You can’t deny it anymore. Inbound sales and marketing has taken hold of the business world. And while larger organizations have the ability of to hire multiple people and delegate tasks and responsibilities to different departments, where does that leave the small business owners? Especially since many are working with limited budgets, enabling them to only hire about one or two sales reps.
Inbound marketing has resulted in a fundamental shift in the traditional small business model. So how can you implement the right strategy to increase sales revenue?
#1: Hire the Right Reps
One of the biggest challenges any small business is taking the first step – hiring the right sales reps to get the job done. Bad hires can be catastrophic, costly and can literally make or break a small organization.
Smaller teams mean reps have to be able to multitask well. So before you bring anyone in for an interview, given them a sales assessment. You’ll be able to know if candidates can perform the tasks needed for the position before they even set foot in the door. Hire a rep with the right basic skillset, because more advanced sales skills can be nurtured and taught through a comprehensive onboarding process.
#2: Strong Onboarding Program = Long-Term Success
When it comes to training, “sales onboarding” is the buzzword of the moment – but it’s not a passing fad. Onboarding is when your sales reps will learn the necessary skills, knowledge and behavior to contribute as an effective player on your team.
If you think you can just dump a pile of work on your new rep – “trial by fire” – and expect them to be successful, think again. If you’re a business owner, you need to dedicate time and effort into developing a comprehensive onboarding program. Turnover creates turmoil, but when sales reps are truly prepared for their position, there is greater success and less turnover.
#3: Examine the Process
A sales rep for a small business needs to wear a lot of hats. That means, as business owner, you need to take a critical look at your practices and determine what tasks can be taken off of your reps’ plates. If you hired someone to primarily perform sales tasks, what can you do to create more time available to accomplish those responsibilities?
You might have to think outside the box. Should you hire a part time employee to complete more administrative tasks or is it better to streamline your processes so that time spend on paperwork is kept to a minimum? Create a process laying out the sales rep’s day, giving them time they need for inbound and outbound sales. Help reps create and achieve balance.
#4: Your Reps Need to Get Outbound AND Inbound Sales
That’s right. Small companies don’t usually have the ability to hire separate inbound and outbound reps, so everyone needs to be a jack of all trades. Small companies have struggled to find their space in the inbound world. A major part of the onboarding process should be devoted to training reps to be successful at both. Traditional outbound sales and inbound sales must be aligned for maximum revenue growth. Reps should be proficient at branding not only their company, but themselves. By putting relevant content on social sites, reps build warm connections and foster relationships with clients and prospects.
The rep becomes their own personal inbound marketer for both themselves and the company. Sales reps should be posting content on the LinkedIn long forum, involved on twitter, attend events, and create warm opportunities for themselves. Smaller companies are not in a position to live off of inbound leads, so it is imperative that reps that are qualified to perform outbound and inbound sales tasks.
#5: Review the Metrics That Matter
Choosing the right metrics and key performance indicators to track effectiveness is extremely important. It sets the tone for everything. With the transition that has occurred in sales over the past few years, it is time to evaluate what indicators are being used to track sales and create an accurate pipeline. Nothing is a bigger waste of time than gathering useless information and tracking inefficient metrics.
#6: Have a Brand Story, But Let Them Have a Voice
The small business owner is often connected to their company on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute level. Their business is their baby. Because of that, they attempt to control everything the sales rep says or does.
However, by creating a company narrative and building it into the onboarding process, sales reps know the company story. The process is the process, the methodology is the methodology. So take a step back, have confidence in your hiring decision and let your reps find their voice.
#7: Most Importantly, Listen
Part of a well-developed onboarding process is taking the time to meet with your new reps each week. And while that time should be devoted to sales coaching, there should also be time built in to listen to your new hires. What do they have to say? How do they think things are going? AlsosSpend time listening to what is happening while they’re out the field. Discuss what is working or what might not be working. Devote a portion of the conversation to discovering what your rep might need to be successful.