Better. Faster. Smarter. If you ask any sales leader what their priorities are for their teams in the coming year, these are the sentiments that will be echoed. Sales leaders are constantly searching for the holy grail of sales success: working as efficiently as possible and improving customer engagement without compromising quality. As B2B sales technology continues to evolve and improve, the bar of success goes up a notch every day, making it hard for sales organizations to keep up.
I recently spoke with Heather Morgan, Copywriter and CEO at SalesFolk, about all things sales success, from crafting cold emails to refining sales strategies. SalesFolk specializes in driving sales success through organizations’ messaging and outbound email campaigns, so Heather is no stranger to the topic of sales performance.
Heather and I dived in to discuss the differences between sales acceleration and sales enablement, and how sales organizations can maximize success through the right balance of quality and quantity. My questions and Heather’s responses are below:
- First off, what do you think is the core difference between sales acceleration and sales enablement?
Sales acceleration includes the tools that can help sales reps do things faster, whether with an automation solution or a lead generation tool, to simplify processes and increase efficiency. Sales enablement focuses on making your salespeople more effective and simply better at selling. Sales acceleration can be viewed as part of sales enablement, but without the right training and knowledge sales acceleration will fail. Arming your reps with just acceleration tools can be quite dangerous; if the inherent value of a tool isn’t explicitly explained or training isn’t provided, there’s a tendency use tools as a shortcut to a lesser outcome. Providing reps with sales tools with no formal training creates a vicious cycle when untrained “veteran” reps are incorrectly training new reps. Without the right training and mindset, sales acceleration tools are not aiding a sales enablement strategy at all.
- How should organizations define their sales strategies to make sure that they get the full benefit from sales acceleration tools?
While it’s undoubtedly important for salespeople to know what tools are available to their team and how they should be used, it’s also important to have the right metrics and KPIs in place to measure the tools’ effectiveness. Number of calls made, open rate percentages, and even response rate aren’t adequate in measuring sales acceleration tools’ success. Shift the focus towards measuring positive response rates and conversion rates, because that’s how you’ll repeat positive actions. Sales leaders should make it very clear what the goals of sales acceleration tools are and should align these goals with each sales process and tool. Encourage thoughtfulness, customer-centric thinking and well-aligned metrics, and you’ll get the most out of your sales acceleration tools.
- Why is personalization and customer-centrism so important in today’s cold sales outreach?
It’s no secret, but sales has changed. Customers know more about us, our companies, and our competitors than ever before. Because of this influx of information, expectations of personalization are much higher. But we also know more about our customers than ever before, and so do our competitors. You can assume if you’re not personalizing your cold outreach that your competitors are, so if you want to win personalization is key. There is no excuse for generic emails, and it’s important to understand your prospect’s needs or values in your initial outreach. Your prospects’ inboxes are cluttered as it is; why would they take time out of their day to respond to you—a stranger who is trying to sell them something—if your outreach is mundane?
- How can sales organizations reach the optimal balance between quality and quantity of prospect outreach?
This balance between quality and quantity is tricky because it differs for each organization. It takes a few attempts of targeting different size groups with varying levels of personalization to figure out what is best for your company’s outreach strategy. There is a way to craft a thoughtful email even if it’s by using a customizable template that’s going out to thousands of people.We know that one-off cold emails aren’t a sustainable or scalable practice, but also know that general mass emails are a waste of time. Sales reps should try to craft templates that address a specific buyer persona or audience’s needs, or include a few custom inserts (such as a recent publication the prospect or company was featured in) and see what the response rates are. At SalesFolk, we consider a 10-30% positive email response rate successful; if that isn’t attainable for your company you should consider reaching out to larger audiences or fine-tuning your messaging to reach more specific audiences. No market is infinite, so finding that balance is crucial.
- What is your biggest piece of advice for a sales organization looking to refine its sales prospecting/outreach strategy?
One actionable takeaway I can offer for sales leaders would be to encourage online and offline prospect research. It’s valuable for sales organizations to periodically have all reps do some research on their prospects in order to really understand what they need. Encourage all sales reps look at 10-15 different leads in an audience or vertical—on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social forums—and make note of certain key messaging, KPIs, pain points, likes, dislikes, and more. Sharing these findings with the entire sales organization helps create and refine buyer personas. Sales doesn’t do buyer personas well—even the ones created by marketing become quickly outdated. By discovering what content prospects are sharing, what they’re complaining about on forums, and what actually matters to them, you can actually start to understand them. It doesn’t take that much work but it will drastically improve sales calls, emails, demos and overall conversation.