Over the past four months Green Leads has been starting new reps on the first Monday of each month. Inside sales seems to be like that, growth and replenishment.
In our case, we have pretty stringent criteria for success since we are a performance-based appointment setting company. We have to have our reps deliver. So here is what typically happens if we hire four reps, train them, get them on the floor and keep coaching them. Over the next 4-8 weeks one leaves, one never quite makes it to full production and two are long term performers (keepers).
Our goal: Get to three keepers out of four.
How do you train your inside sales recruits? Us, well, here's our modified training plan. It's focused on skills, performance and retention.
- Green Leads Culture - People fitting in is a big part of our success strategy. If the whole team doesn't have chemistry together, we won't thrive. The team has to also understand our Quality vs. Quantity standards, and the ethics that go along with them.
- Demand Gen Basics - Yes, we specialize in appointment setting, but we are in the industry of Demand Gen and appointment setting isn't just about dialing the phone any more. Inbound Marketing, Outbound Marketing, Marketing Automation and Social Media are all brought to the introductory level so that our reps become marketers, not just sales reps.
- Research 101 - Gone are the days of just dialing a list top to bottom. Our reps need to be educated snipers that make every dial count. This session turns them into detectives. They can still work machine gun style or sniper style, but understanding when to use each technique is important.
- Conversational Selling - Boiler rooms don't have conversations, and Green Leads is no boiler room. The problem is that newbies come in with a pre-programmed desire to want scripts, pre-written voicemails, etc. We de-program them so that they become human again. We remind them how to have a conversation with confidence.
- Times Have Changed - This session is one of the most important. Buyers don't get sold to any more; they are sophisticated and want to control their buying decisions and process. Prospects communicate with vendors differently. The changes are subtle, but having our reps understand them is key to their ability to play in the executive level prospect sandbox.
- Toolbox - It used to be that inside reps had their own Hoovers account and looked up main numbers. Times have changed here too. With unlimited data licenses at four vendors, search tools that didn't exist just four years ago, autodialers, power dialers, Google alerts, social media and other techniques -- this business is a specialized trade now and the new skills need teaching.
- Mentor System - First, each newbie is assigned longterm to a performing veteran. Second, along the same lines the newbies are rotated with at least four other mentors for a day-at-a-time shortterm experience. They get to see different styles and techniques. We don't double jack them all day, but we sit them next to each other and the mentor keeps the knowledge flowing. We also comp the mentors on the newbie progress to becoming appointment setting experts performance during the first month just to keep their heads in the game.
What are some of your inside sales training techniques? Have you revamped the way outbound lead generation is done?
| View of the Shawsheen River at Rt 133 from Green Leads' parking lot|
Those of you living in New England know that the past four days have been brutal, with constant rain, the White Mountains melting and all of it heading downhill towards towns like Andover. The Shawsheen River pours right through Andover into the Merrimack, which backs up with each high tide. Combined, the rains, the melt and the tides have caused flooding all over the area.
In Green Leads' case, the Shawsheen River swelled over its banks into our parking lot, seeping through the sandbags, and you can hear the rush of water in the bottom of the elevator shaft.
Needless to say, late yesterday we raised the disaster plan flag and packed all portable computers, headsets and one of the backup drives out of the building. Thanks to our virtual hybrid model, we were able to get all but one person up and running today. In fact, the appointment setting run rate for the morning was 10% higher than yesterday. A flood of leads!
A similar situation occurred last year with the ice storms and power outages in New Hampshire where one of the other lead gen firms went down completely for three days. In our business, time is money. For our sales rep clients, lost production from their lead gen partners means lost opportunity.
- Do you have a disaster recovery plan for your Inside Sales or Lead Gen team?
- If your building were to lose power for a week, or the floods poured into the basement, could you keep generating pipeline?
- What about a business disaster? Could your demand gen efforts survive negative press events (think of Toyota Prius).
Parting shot ... Green Leads' mascot, Louie, taking a sip out of the parking lot.
Last night we were at my favorite local restaurant for my oversized salad (mandated by my wife and doctor), when I observed each of the servers checking in with their customers within 5 minutes of serving their entrées, "How's your steak cooked?", "Is the salmon to your liking?"
How often do demand gen experts ask their sales team, "How are your leads?", "Are your appointments meeting your expectations?" Do you ask for feedback in a timely manner? Do you take the dish back if it's not to sales' liking?
How often are your leads under cooked?
Set your lead gen standards and expectations between sales and marketing, and then formalize them into a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This formal agreement documenting what makes a good lead and what constitutes qualified, or introductory, etc. will keep you all in line. Set goals for your sales team too. They should meet your SLA requirements.
- Are leads being followed up on in a timely manner?
- Is pipeline activity accurately tracked in your CRM and the lead source maintained?
- Are conversion events being documented properly?
- Are lead rejections being used to refine the process?
Me, back to my salad...
Join me and Craig Rosenberg, the Funnelholic, Tuesday March 2, at 10AM PST / 1PM EST. You can register here: The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform.
I've been participating with Focus.com as one of their contributing Focus Experts. The site is a community destination for business leaders to find and produce industry information, research, whitepapers and webinars. The content value is huge, and the knowledge generated is phenomenal and growing daily. If content syndication and webinars are part of your demand gen mix, you should explore Focus in more detail.
What's' behind the curtain? I'm conducting a webinar for them this week, The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform, and having done many webinars -- and being a demand gen marketer myself -- I've been utterly impressed with the process and the team putting the event together.
I've shared webinar tips before in Lead Gen Tips: How To Produce A Successful Webinar, but one thing Focus added to the agenda for preparation was to run through the mechanics of the webinar-hosting software. We did a practice session where each presenter used the platform to push slides to the audience, comment between moderators, and deal with Q&A. I've done enough webinars to have seen most of these functions before, but the simple task of reviewing them for 15 minutes beforehand was helpful.
Also, kudos to the ON24 staff for sharing best practices. My favorite: Use the mute button as a caugh button only; don't stay on mute as you may forget to unmute yourself when it's time to talk. I've fallen victim to that before.
Join me and Craig Rosenberg, the Funnelholic
, Tuesday March 2, at 10AM PST / 1PM EST. You can register here: The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform