I’m in B2B Sales for the past 15 years. I was always sure that a successful salesman has to personally carry a sales lead “from the first cold call to closing the deal” – I was so wrong…
I consider myself as very good in lead generation (sourcing and qualifying new targets, reaching out via cold calls) and very talented in building rapport with the people I talk to and consequently, I was always successful in closing deals. And I don’t lack self conficence as you can read 😉
Even when I started my own business in 2010 (we do B2B sales for companies who want to gain new customers in the German speaking markets) I was totally convinced that this kind of sales profile is the key to success. I made some bad experiences with telemarketing agencies.
Waiting For Superman
In 2012 I hired a very talented sales man, he was experienced and excellent in generating new sales leads but he was less experienced in converting leads in opportunities and closing deals. Unfortunately he left us early 2014 because he didn’t earn any sales commissions… so back to the start. You can imagine how impossible it was to scale a business with such though requirements on new sales hires.
I was at a point where I had no idea how to grow our sales services business. I couldn’t wait until I meet a Sales-Superman who is good in cold calling and even better in deal closing. So I had to do something different. Inbound lead generation, content marketing, social media, marketing automation and a lot of other “fancy” stuff was on the table for discussion.
After considering all possible options, I finally decided to stick to our outbound sales approach but I made the following important change to it:
Robin And Batman Arised
Instead of searching for the perfect sales superman I hired “Robin”, a Sales Development Representative (SDR). Her job was to generate new leads and to initially reach out to them. I had very realistic expectations on the candidates and so it was easy and fast to recruit such a talented person.
After 4 to 5 weeks we completely adjusted our overall sales process. An SDR is in charge for sourcing and prospecting new leads and an Account Executive (AE) takes over the lead as soon as the prospect shows interest, wants a demo or has very specific questions the SDR couldn’t answer. The interface between the SDR and AE was well defined in our CRM by sales stages. For the SDR it is clear when to through a lead over the fence to the AE and for the AE it is clear what he can expect. The collaboration of the two works very smoothly and effective.
This role split was the basis for the growth of our sales force. It is much easier to recruit and manage talented SDRs and experienced AEs rather than looking for the perfect all-in-one Sales Expert that doesn’t exist.