Ever since we filled out college applications in high-school, we have been told that it is good to be well-rounded – to not only have good grades, but to dabble in a wide swath of activities. Go out for the basketball and soccer teams. Pick up a saxaphone in the jazz band. Join the debate team. Run for student government. Plan your prom. The prevailing thought was that it was better to “generalize” and have lots of different strengths, rather than being a specialist with one dedicated skill.
Sales management needs to flip that thinking on its head when it comes to the hierarchy of their team.
More specifically there should be a segment of sales reps focused only on working with marketing to qualify inbound leads, those high-quality names that come in through marketing’s efforts. This team of reps does no outbound prospecting, no closing, no up-selling; all qualification, all the time. They take the hordes of leads generated by marketing and qualify – or more accurately, disqualify – them as a fitting prospect, ready to talk to sales.
Here are 5 reasons why you want a dedicated inbound qualification rep who does nothing else but that.
A healthy and sustainable sales pipeline
A robust sales pipeline is the backbone of any sales team. Without the right number of opportunities to work on converting, hitting quota is nigh impossible. Having a dedicated inbound qualification rep – whose job it is to work with marketing on turning leads into opportunities – will keep your sales pipeline full. Having reps who can reach out to leads, overcome objections, qualify them as a good fit for your product and then connecting them to sales will lead to better conversion rates.
This rep’s job isn’t to close deals. He’s not inefficiently working to prospect outbound leads. All he’s doing is taking these already high-quality leads and making sure they really deserve to be in the pipeline, and are opportunities worthy of your closers. Which brings us to the next reason…
Time is the most valuable resource a sales rep has, which makes working efficiently critical. You know what’s not efficient? Having your highest-cost sales reps – closers and account executives – spend their time qualifying or prospecting. You want them focused solely on closing deals. When your reps are in specialized positions – qualifiers qualify, prospectors prospect, closers close – everyone will be comfortable with and skilled in what they do.
As Aaron Ross, the author of “Seeds, Nets and Spears,” told us, Henry Ford should be a good role model for sales managers to look to. Ford’s company built cars more efficiently – and therefore at a more affordable price – by having each assembly line worker focus on one aspect of the machine. Together, they were able to produce a great car, working both efficiently and effectively. Eliminating these inefficiencies produces better unit economics.
Proving ground and career path for younger reps
Every young sales rep wants to eventually become a quota-carrying closer, but they might not be ready for that demanding role yet. The inbound qualification position serves as a fertile proving ground for young reps, while also laying out their career path ahead of them. Learn the qualification and objection-handling skills you need to succeed in this position and you will be well on your way toward becoming a closer.
Improved alignment with marketing
Sales complains about the quality of leads they get from marketing, while marketing complains that sales wastes these good leads they generate. A dedicated inbound qualification rep can go a long way toward bridging the ever-widening gulf. They can act as a liaison, passing feedback from sales and ensuring a smooth hand-off of leads from marketing to sales.
Cleaner sales metrics and data
Sales managers know how hard it is to get sales reps to enter good clean data into the CRM. On the other hand, younger sales reps can be more disciplined and stringent with this data entry process. Additionally, having segmented roles allows each specific team to analyze and track its own key metrics (such as inbound lead qualification and conversion rates). Having better data starts with your reps, and can produce great effects by giving marketing better insights into the effectiveness of their lead generation efforts.