In today’s competitive market for strategic buyers, firms are looking to create organic growth through operational improvements to maximize the value of their return. One specific growth area which can drive this growth is in Sales force effectiveness. The big question would be where do would you start in driving this value?

Picture this… You have just acquired a B2B technology company focused on big data and are tasked with growing the Portfolio company quickly over the next 18 months due to the company’s potential.

 

Your company’s due diligence captured a few opportunities for improvement but its still not what is going to move the needle to your exit goal. In years past, a manager in this situation might look at cost cutting or M&A to drive growth. But is this the only way to get the most value out of your companies investment?

 

In short… The answer is no. In today’s competitive market for strategic buyers, firms are looking to create organic growth through operational improvements to maximize the value of their return. One specific growth area which can drive this growth is in Sales force effectiveness. The big question would be where do would you start in driving this value? Prospecting.

 

Prospecting is a function that is often times poorly understood and executed amongst companies. It is the function that fills the funnel with real sales opportunities and when done effectively it can fill your pipeline with gold. There is often times trapped value in prospecting when the function itself is encumbered within the sales and marketing group. When the function of prospecting can be fixed, your pipeline swells as more customers are released. So what does this mean? More revenue and value for your investment.

 

How do we get there? At SBI we get this question a lot. We will work through a plan using the example above, the technology company.  A few questions that should be answered as you think through this.

 

We recommend using the Prospecting Coaching Guide as a foundational tool to improve how your sales managers coach and improve prospecting activities from your sales reps.

 

Do You Have the Correct Prospecting Methodology? or Is There a Standardized One to Follow?

 

We see this all the time at SBI where businesses treat prospecting the same way no matter what industry they are in.

 

Technology companies are unique versus a traditional B2B sale because of the following reasons:

 

  • Usually complex sales with a longer sales cycle

     

  • The scope of the proposal is usually an enterprise solution which makes it larger in scope

     

  • The sale is highly technical and requires technical sales expertise

     

  • Finally, the sale usually requires an element of customization to accommodate the customers unique needs

     

So what does this mean for prospecting? In a complex sales environment like technology, this requires a more technically qualified salesperson and someone that can adequately navigate the sales process. This means that prospecting is not just the role of an inside sales rep in today’s competitive environment, it is the role of an outside sales manager.

 

Without a strong Prospecting Strategy in place, your pipeline might be clogged with the wrong type of accounts. This could be the obstruction that is preventing your sales team from converting leads to opportunities and from getting the ball rolling to actively driving the business forward.

 

Do We Have the Right People Handling Prospecting?

 

Prospecting is not like selling. It’s not linear; it’s all over the place. It can start and stop with no return. In a complex sales environment like technology, this is even more true and can become very frustrating for sales leaders.

 

This is why it is more important than ever to look at Prospecting as a discipline, one that requires setting goals and effort. More than ever, prospecting is a volume game, and it requires dedicated individuals who are disciplined and can set goals to develop the pipeline. The biggest effort can often times being finding the people that are going to put in the effort focused on finding the right accounts.

 

You can have a sound prospecting methodology in place, but without the effort to follow through on the goals in hand, it will not be effective. Prospecting is not just an inside sales function anymore. Especially in a complex market like Technology, having your top field sales managers responsible for major enterprise level accounts can help to improve the success of your prospecting and improve your lead quality.

 

How Will We Measure the Success of Prospecting?

 

There is not an easy answer to this. It is hard for Sales Managers to inspect Prospecting.

 

As a sales manager I would want to know:

 

  • Are my reps managing their time effectively and pursing the right activities?

     

  • Are opportunities being pursued the right away?

     

  • How are we going to track metrics that indicate success and/or failure of the prospecting process?

     

These questions cannot be easily answered but they can be coached. SBI recommends that Sales Managers take an active role in coaching their sales reps to ensure best practices are being followed. The best way to begin this process, is through a systematic, dependable, and powerful coaching tool that ensures that the prospecting cadence is both correct and productive to drive lead into your pipeline.

 

We recommend using the Prospecting Coaching Guide as a foundational tool to improve how your sales managers coach and improve prospecting activities from your sales reps.

 

In SBI’s interview with Ryan Leavitt, CRO of Learncore, our CEO Matt Sharrers captures this idea best when describing Prospecting. “You cannot coach a pipeline but you can coach a behavior to how someone generates a referral. “As you think through your acquisition and exit strategy, it is important to consider looking at the sales strategy of your newly acquired portfolio company to understand if it is growth oriented. Cost cutting will get you ROI, but will it get you the sustainable long term results your strategic buyer is looking for? Being able to optimize your pipeline and understand the quality of your leads can be a powerful way to grow your business organically for years to come.

 

 

Additional Resources

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Durst

Prior to SBI, Ben spent his career in a variety of strategic roles in both consulting and corporate strategy.  He uses a data driven approach to tackling complex business problems while utilizing his diverse industry experience and strategic background.

 

Ben has worked on a variety of global product strategy projects focused on sales and marketing related initiatives including; branding and market positioning, market entry strategy, market segmentation, and market analysis.  He brings creativity and passion to every engagement coupled with his demonstrated skill sets in data analysis, marketing strategy, and business development. With a diverse background across multiple industries, Ben is able to quickly provide market driven decisions which result in his clients making their number.

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