Note from the Editors: Aaron’s tip is about getting the right people to do the right things in the sales process. Aaron explains how specialization can hugely benefit your prospecting efforts.
< Specialization makes everything else twice as effective (literally – it can help you double your results with the same people.)
The Four Core Roles:
- Inbound lead qualifiers who react to leads coming to you, usually through your website & phone. They may do some outbound in their free time.
- Outbound prospectors who proactively reach out to create new sales leads from scratch. No inbound leads, no closing deals!
- Salespeople/Account Executives who close new business. They do NOT handle current customers or renewals, unless it is for a small (<5-10) number of special accounts. They may prospect 20% of their time but only to cultivate a small, focused set of specific targets or even better – important partners.
- Account Managers & Customer Success Managers who maintain & grow current customers. This can include other post-sale specialties like a Renewals Team & Professional Services. Account Managers typically have a sales quota Customer Success Managers do not.
The #1 Concern: Relationship-Breaking
“Doesn’t passing a prospect or customer off from one person to another create problems? Shouldn’t the same person be building a relationship from Day one with a customer, then owning and maintaining it?”
No – not if you have simple, thoughtful ways to hand off customers, and set their expectations appropriately.
In fact, prospects & customers get much better service this way, because they have specialists at each step responding appropriately to what they need.
It’s hard for a salesperson who’s working on proposals, or traveling, to drop everything and get back right away to a new inbound lead.
Or to drop everything to deal with an urgent problem at a current customer.
Or to focus on all the things that are important – like customer service – when it’s not related to them making their quota.
By specializing – in a way that makes sense for your business – you’re doing customers a favor too.
When I mean specialize, I mean specialize. Prospectors need focus to make it work. Your prospectors should not close. Your prospectors should not respond to inbound leads. Your prospectors should not act as part-time telemarketers for marketing who want to fill their events. Your prospectors should prospect (90%+ of their time/focus).
The biggest long-term benefit: a Farm Team: By creating a career path for your people, you can create an incredible long-term source of talent for your company.
Your best people usually will be the ones you develop internally over time through this path, and it keeps them interested, learning and engaged.
It’s Never Too Early to Specialize
“What if I only have 1 or 2 people in sales?” This is the most common question asked. It’s never too early to begin specializing.
If you’re small, specialize your time.
- Block out chunks of time (say 2 hours) on your calendar for business development
- At those times, turn off any distractions.
- Get a buddy system going with a friend or partner to keep you accountable. Set goals to hit to help keep you focused.
A few exceptions…think careful about how to specialize if:
– You have a very simple sales process, like a one-or two-call-close product.
– You’re in a business or segment currently succeeding with generalized salespeople (like financial services advisors). Don’t fix what ain’t broken…but also don’t be afraid to try new ideas.
– Common sense (not tradition, blind assumptions or what your investors tell you) says it just isn’t right for you.
About Aaron Ross
Aaron Ross is the #1 best-selling author of “Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com” (called by many people the “Sales Bible of Silicon Valley”). Before Predictable Revenue, Aaron worked at Salesforce.com, where he created a revolutionary Cold Calling 2.0 inside sales process and teams that helped increase Salesforce.com’s revenues by $100 million.