Why sales development programs fail. #3 No sales structure.

sales structure critical to success

Growth Orbit Insights

In the previous two parts of this series on why sales development programs fail, we discussed the need for you and your team to be fully committed to the success of your lead generation programs as well as ensuring that you have high quality data. Having a great team and giving them good data to work with is a solid start. For your sales development program to succeed there must be involvement and follow through by the sales team.

In this third part of the series we will cover ways to avoid sales development program failure by providing structure and adhering to a sales process.

by Steve Schilling

Without sales skills and process, sales development programs fail

Like most sales functions, sales lead development has been heavily researched, and many successful strategies are well-documented. Yet, 80% of sales development functions out there aren’t adhering to any formal methodology.

Effective sales development is absolutely a numbers game, but it requires well-honed skills too. Make the dials but lack needed selling skills, and you will not succeed. Have the best sales skills around but skip the necessary sales process, and again, you will fail. Success requires both.

Like any activity in business or sport, success starts with a solid grasp of the fundamentals. With sales development those fundamentals include the following:

  • Storytelling. According to research performed by SiriusDecisions, in which they surveyed executives about their quality of interactions with salespeople, only 10 percent said sales calls provide enough value to warrant the time spent on them.

Forrester found that only 15 percent of sales calls add enough value to make them worth their while. Just seven percent of those surveyed said they were able to schedule a follow-up discussion. The opportunity to have a productive conversation with a prospective customer is won or lost in the first 30 seconds. Asking a prospect for a few minutes of their time to “learn about their business” is a strategy for failure.

Like most aspects of sales, there are proven methodologies for getting through to executives using storytelling techniques.

  • Skip the company history, the industry acronyms, and the marketing speak, and focus on your prospective customer’s world.
  • Lead with useful insight that demonstrates you have value to offer.
  • Earn the right to engage.
  • Uncover problems before you begin prescribing solutions.

why sales development programs fail ebookBe truly focused on helping others, not selling. Sales development reps need to practice being good storytellers and be prepared with engaging stories to tell.

If your messaging approach is wrong and doesn’t resonate with your prospective customer (or your sales development reps are not adept at delivering that messaging), your sales development efforts will fail.

  • A structured cadence. Salespeople who make 12 contact attempts perform nearly 20% better than their colleagues who stop at eight attempts. In fact, most sales reps stop after just two attempts. Those who follow the pre-defined (and approved) cadence—number of calls, voicemails and emails; and deliver the associated messaging for each touchpoint, and timing—get optimal results.

Think about the sales development process as a manufacturing process.

  • Each step must be performed in the correct order, in the right way, to achieve goals. If the process is executed too slowly, or extra steps are inserted, then production levels are low.
  • On the other hand, if steps are skipped or shortcuts taken, the end result will also not come out as engineered.

This same philosophy applies to a sales development cadence. Having a designed process and managing to ensure all of the steps are executed correctly, in the right order, and with the intended timing is critical to successful sales development. Leaving SDRs to “figure it out” on their own is a recipe for failure.

why sales development programs fail sales follow up

  • Selling methodology. Modern business accounting works because all auditors and accountants subscribe to General Accepted Accounting Principles or GAAP. In sales, by contrast, there are thousands of methodologies and approaches, books and gurus to choose from.

Like the accountants, your sales development team needs a single framework that everyone knows and follows. A consistent frame of reference that’s familiar to all keeps everyone on the same page. Pick a sales approach and make it your standard.

  • Tech stack. Sales development best practices require a methodical approach, executed consistently, and in sufficient volume. For example, team members may be required to make 60 to 80 phone calls per day, leave 20 to 30 voicemails, and send 20+ emails—plus make a number of social outreaches.

To achieve a persistently high level of favorable results, the team must meet these activity targets each day, every day, to the right targets at the right time. An effective sales development rep will have about 125 companies actively in cycle at any given time, with new targets being added and others being removed on a daily basis.

why sales development programs fail bad technology

To manage all of this activity you need a tool—and your CRM is not the one for the job. CRMs such as Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics are notoriously poor at managing a sales development effort. That’s why an entire ecosystem of tools such as SalesLoft, Outreach, and Xant were created specifically to support this task.

An important capability of your sales development tech stack is recording calls. Lead generation work happens on the phone. With hundreds of calls being made every week, the only way to manage, coach, and develop your reps is to listen to calls.

  • Training and coaching. Kirk Roach, an inspirational sales leader, friend of mine (and former professional athlete) was the first person who shared with me this valuable insight:

“In athletics we practice 95% of the time so that we can perform our best during game time, the 5% that matters the most. But in sales, so many think they can practice just 5% of the time and perform their best the other 95% of the time.”

Sales is a skill and like any other skill, success requires continual work, training, and focus on improvement. Your sales development effort is no different.

People, process, tech components: A lot goes into running a well-oiled sales development effort. The fundamentals described above are the basic components. Without these concepts put into action, a lead development effort will most certainly fall flat. Master the basics, and you’ll turn a losing effort into a winning one.

Part 3 of 4

This is the third of a four-part blog series covering the top reasons lead development programs fail. The blog series is excerpted from Growth Orbit’s new eBook: 4 Reasons Why Sales Development Programs Fail (And What You Can Do About It).

About Growth Orbit

Growth Orbit is a full-service growth acceleration firm, focused on driving measurable value through growth initiatives that work. We excel at combining sound growth strategy with proven sales methodologies, supported by effective technology. We only consider ourselves successful when we deliver accelerated, measurable growth for our clients.

From developing smart insight driven sales messaging, to filling your funnel with qualified leads, we’ve built our foundation on meeting clients where they are and helping them achieve new levels of growth — what we call reaching Growth Orbit!