When sales reps on your team work a new lead, how often should they call? When should they email? When is it time to give up and move onto the next lead? Creating a simple sales call workflow can answer all of these questions for your reps, simplifying their process and minimizing the number of questions they ask you each day.
As a sales manager, creating a thoughtful call cadence is a vital part of your overall sales process. Here are my recommendations for creating a simple, but effective inbound lead workflow for your Sales Development team that will help them book more meetings and help you close more deals.
Standardize the Workflow
Why shouldn’t we just give sales reps a phone and a notepad and say go make calls? This is because it’s vital, especially for a growing team, to create repeatable, scalable sales processes. We have the technology that enables us to experiment, track our results, and find the most successful sales workflow. Here at InsightSquared, we use a minimum 8-touch model for following up on inbound marketing leads. Our salespeople reach out twice a day, every other day – once with email and once with a phone call for two full business weeks. However, this is just the minimum amount – reps can call or email prospects as often as they’d like (within reason). This process is flexible, but gives reps the guidance they need to consistently and persistently chase leads.
When new reps join the team, I hand them this inbound lead workflow as a guide. Having this visual representation of the process allows new reps to quickly understand the Service Level Agreement (SLA) that I’ve made with our marketing team. I can, on the very first day, explain to them graphically what their job is going to look like day-to-day. This, in turn, allows me to scale the team more rapidly and effectively. At InsightSquared, our team of Sales Development Reps (SDRs) has already doubled in size and will double again by the end of the year, going from 5 to 20 people total. On a team of 20, you need a repeatable and organized process – you can’t ‘cowboy’ your way into hitting your number at that size.
Call Leads Fast
The 8-touch process begins immediately when a lead downloads a piece of marketing content or requests a free trial on our website, at which point they become an MQL, or Marketing Qualified Lead. Industry research states that the sooner we call a lead after they show interest and become an MQL, the more likely we are to connect with the prospect. So, in addition to working their existing leads, our SDRs monitor a separate exception report in an open window throughout the day and watch for new inbound MQLs. Whenever a new lead comes in, the SDR will drop everything and reach out to that prospect.
Companies like InsideSales.com have mastered this rapid-response technique to the point where they’re able to respond to a hot inbound lead like a free-trial request (the best-of-the-best leads) within just one minute. Here at InsightSquared, because of the way our marketing automation software is synced with our Salesforce.com instance, we can get to inbound leads in about 5 minutes. Our goal is always to have SDRs reach leads more quickly, and thereby increase the rate at which we are able to connect with people interested in our content.
Stay on Track with Metrics
Of course, we’re not always perfect in adhering to this sales cadence process. One of the reasons we codified the inbound lead process is so we can be held accountable to theSLA we’ve made with marketing. Marketing does a great job getting us leads, and we owe it to them to make the absolute most we can of these leads. This means reaching out to leads quickly, and not letting leads go without contact for more than two days, at the most. A marketer’s (and my) worst nightmare is a high-value lead slipping through the cracks. Because the process is the law, so to speak, on my team, I make sure to monitor closely whether leads are being ignored by way of a real-time report on the activities of my team and the leads that are arriving. We have a rule here that our SDRs are not supposed to leave for the day if they have any untouched MQLs.
Beyond the rapidity with which we strive to reach out to new leads, I use an InsightSquared lead aging report in order to keep an eye on the sales status of every lead in our system. This status is a pick-list field on our lead object, offering options for Attempts 1 through 7 among all the other potential lead statuses as values. The report tells me if any of our leads have been untouched for longer than 2 days. I have that report sent to me and my team automatically every day. By order of the process, there should be zero leads on that report, ever. So, if there are leads on that report, it’s easy for me to have a conversation with one of my SDRs to understand why. It’s not necessarily that people are behaving badly – there could be a legitimate reason for not contacting a lead according to process. But this report helps me manage my team easily with the help of objective data.
Customize the Process
Is the InsightSquared Inbound Lead Workflow the exact workflow that every company should use? Of course not! Each company should take the notion of a sales cadence and customize it for their business and sales team. Companies that have a longer sales cycle or higher-value deals may want a longer cadence with more touches. For example, if you’re trying to sell a million-dollar deal, you may not want to give up on contacting a free-trial prospect after just two weeks – you may want to chase them for months. But if your average sale price is just $500, it may not be worth it to call someone more than 3 times. You have to think about your business, your sales cycle, your average sales price and how that bears on your ideal sales process. And, don’t be afraid to pivot – your first, second or even fifth go-around of process may not be ideal. The goal is to get better while hitting your numbers!
I’ve built the human-factor into our process by making it flexible; the SDRs have the discretionary power to work the leads for longer and to do more touches. If they have a feeling that there’s a real opportunity for a sale because of the research they’ve done or because of the profile of the prospect, etc., they can work that lead forever. We once signed a new client after our SDR had called into the prospect more than 35 times before the prospect took an initial meeting with us! When thinking about process, you have to balance rigor and discretion. Sales is an art, as well as a data-driven science.
I’d love to know what your sales process is like on your team. What have you found that works particularly well, or where would you like to improve? If you’re still working on finding the perfect sales call cadence, download the free InsightSquared Inbound Lead Workflow and customize it for your team.