talent retention and promotion.

There are no guarantees or security from a traditional recruitment process in hiring full time sales teams. For small companies with limited hiring experience, this cashflow outlay can prove very hit and miss, and risky at the least. Both direct and indirect costs are at risk if the wrong hiring choices are made, often with perfomance monitoring throughout a six month probation period.

The employment market is shifting to an outcome-based model and the certainty of fixed costs and measurable tangible results. Looking at the accounting and legal industries for example, some of the mid-tier firms are slowly shifting from time-based to value/outcome-based services. However the cost for quality hired resources needs a good talent acquisition plan and budget.

Considering a shared risk model in the professional services helps you shift to deliver value added services and demonstrate a willingness to differentiate in the marketplace and to your clients.

Gaining access to an experienced sales team on demand provides both a skill and budget buffer during peaks and troughs as properly marketing qualified leads can be generated through multiple channels and nurtured. The provision of consistently qualified leads and communication from marketing will also offer more confidence to the sales team.

Imagine the focus on sales teams with aggressive targets for Q4 and then there is no pipeline for Q1… Does this scenario sound familiar? An inside sales presence to complement your internal sales team can help solve this all-too-common challenge.

The value of inside sales as a service can fill the gap in building a real sales pipeline, so having access on demand can help drive up prospective client engagement and opportunities.

I would hire an inside sales resource on demand rather than paying for lower level telesales resources who do not have the required expertise in the industry. What I believe brings success is not only the right experience but also the passionate attitude and personality suited to the client and part of the wider team.

At Alchemise, we strongly focus on not only nurturing leads but also our inside sales team management focus depending on the type of campaign and expertise required.

Suggested inside sales metrics

The primary metric to consider is Contacts to Conversions that is driven by sales pipeline and revenue generation as a truer measure of success.

Common digital marketing metrics such as content impressions, web visits and content downloads at the top of funnel typically becomes an MQL. This often frustrates sales as the time and cost of these measures doesn’t have an aligned correlation with sales revenue and pipeline/ opportunities generated.

We would like to challenge the conventional model with one that aligns sales and marketing with an inside sales function.

In closing…

If you want to differentiate your organisation with a more effective aligned sales and marketing growth strategy to generate higher ROI on your marketing investment, sales enablement and inside sales is the way forward. The attention should be directing focus towards the middle and bottom of funnel conversation or engaging a marketing consultancy which appreciates both sales and marketing alignment and not just generating top of funnel leads.

Unlike a telemarketing “one size fits all” guaranteed cost per lead model commonly delivering less than 1% lead conversion, a different approach is to look at the detailed setup and preparation first. A detailed process aligned to the business strategy to increase conversion rates typically establishes a benchmark after the first 3 months using an rolling average lead indicator.

If you can appreciate the delivery process with subject matter experts from the inside sales resources and a quality over quality approach, this is also good indicator that you have found a good fit of who to work with.

Come and arrange an obligation free discussion with Alchemise Consulting and our experience with a holistic, people, process and systems approach or find out about our Inside Sales as a Service.

Inside sales teams and the importance of sales enablement

This article has been written to open up some strategic thinking and discussion for business owners, as well as sales and marketing managers in SMEs or corporate businesses, on different ways to increase lead generation success with inside sales.

At an event we were a part of last year, it was great to hear that a prominent marketing agency acknowledged that marketing supports sales, and that successful lead generation cannot be achieved with just marketing automation and digital content alone.

The challenge in lead generation and conversion efforts between marketing and sales departments are still causing inconsistent measurement of ROI and success.

It’s becoming even more important with the need for both sales and marketing functions to complement, align and integrate with each other and adopting a “full funnel” top-down view. So how can you start that process and get a business to commit to a shift in mindset?

inside-sales

Sales Enablement

The term sales enablement comes to mind and applying the real meaning of this requires the focus of the inside sales role and joint ownership between marketing and sales – agreed upfront as a common shared goal.

What is sales enablement?
Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organisation with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively.

Common lead generation scenario
One example and context was from a marketing agency feedback in running an ICT campaign for a successful Microsoft partner. The client challenge was to generate 2500 marketing leads for a sales target of $10M (4 sales representatives) through content driven marketing automation. That would mean over 200 leads per monthjust from organic digital content and use of marketing automation – a huge task to guarantee a cost per lead model that doesn’t quantify sales opportunity progress or success.

These metrics and expectations just didn’t add up realistically given the variables; length of follow up from sales, quality of leads, and length of the sales cycle. It seemed like the ROI and appropriate KPI would have been unrealistic to achieve in 12 months. These lead metrics are only part of the picture and can’t be relied on to generate consistent leads without first examining the sales targets. If you can reverse engineer the sales target setting process with the required amount of marketing activity and leads required, this usually highlights either a gap in sales target expectations or marketing budget allocation to support this. In an ideal situation the sales manager and marketing manager should agree on the common metrics and KPIs.

In the previous campaign run by the agency mentioned, the MQLs manifesting from the marketing automation platform were largely impressions, web visits, contacts, downloads and enquiries. This is purely a top of funnel focus.

However typical frustrations arose in lead follow-through between MQL and SQL when the sales team didn’t follow up the leads or several leads slip through the cracks.

It was refreshing to hear the marketing agency involved in this campaign quote that the missing link is (needing) “still a human to be involved”.

The other negative impact of relying on inbound automation alone as the primary channel for lead generation was that the sales representatives can became less motivated to generate their own leads as BDMs or Account Managers.

From my sales experience, the biggest challenge still lies in bridging the gap between MQLs and SQLs with a higher degree of skill over simply appointment setting to meet the metric. I believe that one of the keys to successful lead generation is for businesses to invest more in inside sales functions and achieving higher quality results.


What is Inside Sales, and how is it different? 

Definition of Inside Sales, Sales Development or Sales Acceleration Lead

inside-sales

What is ‘Inside Sales‘?
Inside sales is the sale of products or services by sales personnel who reach customers by phone or online methods, rather than travelling to meet them face-to-face. Inside sales relies on the phone, emails and the internet to reach customers and is common in the retail industry.

How is inside sales different to outside sales?
Unlike outside sales personnel, insides salespeople do not travel. Despite this, they are still proactive about contacting potential customers and may make cold contacts. A company may also designate incoming calls from prospective customers as inside sales. In addition, a company may outsource their inside sales duties to a third party instead of conducting sales in-house to increase their speed to market. In a highly competitive, quarter-by-quarter sales environment, the time taken to engage can mean a lost sales opportunity.

This Inside Sales function is commonly known in the ICT or telecoms world as an Inside Sales Role (ISR) or Sales Acceleration Lead or Sales Development Representative.

The typical capability and profile is someone with 2 to 3 years of sales experience or telephone based sales who appreciates the technical/conceptual aspect of the product or service that is being offered. At market rates in Australia they are paid between $50K to $70K base salary plus commission of up to $100K OTE in an ICT role.

If you can successful build a team of ISRs who have senior industry expertise, the right sales aptitude and attitude, with attention to detail and appropriate training, this is a great foundation. The team can then enhance sales enablement process and help bridge the gap between sales and marketing. This investment may generate a higher ROI than employing just a field sales team and, in some cases, represent better value.

The key to successful full funnel conversion from any marketing lead generation is to execute a marketing campaign with Inside Sales Representatives. Many marketing agencies spend a lot of time developing a top of funnel focus, driving online automation campaigns and leads from multiple channels and tactics. This may be moderately successful however the role and responsibility is handed back across to the client for the middle and bottom of the funnel engagement focussed on sales conversion.



Stopping the “Leaky Funnel” effect

In my opinion, this is where the true ROI of a retainer is unlocked for sales effectiveness and still requires a level of knowledge and “human” interaction to bridge this MQL to SQL gap and “leaky funnel” syndrome – which is still being experienced as a common cause of disconnection between marketing agencies and sales teams.

marketing-sales-funnelSource: Hubspot

A good inside salesperson should have the ability to grasp more complex concepts and think about a more meaningful business discussion on a follow up call to increase the quality of marketing qualified leads.

The benefit of inside sales is that star performers can be identified and nurtured towards a field sales progress path which provides sales engagement continuity to the business or a transition plan for staff retention.

The human skills factor can’t be replaced by digital automation
The human factor in consideration of the specific knowledge of the company’s products, services or solutions can provide a far more contextually-relevant delivery compared to a telemarketing representative following a script. Commonly the lack of depth of understanding isn’t appropriate to the conversation with the target stakeholder and decision maker on the prospect side and can lead to lost opportunities.

The buyer’s journey today means that more customers and prospects are well informed via multiple channels through their own research before being accessible and ready in their timeframe to actively make a purchasing decision and engage their supplier of choice.

Traditional telemarketing conversion rates are still poor and the ROI is negligible without the due care of impact on sales revenue and profits. Would you rather have 10 highly qualified leads a month with a 50% ratio to convert with some strategic awareness or 20 average leads of inconsistent quality just because it was an agreed cost per lead engagement per month that was committed to deliver regardless of the chance of conversion?

Customised lead generation is highly recommended rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach to have a better chance of success. Inside sales is increasingly becoming the avenue to help achieve this.


Look out for Part 2 of this series, Why to use inside sales for lead generation: Sales strategy and ROI, where we will talk about the value of Inside Sales versus Business Development, the importance of strategy, and also the use of marketing automation to increase qualified leads and overall ROI.


If any of the challenges mentioned above resonate for you, register for an independent Business Growth Assessment to find out how and where we can help you resolve some of your concerns across your marketing and sales strategy. 

inside-sales 
Alchemise Consulting – Inside Sales as a Service Overview

Part 2 : Why Inside Sales is the key to successful business development

Here is Part 2 of this article continuing on from Part 1: Why Inside Sales is one of the keys to successful lead generation.

How Inside Sales could provide more value than Business Development for SMEs.

The inside sales function can help bridge the gap between MQLs and SQLs with the right onboarding process and agreement between both marketing and sales.  We see this as a combined function with, ideally, common budget allocated between the two departments. Our recommendation is to engage inside sales specialists who understand your market and are able to scale based on demand.

For many SMEs and growing businesses the process of hiring strong and experienced BDMs to generate new business isn’t always possible within initial budget considerations. Depending on the sales and marketing go-to-market strategy, the role inside sales plays will have significant impact on marketing activities. You can drive top of funnel leads through multiple channels, however often there is little resource allocated to follow up leads and nurture them. To increase sales pipeline generation and the ability to accelerate sales revenue targets requires increasing sales productivity and marketing aligned discussions.

Based on the buyer’s journey and focussing on sales enablement, more budget should be invested in marketing in ways that support sales. Part of the justification to consider is that the ‘people’ element of inside sales (in-house or contracted) can take less time to payback ROI and also shorten the sales cycle based on sales enablement productivity goals than just on technology automation alone.

Sales Enablement Productivity Guide.jpg

Source: Miller Heiman Group Report 

Choosing an outsourced telemarketing campaign that may not drive qualified pipeline opportunities or contribute to the required ROI required can be risky, as can be hiring the wrong BDM. Your brand reputation could be affected with negative perception from prospective organisations receiving cold calls that can have a future impact. While there is always risk involved in making these choices, it is important to carefully consider any and all relevant factors and plan to help to mitigate this risk, and to increase your success.

Many traditional marketing agencies offering guaranteed cost per lead can prove to be of low value, unless the metrics can be clearly measurable and aligned to sales impact. Caller agent behaviour changes depending on the reward and their skill levels.  A minimum standard BANT method needs to be used but a level of consultative or trusted advisor approach with relevant subject matter and communication skills will increase the lead qualification quality. The only way this can be demonstrated is having the sales and marketing function sit in the same room first and agree on the common objectives with a sales enablement process.

Step One:  To agree on alignment with the correct sales targeting and marketing activity

Step Two: Once the clear requirements and goals are highlighted through a structured workshop, the level of investment can be agreed towards joint accountable and responsible KPIs first.

The alignment process looks like this as an example.

smarketing KPI process.jpg

Source: Alchemise Consulting sales enablement process


Why the strong focus on Inside Sales function for lead generation?

An Inside Sales Role function provides:

  • Value for money and accelerated sales pipeline development in line with sales and marketing aligned goals.
  • Opportunity to nurture a good resource with sales and marketing skills development.
  • The domain expertise and skills can be nurtured and talented individuals can be progressed into BDE or BDM role under senior experienced managers which helps with talent retention and promotion.

There are no guarantees or security from a traditional recruitment process in hiring full time sales teams. For small companies with limited hiring experience, this cashflow outlay can prove very hit and miss, and risky at the least. Both direct and indirect costs are at risk if the wrong hiring choice(s) is made, often with perfomance monitored throughout a six-month probation period.

The employment market is shifting to an outcome-based model and the certainty of fixed costs and measurable tangible results. Looking at the accounting and legal industries for example, some of the mid-tier firms are slowly shifting from time-based to value/outcome-based services. However the cost for quality hired resources needs a good talent acquisition plan and budget.

Considering a shared risk model in the professional services helps you shift to deliver value added services and demonstrate a willingness to differentiate in the marketplace and to your clients.

Gaining access to an experienced sales team on demand provides both a skill and budget buffer during peaks and troughs as properly marketing qualified leads can be generated through multiple channels and nurtured. The provision of consistently qualified leads and communication from marketing will also offer more confidence to the sales team.

Imagine the focus on sales teams with aggressive targets for Q4 and then there is no pipeline for Q1…  Does this scenario sound familiar? An inside sales presence to complement your internal sales team can help solve this all-too-common challenge.

The value of inside sales as a service can fill the gap in building a real sales pipeline, so having access on demand can help drive up prospective client engagement and opportunities.

I would hire an inside sales resource on demand rather than paying for lower level telesales resources who do not have the required expertise in the industry. What I believe brings success is not only the right experience but also the passionate attitude and personality suited to the client and part of the wider team.

At Alchemise, we strongly focus on not only nurturing leads but also our inside sales team management focus depending on the type of campaign and expertise required. 

Suggested Inside Sales Metrics

The primary metric to consider is Contacts to Conversions that is driven by sales pipeline and revenue generation as a truer measure of success.

Common digital marketing metrics such as content impressions, web visits and content downloads at the top of funnel typically becomes an MQL. This often frustrates sales as the time and cost of these measures doesn’t have an aligned correlation with sales revenue and pipeline/ opportunities generated.

We would like to challenge the conventional model with one that aligns sales and marketing with an inside sales function.

In Closing… 

If you want to differentiate your organisation with a more effective aligned sales and marketing growth strategy to generate higher ROI on your marketing investment, sales enablement and inside sales is the way forward. The attention should be directing focus towards the middle and bottom of funnel conversation or engaging a marketing consultancy which appreciates both sales and marketing alignment and not just generating top of funnel leads.

Unlike a telemarketing “one size fits all” guaranteed cost per lead model commonly delivering less than 1% lead conversion, a different approach is to look at the detailed setup and preparation first. A detailed process aligned to the business strategy to increase conversion rates typically establishes a benchmark after the first 3 months using an rolling average lead indicator.

If you can appreciate the delivery process with subject matter experts from the inside sales resources and a quality over quality approach, this is also good indicator that you have found a good fit of who to work with.

Come and arrange an obligation free discussion with Alchemise Consulting and our experience with a holistic, people, process and systems approach or find out about our Inside Sales as a Service.

 

Part 1: Why inside sales is a key strategy to successful lead generation

This article has been written to open up some strategic thinking and discussion for business owners, as well as sales and marketing managers in SMEs or corporate businesses, on different ways to increase lead generation success with inside sales.

It was refreshing to hear last month that a prominent marketing agency acknowledged marketing supports sales and that successful lead generation cannot be achieved with just marketing automation and digital content alone.

The challenge in lead generation and conversion efforts between marketing and sales departments are still causing inconsistent measurement of ROI and success.

It’s becoming even more important with the need for both sales and marketing functions to complement, align and integrate with each other and adopting a “full funnel” top-down view. So how can you start that process and get a business to commit to a shift in mindset?

  • Introduction to Sales Enablement

The term sales enablement comes to mind and applying the real meaning of this requires the focus of the inside sales role and joint ownership between marketing and sales – agreed upfront as a common shared goal.

The definition of sales enablement

Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively.

  • Common Lead Generation Scenario

One example and context was from a marketing agency feedback in running an ICT campaign for a successful Microsoft partner. The client challenge was to generate 2500 marketing leads for a sales target of $10M (4 sales representatives) through content driven marketing automation. That would mean over 200 leads per month just from organic digital content and use of marketing automation – a huge task to guarantee a cost per lead model that doesn’t quantify sales opportunity progress or success.

These metrics and expectations just didn’t add up realistically given the variables; length of follow up from sales, quality of leads, and length of the sales cycle. It seemed like the ROI and appropriate KPI would have been unrealistic to achieve in 12 months. These lead metrics are only part of the picture and can’t be relied on to generate consistent leads without first examining the sales targets. If you can reverse engineer the sales target setting process with the required amount of marketing activity and leads required, this usually highlights either a gap in sales target expectations or marketing budget allocation to support this. In an ideal situation the sales manager and marketing manager should agree on the common metrics and KPIs.

In the previous campaign run by the agency mentioned, the MQLs manifesting from the marketing automation platform were largely impressions, web visits, contacts, downloads and enquiries. This is purely a top of funnel focus.

However typical frustrations arose in lead follow-through between MQL and SQL when the sales team didn’t follow up the leads or several leads slip through the cracks.

It was refreshing to hear the marketing agency involved in this campaign quote that the missing link is (needing) “still a human to be involved”.

The other negative impact of relying on inbound automation alone as the primary channel for lead generation was that the sales representatives can became less motivated to generate their own leads as BDMs or Account Managers.

From my sales experience, the biggest challenge still lies in bridging the gap between MQLs and SQLs with a higher degree of skill over simply appointment setting to meet the metric. I believe that one of the keys to successful lead generation is for businesses to invest more in inside sales functions and achieving higher quality results.

  • Definition of Inside Sales, Sales Development or Sales Acceleration Lead.

What is ‘Inside Sales‘?

Inside sales is the sale of products or services by sales personnel who reach customers by phone or online methods, rather than travelling to meet them face-to-face. Inside relies on the phone, emails and the internet to reach customers and is common in the retail industry.

Breaking down ‘Inside Sales

Unlike outside sales personnel, insides salespeople do not travel. Despite this, they are still proactive about contacting potential customers and may make cold contacts. A company may also designate incoming calls from prospective customers as inside sales. In addition, a company may outsource their inside sales duties to a third-party instead of conducting sales in-house for increasing their speed to market. In a highly competitive, quarter-by-quarter sales environment, time to engage can mean a lost sales opportunity.

This Inside Sales function is commonly known in the ICT or telecoms world, or financial services, as an Inside Sales Role or Sales Acceleration Lead or Sales Development Representative.

The typical capability and profile is someone with 2 to 3 years of sales experience or telephone based sales who appreciates the technical/conceptual aspect of the product or service that is being offered. At market rates in Australia they are paid between $50K to $70K base salary plus commission of up to $100K OTE in an ICT role.

If you can successful build a team of ISRs who have senior industry expertise, the right sales aptitude and attitude, with attention to detail and appropriate training, this is a great foundation. The team can then enhance sales enablement process and help bridge the gap between sales and marketing. This investment may generate a higher ROI than employing just a field sales team and, in some cases, represent better value.

The key to successful full funnel conversion from any marketing lead generation is to execute a marketing campaign with Inside Sales Representatives. Many marketing agencies spend a lot of time developing a top of funnel focus, driving online automation campaigns and leads from multiple channels and tactics. This may be moderately successful however the role and responsibility is handed back across to the client for the middle and bottom of the funnel engagement focussed on sales conversion.

  • Stopping the “Leaky Funnel” effect

In my opinion this is where the true ROI of a retainer is unlocked for sales effectiveness and still requires a level of knowledge and “human” interaction to bridge this MQL to SQL gap and “leaky funnel” syndrome – which is still being experienced as a common cause of disconnection between marketing agencies and sales teams.

A good inside salesperson should have the ability to grasp more complex concepts and think about a more meaningful business discussion on a follow up call to increase the quality of marketing qualified leads.

The benefit of inside sales is that star performers can be identified and nurtured towards a field sales progress path which provides sales engagement continuity to the business or a transition plan for staff retention.

  • The human skills factor can’t be replaced by digital automation

The human factor in consideration of the specific knowledge of the company’s products, services or solutions can provide a far more contextually-relevant delivery compared to a telemarketing representative following a script. Commonly the lack of depth of understanding isn’t appropriate to the conversation with the target stakeholder and decision maker on the prospect side and can lead to lost opportunities.

The buyer’s journey today means that more customers and prospects are well informed via multiple channels through their own research before being accessible and ready in THEIR timeframe to actively make a purchasing decision and engage their supplier of choice.

Traditional telemarketing conversion rates are still poor and the ROI is negligible without the due care of impact on sales revenue and profits. Would you rather have 10 highly qualified leads a month with a 50% ratio to convert with some strategic awareness or 20 average leads of inconsistent quality just because it was an agreed cost per lead engagement per month that was committed to deliver regardless of the chance of conversion?

Customised lead generation is highly recommended rather than a “one size fits all” approach to have a better chance of success. Inside sales is increasingly become the avenue to help achieve this.

Look out for Part 2 of this series on Inside Sales function as a key to successful lead generation.

We will talk about the value of Inside Sales versus Business Development and also the use of Marketing Automation to increase qualified leads.

Lead-GenerationAlchemise Consulting – Inside Sales as a Service Overview