Getting Incentive Schemes Right For SDRs

A solid incentive scheme can be a great way to encourage your team to hit those all-important targets when you work in outbound sales.

Make enough calls and bring in enough business, and you will receive a substantial reward for your efforts.

It sounds simple enough on paper, but the truth is that it can sometimes be hard to get an incentive scheme right.

Make it too hard to achieve target, and you run the risk of frustrating your team. Make it too easy, and you will lose a lot of that hard-earned turnover.

Even if you get your targets right, you need to think long and hard about the incentives you will offer.

We’ve put together this guide to help you work out an ideal incentive programme for your sales development representatives (SDRs) and what you can offer them by means of reward.

What targets and KPIs should I have in place?

Before we move into detail, we should explain the difference between targets and KPIs in relation to incentives. It’s easy to get them mixed up or use them interchangeably.

Targets are your outcomes, and KPIs (key performance indicators) are the activities that lead to an outcome being completed.

As an example, let’s take sales calls. In this case, the sales calls are the KPI, and the target is the number of sales calls you want your SDRs to achieve in a set time frame.

When you consider your targets, it’s essential to think about the following:

  • What will your KPIs be? This is dependent on your business model. Examples of KPIs you can use in sales include revenue, sales won and meetings booked
  • What will your target be? Your target needs to be attainable, but not so easy that everyone can hit it on the first phone call of the day. Make sure all your targets are:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Timely
  • Will any other team members be involved in your SDRs hitting their target? For example, say your target is number of sales won, and your SDRs pass their opportunities through to another salesperson to close. Their commission is dependent on the success of other people. This will need to be factored into the final figures

What are SDRs really motivated by?

As we’ve touched on in earlier blogs, members of your sales team are motivated by different things. It can be easy to assume that everyone is motivated by money; after all, we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Only 13% of people looking for a new job say it is because they want more money. This means there have to be other factors in play.

People in a sales environment can be motivated by:

  • Making a difference to the world
  • Career progression and development
  • Being recognised for the work they do
  • Freedom to spend time with friends and loved ones

Different motivations can lead to SDRs preferring various incentives for their work. For example, if someone is motivated by freedom, additional days off or shorter working hours can encourage them to hit their targets.

So, should I offer money as an incentive?

It honestly depends on your business and the staff that work for you. For some SDRs  – cash is still king, and they will appreciate a financial bonus for their hard work.

However, this strategy doesn’t work for all staff and can be expensive to maintain in the long term.

In the 1990s, Hewlett Packard launched performance-related pay for staff. The issue was that the targets set were too low, meaning about 90% of staff were eligible for commission. When Hewlett Packard realised its mistake and upped the targets, employees threatened to quit as they thought they were entitled to the extra incentives by default.

One thing to consider if you are offering money-based commission is how much your SDRs will be able to earn and how it compares to their base pay.

High commission and low base may incentivise your team to sell hard, but may lead to frustrated staff and high turnover. Low commission and higher base may deter ambitious salespeople, but lead to happier SDRs and improved job security.

Great sales incentives that will really motivate your SDRs

What type of incentives can you offer your SDRs that will encourage them to pick up the phone and start calling?

Interestingly, 85% of people would opt for a non-cash incentive if it was something they really liked the look of.

Here are a few of our favourites for you to consider.

Workplace incentives

These types of incentives make the working day easier and more fun for your sales team. The advantage of workplace-based benefits is that they are low-cost, making them an excellent option for businesses with a small budget.

For example, you could offer longer lunch breaks, parking spaces nearer the office or extra holidays for those who hit their targets.

You could even let your SDRs take control of the office Spotify playlist as a fun reward!

Experienced-based incentives

Experiences and outings are great incentives for staff, as they are seen as high value and are something tangible for your sales team to try and achieve.

Experienced-based incentives can range from a pair of cinema tickets or a trip to a spa through to a VIP experience at a music concert or sporting event.

The great thing about experienced-based incentives is that you can extend them to the whole team too. Has the entire sales team hit its target for the quarter? Treat everyone to a works night out!

Plus, your SDRs may document their experience on social media and tag you in, leading to extra publicity for your business.

Courses and training incentives

Some of your sales team may be motivated by the promise of personal and professional development and becoming the best version of themselves they can be.

Offering advancement opportunities can be a smart choice if this is the case. Your SDRs gain new skills to help them in their career, and you get to take advantage of what they learn in the workplace. It’s a win-win situation!

You could pay for them to complete an online course, let them have one-on-one time with a professional coach or give them paid time off to attend an upcoming conference.

Physical incentives

One of the best ways to thank someone is with a thoughtful gift, and your sales team is no exception. Providing a tangible prize works well as you can customise it to the specific team member as well as your own budget.

Tech, food, drink and gift cards are all brilliant options. One idea we love is to have lots of prize envelopes on a board in the office. The SDR picks one at random and gets a nice surprise!

In conclusion – how will you manage your in-house incentive scheme?

According to the Incentive Research Foundation, a high-quality incentive programme can increase staff performance by 44%. That’s potentially a lot of new sales leads and opportunities for your business.

Done right, an incentive programme can drive your SDRs performance and lead to positive outcomes. The challenge is working out how to implement it correctly.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to incentive schemes. The one that is right for your business will depend on your industry, your size, the outcomes you want to achieve and most importantly, the motivations of your sales team.

Take the time to choose the perfect incentive scheme, and both you and your SDRs can reap the benefits.

If you’d like further tips on managing your SDRs, our content series will provide you with all the information you need.

Visit our knowledge hub for blogs, webinars, and podcasts to help you create a positive sales team culture that will drive results.

Managing Team Culture In Your Outbound Sales Team

Managing and building a great team culture is essential for all parts of a business, but especially so for outbound sales.

Outbound sales is notorious for hiring quickly and low retention rates, both of which can have a negative impact on how team members work together.

A sales team with a poor team culture can quickly become toxic, resulting in low morale, low motivation and teammates that don’t trust each other.

In this blog, we will look at the top ways you can manage the team culture in your outbound sales department – all tried and tested by Team Air.

Why It’s Important to Get the Balance Right

When it comes to managing team culture, there is a fine line between getting results and looking after your team.

If your team is focused on nothing but getting results and putting sales above everything else, you run the risk of frustrating and alienating staff. Not only this, but if your team members feel they must make sales to keep their jobs, they will end up frustrating and alienating prospective customers too.

While looking after your team is essential, it’s important to ensure things don’t get too comfortable. If your sales staff don’t feel inclined to perform, then you end up not hitting targets. A bit of friendly competition amongst colleagues is perfectly fine.

It’s essential to get the balance right. Think about your team’s current culture and what side of the line you stand on.

Remote Working and the Effect on Team Culture

Managing team culture has faced significant challenges over the past year with the introduction of remote working.

It is easier to talk to other team members in an office, whether it is a quick chat as you walk past their desk or wait to get a coffee. However, when you work apart from one another, engaging with others gets a little more challenging.

The good news is outbound sales teams have adapted to this new way of working and have found new methods of managing team culture. Let’s look at some of them.

Eight Things You Can Do Today to Manage Your Team Culture

At Air Marketing, we have always placed a strong emphasis on creating a positive team culture. It’s not always been easy, especially as our business has grown, but we’re proud of how far our team has come over the years.

We spoke to our team leaders to find out their top eight tips for managing their team’s culture and keeping everyone motivated.

  1. Recognise People’s Achievements

By recognising your team’s achievements, you’re not only keeping staff engaged and making them feel valued but encouraging them to go the extra mile. The great thing about this technique is that you can do it in the office as well as remotely.

We like taking ten minutes on a Friday to celebrate the week’s achievements, looking at different campaigns and showing the value that individual team members have brought.

  1. Introduce a Little Friendly Competition

As we mentioned earlier on, a little competition, either in teams or between teams, can be a good thing. This motivates the best performers and energises those who may be behind in the rankings.

Our team leaders do this three times a week, sharing their screen and showing their team how they are performing compared to all the other outbound sales teams.

  1. Make Your Team Feel Like Part of The Business

When team members don’t know the role they play in your organisation, they can quickly become uninterested in what they do. By making your team commercially aware, they can feel like a part of something bigger.

Take the time to talk about what is happening in the wider business, both positive and negative.

  1. Treat Your Team as Individuals

As an outbound sales team, your team members all share the same goal – winning as much new business as possible. However, individuals in your sales team will be motivated in vastly different ways.

For example, while some team members might be motivated by career advancement, some are motivated by providing for their loved ones.

When you manage a team, manage each person in a way that brings out the best in them. Speak to all the members of your sales team and see what gets them out of bed every morning.

That way when you provide feedback, you can be sure the message sinks in.

  1. Be Approachable

Being a manager or team leader is hard. You’re not only responsible for your team’s well-being, but if targets aren’t met, you’re the one that’s ultimately responsible. One thing you can do to make things better for both you and your team is to be as helpful as possible.

Being approachable in your management style can help foster a strong team culture. Encourage staff to come to you with their concerns and questions, as well as any training needs they have.

  1. Check in Regularly

Providing regular feedback and letting your team have their say can help you be proactive and resolve minor issues before they become major problems.

A short daily meeting is often the best way to do this. Go around your team and see what their plans are for the day ahead. That way, if anyone needs a little extra help or isn’t sure of something, the whole team can offer their support.

You can also talk through the targets and leads, letting the team collectively know if they are on track for the week or month.

  1. Have a Positive Attitude and Drive Performance

It can be hard to be confident when staff are off ill, prospects aren’t picking up the phone, and you’re not going to hit your weekly KPIs.

However, did you know positivity is catching? There is a phenomenon called ’emotional contagion’ where people close to you subconsciously mimic your emotions.

This means by staying positive; your team are more likely to think positively too.

  1. Have Fun!

Finally, it’s essential to unwind and bond with the rest of your team. This helps improve communication and collaboration and can be a fantastic way to destress at the end of the working day.

The other advantage is that friendly colleagues are more likely to spur each other on to hit their targets.

Whether you go out for a meal after work or take part in a Zoom pub quiz, take some time to get to know each other.

Want to Find Out More About Setting up an Outbound Sales Team?

If you need help with building an outbound sales team, read more about our service here or call our Sales Director, Marco Alfano-Rogers, on 0808 599 0354 to discuss your requirements.  

If you’d like some further tips on how to manage your outbound sales team, our content series will provide you with all the information you need.

Visit our knowledge hub for blogs, webinars and podcasts that will help you create a positive  outbound sales team culture that will drive results.

Covering All Bases: How Air’s Collaborative Approach With Roots to Market Solves The Know-Like-Trust-Buy Funnel

The know-like-trust-buy funnel is a fairly common term in the world of sales and marketing—but what exactly is it? And why is it so important?

Essentially, the funnel details each vital stage that a potential consumer/business goes through before purchasing a product or service from your business. Within the concept are four fundamental touch points—each of which should be treated with equal and careful consideration to achieve the end goal of a successful customer journey and sale.

At the top of the funnel, we have ‘know’—the point at which a person discovers you, or your offering for the very first time. Whatever method this may be—social media, PPC, traditional advertising, etc—any experienced salesperson will vouch that these early impressions are critical in ultimately generating revenue further down the line.

The second stage is ‘like’. However you position yourself and whatever messaging you use needs to resonate with your target market, to the point they’re willing to delve further once their attention has been caught.

Next, we have ‘trust’. We live in an era where people have learned to be more and more sceptical about who and where they’re making a purchase from. This wariness has placed an even greater importance on the trust stage of the funnel, particularly for less established and emerging brands trying to break into a sector for the first time.

This is also the point where you really need to position yourself as an expert within your field. What can you provide this person with that gives you an edge over your competitors? If you don’t have that, or you aren’t clearly communicating it, odds are they’ll find someone who is.

Once you’ve ticked all of the above boxes, your customer should be ready to ‘buy’, or at least extremely close to it. We often see companies falling into the trap of thinking once a person reaches this stage, their business is secured—but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Despite all of the hard work that has gone in prior, it only takes a split-second for a person to be turned off by a bad sales experience, which is why it’s crucial to have an expert team on-hand to get things over the line at this final stage.

Streamlining the funnel with Air Marketing and Roots to Market

Naturally, making the funnel as smooth a journey as possible for the consumer is not only going to benefit in terms of this one sale, but a pleasant and memorable buying experience is exactly what is required to build a base of loyal, repeat customers in the long-term.

To successfully achieve this, both the marketing and sales elements of the experience need to work perfectly in tandem, complimenting each other throughout each stage and designed in a way that from that very first moment, the journey is pushing towards that last hurdle of a successful sale.

One of the most common problems we see with businesses is a struggle to combine both the marketing and sales elements of the funnel. They may be able to capture the person’s attention and their story is well-received, however, when it comes to trying to convert that interest into the all-important ‘buy’ stage, things begin to unravel.

Since 2018, we’ve been working alongside our sister company, Roots to Market, who specialise in marketing with a sales attitude—producing high-impact lead generation campaigns and creative marketing strategies, to seamlessly and successfully deliver this entire buying process to brands.

Outsourcing all elements of the consumer journey to one supplier doesn’t just save you time and resources in terms of communication and coordination between separate parties, it ensures each touchpoint is better aligned due to it all being built and handled by a single entity.

This massively reduces the chances of mistakes or drop-offs due to misunderstandings and incoherent messaging, and allows a strategy to be altered and optimised in a far more efficient manner than if you were having to arrange with two or three different contacts.

From a sales perspective, being able to share our input immediately in the initial stages provides a massive benefit, as it allows us to truly ensure that by the time the consumer/business reaches the final part of the funnel, they’re actually ready to buy as all messaging before has been tailored specifically towards this moment.

By operating this way, by bringing everything under one umbrella, we are able to constantly knowledge share from both a sales and marketing perspective between Air and Roots, while possessing the, often vital, ability to act with agility and deliver genuine ROI for our clients.

The results

A recent campaign with one of our clients who operate within the SaaS industry saw us take this two-pronged approach with Roots to Market and Air.

The client, who helps UK businesses apply for Series A funding and prepare for periods of growth through an expertly-led training programme, found that while their offering was indeed incredibly strong, it was difficult to market and they weren’t getting the conversions they had hoped.

In our collaborative approach, Roots crafted a full marketing strategy that combined email marketing, social media marketing and user journey consultancy. As the prospective customers shared details becoming marketing qualified leads (MQLs), all the vital information was fed back to the Air Marketing SDR team, who were then instantly able to pursue and convert the most qualified leads.

Over a three month period, this process meant we were able to deliver all the required benchmarks that allowed our client to run their next cohort. The campaign’s results included:

  • 40% average email open rate
  • +14 marketing qualified leads
  • 58,000 reach on Twitter
  • 300% increase in website traffic from email
  • 20% increase in direct website traffic
  • 95% increase in website traffic from social
  • 5% minutes on average spent watching video content on Twitter

Want to learn more about how we work side-by-side with Roots to Market to optimise the customer journey? We’d love to chat. Give us a call on 0345 241 3038 or email contact@air-marketing.co.uk.

Predicting Ramp Time And Quarterly Measuring: Why Tolerance For Failure Is Vital

Striking the right balance between healthy optimism and being necessarily realistic is crucial when it comes to predicting accurate ramp times and setting appropriate targets within a business. 

One of the most common mistakes when it comes to building and managing an outbound sales team is vastly overestimating what’s going to happen in a short space of time, and underestimating the challenges that come with the process before it becomes successful. 

Nothing in sales has ever happened overnight, and that sentiment rings even truer when discussing the hurdles that come with outbound. In this scenario, more than most, possessing a tolerance for failure, in terms of both the process and the individuals involved within it, is absolutely crucial for both short and long-term success. 

This idea—one that is still unfortunately very prevalent within our industry—that you can hire an SDR and have them ramp up to 100%, to perform at their absolute optimum in the space of just three months, is naive at best. Realistically, it’s going to take at least six months to get close to that highest level, in many cases it can take up to a full year. 

The lack of education and understanding surrounding the length of sales cycles is a major factor in these misconceptions. For instance, and this is hardly an uncommon scenario for a newly hired SDR: they book their first meeting in month two, they meet two weeks later, the prospective client takes a further two weeks to mull it over, then they hold a second meeting, then the client takes it to their next board meeting but doesn’t get time to discuss it, eventually it gets brought up in the next board meeting and finally, it gets signed off. 

Before you know it, and this is through no fault of your SDR, that whole sign-off process has turned into a three month operation, and could even be a whole six months on from the SDR actually joining the business.  

On top of that, you need to factor in further variables that can affect sales, such as seasonality, regulatory changes, economic shifts and even something as simple, but hugely disruptive, as a key person leaving the business. It’s never stagnant, it’s a constant process of improvement and it definitely doesn’t just peak after three months, then flatline from that point onwards. 

Outbound is one of, if not the hardest channel to find success with, especially in the short-term. It takes the longest time to generate a return, often has the longest sales cycles and generally offers the lowest conversion rates. The issue with all of that, is if you’re a small business attempting to scale, and something doesn’t work out the way you’d hoped, you don’t achieve the revenue you’d predicted, you really feel it and that experience sticks with you for a long time. 

These kinds of situations are a massive factor in many people’s attitude towards using outbound as a channel, and again, much of it comes down to a lack of education surrounding the time and resources that actually need to be pumped in to make it succeed. 

All of this means you have to modify the way in which you measure your team and business’ success. 

When deciding upon quarterly KPIs, these ramp times must be factored in accordingly. Don’t just make targets solely revenue-focused, it isn’t an accurate reflection of the work that might be going on behind the scenes and it’ll just appear that you’re failing, when in reality, things aren’t as black and white as that. 

Naturally, stakeholder alignment will come into play throughout this target-setting process, and ensuring the relevant figures are informed and supporting your approach is absolutely crucial. Getting everyone on the same page and forging this understanding early will save a lot of headaches further down the line when it comes to feeding back the numbers. 

Devise and agree on a series of ambitious, but realistic milestones throughout the year, again, ones that aren’t just focused on revenue. Month one could be useful learnings, month three for pipelines, six months for opportunities that look like they could close and then solid revenue targets at 12 months. Of course, these timelines will differ on a business-by-business basis and will fluctuate depending on the length of your own average sales cycles. 

With all that being said, the great thing about outbound sales in comparison to other channels, is once you do hit a point where you ramp to 100%, you can take those vital learnings to shape your future operations and the scope for growth becomes colossal.

Things will begin to snowball and it becomes extremely scalable. Once you evaluate and understand the metrics behind the success, you can begin to layer in more SDRs, or you introduce better technology that allows those SDRs to flourish. 

It’s a massive contrast to inbound sales, where once you’ve maximised your budget and reached everyone in your network – you hit a ceiling. With outbound, when you approach it in the right way, with the right mindset and with that tolerance for failure, that ceiling doesn’t exist. 

For more information on truly understanding how to predict ramp time and adjusting your quarterly measurements accordingly, tune into our Founder & CEO, Owen Richards appearance on The SaaS Sales Performance Podcast. 

Alternatively, we’d be happy to chat through any queries you have in evaluating your outbound sales approach, get in touch now.  

How To Structure A Successful B2B Cold Call

When it comes to structuring a successful B2B cold call, the first thing to remember is that there’s no silver bullet, golden ticket, or magic words to guarantee you’re going to make a sale with every call. The truth is that this is less of a science and more artistry, but like any art, preparation can be the difference between success and failure. 

Before delving any deeper into this topic, it’s important to define what a “successful” cold call is. Our findings indicate that the majority of cold calls end without a sale, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t successful. If your definition of success is a sale, then you’re going to spend a lot of your time disappointed. The point of a cold call is to identify a good fit for the product or service you’re selling, as identifying if the product or service doesn’t fit, is just as valuable. 

Ultimately, you’re there to create a conversation with the prospect and being too focused on the wrong outcome can cause the conversation to fail. 

Things that people tend to do well 

Now, this is complicated, as we’ve already said, it’s an art form and as such, your personality plays a big part in how this conversation forms. There are, however, some simple techniques that Sales Professionals use to help steer the conversation and prevent it from stalling before it gets started. 

Language and human behaviour: 

This is hugely influential in the conversation, so plan and prepare. Regardless of whether you are B2B or B2C, there is another person involved at the other end of the phone. The most human question of all is “What’s in it for me?” and, even if this isn’t said out loud, it will be at the front of the persons mind you’re speaking to. If, as a seller you can put yourself in the position of the prospect and answer this challenging question, there’s a good chance you can keep their attention long enough to have a conversation. 

Body language: 

Believe it or not, body language can also be a factor. Do what feels natural but make each person you talk to feel that they are the most important call you’ve had. And don’t forget to smile! It comes across in your voice, as does your posture. 

Scripts: 

It’s important to structure what you’re going to say. There is nothing wrong with a script but learn and test it – put yourself in the prospects’ position to see what your responses are. If you say the same thing as everyone else and the gatekeeper or prospect has heard it a thousand times, you will get the answer they have given a thousand times. 

Tone of voice: 

Your tone of voice can also help with the conversation along with the language you use. There are certain phrases that trigger the sales alarm in peoples’ heads and ways to say the same thing that elicits a different response. Low and slow is how people talk when they are relaxed and comfortable. If you turn into a children’s TV presenter and babble your way through, the prospect will disengage. 

Treat the prospect like an equal – you have a solution to a problem they’re likely to have. The key is to find out if this prospect has that problem now, or is likely to have it in the near future. 

Things that people tend to do wrong 

There is no such thing as the perfect structure, unless of course you know the prospect well. If we assume you don’t, then there are some general pit falls to avoid. 

A lack of honesty and transparency: 

Honesty is the best policy with the prospect, so let the prospect know from the outset what you’re calling for and how the conversation will go. If you can explain that you will only take a few minutes of the prospects’ time and if, after that the solution doesn’t fit, you’ll part friends with no hard feelings, and they’ll likely keep you in mind for the future. Framing the call in this way also helps people to relax, as they understand what is expected of them. 

Not drawing and keeping the prospect’s attention: 

Get the prospect’s attention, don’t just be the same salesperson they have previously hung up on. People buy from people, so don’t ask them something you don’t want an answer to. “How are you today?” can be a great question but is completely wasted if you then talk over their answer or fail to listen to what they say. Starting with something like, “I’m just looking at your website now” might just interrupt the usual sales call pattern, enough for them to take an interest in why you’re looking. 

Without teamwork, you can’t make the dream work: 

Try to get on the same team as the prospect. If you imagine you are having a conversation across the garden fence, you need to climb over the fence and remove the barrier, so you see things the same. This becomes essential when they have an objection. It’s never a good idea to argue or to dismiss their objection with something flippant like “We’re not like that”. Again, try and work from the same side of the fence, empathise and agree… “that’s terrible when that happens, I understand”. It’s basic human nature that when people tell you “You’re wrong”, you dig your heels in and the alarm bells start. Even if you know you’re wrong, you won’t agree with them. 

Focusing too much on the sales pitch and not the conversation: 

The importance of planning the call is crucial, so it’s vital that you have thought about all the possible reactions of your prospect and have a plan to bring the conversation back on track. This is a conversation, but you need to remain in control and steer it down a course that suits you. 

One very important part of the conversation that most people forget to plan, is the end of the call. You have outlined the conversation to the prospect and said if this isn’t a good fit you will part as friends and if that’s the case, as it will be most of the time, then do what you have said. For that small percentage of calls, which end with the prospect wanting more, it’s not good if you don’t know what to do next. Ensure that if the prospect wants you to go into more detail, you are prepared to or at least you can book an appointment for this to happen and move them into the discovery stage. The last thing a prospect wants is to be enthused about your offer and then find you are completely unprepared for the next step. 

Interested in learning more? Check out this insightful episode of ON AIR: With Owen where our Founder & CEO, Owen Richards, chats to 6th Door Founder, Chris Dawson, about this subject in more detail. 

To be successful in cold calling you need to understand your customer, their challenge and how your offer provides a solution. If you’d like guidance and support with structuring your next B2B cold call, we can help; get in touch today or download our FREE B2B Cold Call Script Template

Sales And Marketing Alignment: A Meeting Of Equals Drives Better Revenue Generation

sales and marketing alignment strategy is more than just mandating two teams work together; it’s a finely-tuned mechanism that drives better sales for your company. To implement a successful alignment strategy, you need to change to tackle behavioural change, culture change and leverage technology and processes that drive mutual respect, understanding and genuine collaboration between sales and marketing professionals. 

Louis Fernandes, VP of Sales at Uberall and SaaS marketing and sales thought leader, talks about the need to work in partnership: “In B2B sales organisations, behaviours need to change; it’s not about marketing serving sales or sales ruling the roost. Sales and marketing need the same drivers; that’s how you build an authentic environment for success where all functions work towards a common goal and deliver revenue generation. It’s that simple! It’s all about working in partnership, I’ve worked in both marketing and sales, and I’d strongly advocate for congruence of goals that we work towards together, where we’re measured in the same way. It has to be a meeting of equals. And profitability will certainly follow.” 

If sales and marketing aren’t working together towards a common goal, it’s impossible to maximise your inbound and outbound strategies; and improve your overall understanding of your market and customers. The key to this process is sharing information and promoting transparent ways of working. For example, marketing and sales must understand where the budget goes and what that activity drives. Without this visibility, they’ll likely misinterpret their spending, leading to wasted money and effort and negative perceptions. The end game is teamwork and trust, investing time and resources in a focused and efficient way. Sales teams feel far more supported in their efforts, and marketers feel invested in sales follow-up processes and accountable for optimisation throughout the entire journey. 

Creating an environment that integrates well: 

Putting the right processes in place means that you can move quickly and efficiently as a team. Choosing the right tools and having an effective marketing and sales tech stack allows you to create an environment that permeates and integrates well, so everyone feels comfortable and supported.  

Historically, marketers used their own methods of tracking conversions and determining profitability, while sales teams focused on relationships and closing. Sales teams could email contact lists and make recommendations to the marketing team based on sales success or where’d they achieved cut-through. And while this strategy was solid for quick results, it naturally excluded many profitable or high-converting prospects in the pipeline. It was harder to measure, and many implementations required high levels of collaboration and coordination between teams. 

Businesses with a more holistic view of their marketplace are more likely to succeed. With the insights afforded by a high-performing CRM and tech stack, it’s far easier to shift focus to solving customers’ problems rather than trialing a range of products and services for traction and success. It’s for this reason Account-Based Marketing strategies see such a solid return on investment. It’s often the first concerted effort to align marketing with sales and pull together to achieve the same vision. 

Demand generation specialists, Roots to Market, are experts in optimising the sales-marketing relationship. HubSpot Gold Partners are hyper-focused on using the platform’s leading technology to deliver more for customers. Associate Director, Verity Studley-Wootton, said, “The most significant benefit of bringing marketing and sales touchpoints into one powerful system is the ability to create a single version of the truth in a business. By doing this, we uncover a far clearer picture of customer behaviours and the opportunity to understand better and ultimately successfully market to them and convert them into happy, loyal customers.” 

Create a list of objectives that you can agree upon, and action them: 

Having well-defined objectives is a prerequisite to successful alignment. However, it’s not enough to have goals in mind; you need a plan to deliver. Talk to your sales team to find out what questions they get asked by your customers. From there, you can analyse sales processes alongside campaign performance and integrate any improvements that would come quickly and easily to your sales team. Once you start a conversation with your ideal customers, you can build consistency and brand into the customer journey by empowering your sales team with the assets and content they need to convince prospects, solve their pain points and close deals. And this is where you can map what’s required, at what point, and assign ownership. 

Implement a feedback loop for better alignment throughout your organisation: 

The key to getting buy-in for your sales and marketing alignment strategy is to give your entire organisation visibility of the implementation process, so customer service, IT and operational units can mobilise to support. 

Implement a feedback loop. Tell people in the business what you’re going to do, why it matters and share the results. This way, they’ll know what they can expect, and you’ll see if you need to make any changes. When you share why this is important and how it will make the entire business more profitable, perceptions change. When you share how it will improve your customer’s experience and drive growth, accessing the technical and administrative support, you need to improve processes around automation, customer service, and CRM suddenly becomes a much easier sell. 

Evaluate the results, then adjust your strategy to respond to your customer: 

Once you’ve put together a strategy, it can be easy to get complacent and assume that it’s working just because you see traffic and sales. However, it’s essential to ensure you’re still getting the results you want by regularly checking your analytics and sales numbers. 

The absolute joy of alignment happens when you win! Marketing and sales teams can celebrate success together. Equally, when something falls flat, the learning opportunities are so much more valuable in a naturally joined-up environment, so you fail fast and, hopefully, rarely.  

Air Marketing’s sister company, Roots to Market, was formed in 2016 to address this need and help deliver results-driven marketing that better aligns with sales goals. With an increasing number of clients unsure of how to run aligned marketing campaigns and turning to us for expert advice, we saw an obvious gap in the market. Today, we rely on the combined expertise in both organisations to deliver the best possible results for clients and each other; in fact, Air was one of Roots to Market’s first clients.   

If you’d like to talk more about driving better sales and marketing alignment in your business, we can help. Get in touch today.  

Building Your Sales Tech Stack: How To Get The Right Balance

Sales Technology has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry in the past decade. With so many tools out there, it’s hard to work out the essentials from the nice-to-haves. The phrase ‘building your sales tech stack’ implies you should be using layer upon layer of technology to enable your sales processes. We can tell you right now; it’s utterly dependent on your goals and your setup. Even the most tech-savvy sales leaders find it impossible to stay at the leading edge of sales technology; it’s a vast marketplace, and the options can be overwhelming. Who has time to review and analyse thousands of tools? 

In our view, sales technology is there to empower salespeople, enhance their skills and make their lives easier. If you can automate a sales process and reduce administrative burden, therefore freeing up time for the vital relationship building that’s key to successful prospecting, then go for it! If you’ve heard from your network that you must buy this new market insight tool, even if your gut feel is you have a pretty good handle on your market research already, it’ll be three months before anyone in your team has time to own it, trust your instincts and park it for the time being. 

How do we make the most of the sales technology available? How does a business decide what they need to adopt and when? Here’s our steer on the options available. 

Understanding the options 

CRM: Your CRM is the foundation of your tech stack, whether you choose a market leader like Salesforce or MS Dynamics or something more bespoke and focused on your specific industry. It’s ideal if you use a platform that supports collaboration with third-party apps, so your technology works together and delivers better overall visibility. Even the smaller providers offer integration across apps, supporting a better sales ecosystem. 

Ideal for: everyone! 

 Sales and marketing automation: With systems like Marketo and HubSpot, you can drive a more valuable inbound experience and target campaigns at the right audiences, nurturing customer and prospect relationships in the right way, maximising your interactions and ensuring a better experience for everyone who interacts with your brand. 

Ideal for: businesses that need to optimise their inbound efforts and drive better customer experience. 

Sales engagement platforms: Products like Outreach, SalesLoft and Mailshake fall under this umbrella. Their value lies in automating sales processes and consolidating conversation intelligence from your CRM and Marketing Automation systems – streamlining processes, bridging gaps and ultimately saving your salespeople time. 

Mailshake and SalesLoft support time-saving integrated dialers. Outreach allows users to manage all prospecting activities from one interface. And VanillaSoft offers queue-based lead routing saving, so your salespeople call the warmest lead next. 

Ideal for: businesses with multiple campaigns who want to boost collaboration, improve productivity and hit rate. 

Communication tools: If your sales strategy is outbound calling, there are many tools to support your agents, save time and some platforms, like Dialpad, provide feedback and learning as they go. Tools such as Aircall automate post-call processes and build better insights for teams directly from your CRM – reducing time spent on admin. 

Ideal for: teams that make a high volume of calls, need to improve conversion rates, improve contact rates or want real-time feedback to support training. 

Email management and integration: Suppose your sales teams preferred method of contact is email. In that case, there are thousands of tools available, from those that deliver and integrate insights from your CRM to your sales teams’ inboxes to those that measure email success rates and response times and even those that import email addresses from LinkedIn activity (like Contactout and Lusha). The aim is to bring intelligence and measurement to the familiar workflow of email. 

Ideal for: sales teams that rely on email for outreach and need to optimise email engagement and data accuracy. 

Lead generation and prospecting: There is a new wave of tools that help you identify and reach your ideal buyers. Powered by AI and machine learning, platforms such as Cognism and Growbots promise to automate the tedious and time-consuming parts of prospecting, leaving your teams to focus on closing warm leads that are more likely to buy. 

Ideal for: sales teams stretched thin between premium accounts, managing existing relationships and pipeline building activities. 

Sales insight and market intelligence: In a competitive marketplace bombarding decision-makers with broad sales messages won’t achieve cut-through. These tools arm salespeople with actionable insights that support intelligent sales conversations and provide accurate prospect info for your sales teams. Some tools can prioritise prospects who are ready to buy; others like UpLead act like enriched, searchable databases. 

Ideal for: organisations looking to break new markets or struggling to get traction in their target market. 

Never underestimate the human element of sales 

Relationship building and making genuine connections is the key to successful outbound sales. No technology can replace the skills and experience of a talented and resilient sales expert. Still, it can bring you closer to your customers and help create an authentic experience that supports the excellent service you already deliver at every point in the sales cycle. Your sales tech stack has to reflect that and add value to your current setup. You can buy a billion tools, but with no process development or proper integration, there’s a fair chance you’ll create more work and unwanted distractions for your team. Equally, without an overarching sales strategy or direction, the tools won’t be worth the investment. They’ll undoubtedly connect you to more prospects, but it’s up to you to nail the qualification criteria and create value from those new audiences. 

Weighing up the cost 

Consider a new sales hire’s salary costs and the additional cost when you load them with sales technology that runs into thousands a month. Are they delivering higher productivity in line with the extra costs? This is all down to personal experience; some sales leaders believe the investment is worthwhile, provided you train the new hires on the technology, and the profitability will come. Others think it’s an overcomplication, and you need to give salespeople greater autonomy in this area, letting them adopt the tools they prefer, such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator

In conclusion, sales technology can be incredible and often well worth the investment, but they’re not a cure-all for sales challenges. Any new tools you adopt must become a seamless part of your workflow, save time or deliver inherent value for your team. Trust your instincts. You know if a tool is likely to be welcomed and deemed valuable based on your culture. 

If you need advice navigating the sales technology landscape, we can help; get in touch today. 

Selecting Your Channels And Designing Your Sales Approach: The Key To Achieving Cut-Through In Your Market

Selecting your channels and designing your sales approach: the key to achieving cut-through in your market

We live in such a connected and always-on world, increasingly enriched with digital experiences, it’s hard to conceive that not everyone is just at the end of an email, phone, or WhatsApp message. Yet there are still people out there who don’t spend the highest proportion of their working day in a digital space. In other professions the lines are blurring, and research shows the pandemic has given rise to different channels and ways of connecting, even disrupting the sales cycles in some industries. In recent months, video and live chat have been the breakout stars. And research shows that 70% of B2B decision-makers say they are open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases over $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000. That’s a significant shift from the perception of e-commerce as high volume, low-value sales.

Why is this important?

Choosing the right channels and tools is crucial to improving your sales numbers. In fact, understanding what your prospective buyer requires to make a decision about your products and services, empowers you to invest your time where it matters.

Keep your customers’ needs at the centre of your decisions

Imagine your primary buyers are busy hospitality professionals who spend minimal time at their desks and don’t have a wealth of time to peruse content online, they might really need the cut-through of a conversation to kick off any discussion around their buying decisions. Your plan will therefore look very different from one targeting CIOs in Fintech companies shopping for accounting software, or HR leaders procuring performance management software systems. For the latter examples, you may need to invest more time in your inbound strategy. For the former, a well-crafted script for an initial phone conversation, followed by links to engaging product information and an easy way to book a demo, might be just the ticket.

Find the parts of your sales cycle that need attention

This part can be tricky because it requires an honest assessment of how well your current strategy performs and forces you to examine undiscovered territory. Say you are limited to one or two channels, and there’s no formal funnel for your prospects; this leaves little room for optimisation and doesn’t give you much data visibility.

Where do you close most of your deals? And where do you find yourself fighting to stay in the game? If you’ve never diverged from the tried and tested phone call, how’s it working for you?

If your preferred outreach method is a phone call, are your sales team spending a lot of time aggregating follow-up content for the prospect before the conversation can proceed to the next stage? Do you find it difficult to get hold of senior decision-makers? Is it a challenge to articulate your offer over the phone?

The answers to these questions provide the insight you need to optimise and design your contact sequences. If the conversation with the key decision-maker is happening too early in the cycle, you could be squandering the opportunity to close the deal because you need to spend time generating awareness. It’s far more efficient to educate your prospects through outreach emails that give greater context to the problem you solve, or pose a challenge that sparks a conversation. Similarly, signposting to relevant video content could expedite your process, allowing your discussions to begin from a position of shared understanding.

Assess which channels and tools meet your needs:

There are numerous ways to integrate your user’s experience, from website transactions, payments processing, cross-selling, coupon codes, tracking, and maintenance, to name but a few. Whether your business sells products, services, or your sale is a more consultative, longer burn, you can create an experience that adds value at every stage of the pipeline.

Sales and Marketing integration is so important to your success in this area. When you work with your marketing department, you can use the content they create as a sales tool to attract potential buyers into the sales funnel. They can proactively help you find channels where potential customers search for answers your service provides, whether that’s through a more targeted social strategy or integrated live chat into your website. All of the above strengthens the quality of leads in the funnel, enabling you to establish strong business relationships with your buyers and gain their trust.

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it gives you an insight into which strategy might best serve your audience:

Social selling: through leveraging your networks and building relationships on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, you can start conversations, respond to comments and engage with broader discussions about the challenges affecting your prospects. On LinkedIn especially, dialogues can easily migrate from the comments sections into a more formal approach. It also makes sense to talk shop where your competitors are hanging out, conversations are already in-flight, and people expect a sales approach. Here, the relationship is central to the sale, so this channel is best-suited to longer sales cycles that require more nurturing and time investment. You can complete your entire sales cycle via social selling, but it works best when used in conjunction with other channels and you migrate to a video call or meeting.

Email: Email works best when it’s personal but not presumptuous; a well-written email with an attention-grabbing subject line can pique interest. Generic, catch-all email blasts will never have the desired effect. Still, if you can segment your audiences and trigger relevant email content based on their buyer behaviours, you boost your chances of conversion. Even innovative templates that allow for some degree of personalisation and offer a gift such as a guide or a download can nudge your prospect in the right direction and helps you earn the right to a more in-depth conversation.

Phone call or video chat: Conversation is undeniable; even the most introverted amongst us get value from human connection. Where the phone call punctuates the sales cycle is entirely up to you. For some organisations, it’s their only strategy. Without a vast pool of potential buyers or a killer elevator pitch, it’s easy to burn through a database without getting real traction. Sales are about persistence, but it’s also advisable to align your sales approach with your buyer’s needs. If your buyers prefer to research online, amp up your inbound and digital outreach ahead of making calls. If your audience is tech-savvy, deliver innovative video content and let their response drive the conversation forward.

Live chat:  Live chat is one of the most potent sales tools out there. It enables direct real-time interaction with visitors to your website, capturing their immediate needs. It’s a valuable touch-point, but it works best where there are definitive answers, or you have a mechanism to book a demo.

Every business can benefit from a solid inbound strategy: Ample opportunities for prospective customers to research marketing content, participate in live webinars to see how your products solve their problems and lead to better quality, which means more qualified leads for your sales team.

Build an integrated tech stack that supports your prospect’s journey: A data-driven sales culture means that your sales representatives and managers monitor essential information that drives your business, such as sales dates, sales cycles, customer satisfaction and outbound activities. Business intelligence tools that centralise and combine data from your CRM, LMS, telephony and VoIP systems (and integrate with marketing automation systems) offer the best opportunity to examine where you’re experiencing drop-offs in engagement. You can therefore fail fast and fix things quickly, so your approach evolves with your market.

Getting started:

Armed with a plethora of tools and insight, you can continually optimise your sales approach. But this is the real world, not everything happens in the correct order, and we understand that not every business has the resources or the time to invest in systems and software. Optimising your prospect’s experience and driving better data visibility starts with setting up some joined-up internal processes. Even simple things like well-crafted follow-up emails, customer surveys and regular communications can drive better retention and increase sales success.

If you need guidance designing your sales approach, we can help. Contact us

Data strategy and ideal customer profile: why it matters and how to get it right

In sales, data can make or break your campaign. If your list is too generic, you could burn through time having irrelevant conversations, too narrow and miss out on valuable opportunities that fall just outside your perceived ideal target.

Your data strategy matters; done well, it provides a blueprint and foundation for your organisation’s success. Your data strategy should determine who your business is talking to and where you drive awareness of your products and services. It’s a powerful driver for the direction of your business and where you want to be, so it’s worth investing time in it.

How you build your lists will depend on various factors, including your salespeople’s autonomy and experience, whether or not you use data insight or sales tools, and factors such as your deal sizes and target audiences.

You may have a well-defined ideal client profile, or you might still be trying to figure it out. Wherever you are on that journey, and while perfect data doesn’t exist, there are key approaches you can take to make sure you’re eliminating who you can’t sell to, and you’re fishing in the right pond.

Think about your total addressable market. What does that look like? It might be broader than you’ve considered, or you may have plans to break new markets. Are you successful in the demographic where you currently expend time and effort, or has the success been organic rather than based on any market insight?

There are simple surface-level observations you can make; if you’ve failed to gain traction in a particular market or with a specific group of decision-makers, there may be reasons. Say you have aspirations to land contracts with large corporates, if you regularly encounter objections to sale or periodically lose out to larger competitors, it could be as something as simple as you’re not on the preferred supplier list or don’t fit a procurement profile. Perhaps it’s more challenging to engage your services, so regardless of the quality of your pitch, you’ll struggle to get a foot in the door. But in smaller or mid-sized companies with different buying behaviours and traits, you’d have far more success.

When you’re buying data, some nuances can completely skew the entire focus of your dataset, especially when selecting the right decision-makers. It’s wise to think laterally and consider the minor but significant differentiators. It’s the difference between targeting IT management in mid-sized pharmaceutical companies but not including business owners where no IT leader exists: you could be missing out on vital conversations with founders and owners with a requirement for your services or misjudging where the buying power sits. Similarly, suppose you’re running a programme targeting major financial services companies and don’t specify head office / corporate HQ. In that case, you could contact branches with large numbers of staff but have to defer to the main group for purchasing decisions.

Being too niche

Every business has reasons for being very targeted. Some are justified, some haven’t thought too deeply about why and some don’t know! If you focus solely on large enterprises, you may be reaching (on average) one-two relevant decision-makers a day. Again, how do you judge company size on revenue or number of employees? Some start-ups have incredible profitability per employee and actual buying power thanks to investment; it’s not worth passing up those conversations just because they might not fit into a narrow paradigm of ideal client profile.

Accessing quality data

It’s a fact that data ages quickly, with senior leadership changes, mergers and thanks to the pandemic, more businesses going remote and keeping on fewer offices. You can expect some data dilution; even the most reputable data providers cannot guarantee perfect data.

You can empower your sales teams with tools that can enhance their research ability, which helps them build compliant, accurate and integrated lists in real-time. Many powerful tools on the market, like Lusha, Cognism and HubSpot, can accelerate prospecting efforts and drive a better culture around data. Especially in businesses where sales teams have greater autonomy and ownership overbuilding their prospect lists.

Equally, there is an argument that sales teams that are researching and refining their client lists are spending less time at the coalface, actually selling to and speaking to prospects. If your product is high volume and a relatively straightforward sale, spending vast amounts of time researching and gathering insight might not be the right approach.

Finding the balance

Sales leaders should own and drive data strategy. How you build your data lists centrally helps you set a strong direction for your team. You can churn data and fail fast, using data analytics to help you shape and improve your targeting, or instead use a centrally built list as a foundation and refine using sales tools and desk-based research. There’s no right or wrong approach. Some of this preference is driven by your sales culture and your own experiences but provided you’ve invested time and consideration into your data strategy and how you build your prospect lists, you’re in a great starting place.

If you’d like to discuss your data strategy, we’d be happy to help. Call our Client Operations Director, Shaun Weston, on 0345 241 3038 or email shaunw@air-marketing.co.uk.

Conversion expectations: are you being honest with yourself? (Spoiler alert: maybe not!)

A very wise person once said, ‘Honesty is the soul of business.’ And it’s reflecting on that honesty, at every stage in your strategy, that will lead to long-term success. You can apply the same logic to customer conversions. We’ve seen every business model out there, strategies propelled forward by sheer hope alone, while others prepare for the worst, so any wins, however small, smash all expectations.

When it comes to achieving goals, an in-depth look at how much of your pipeline converts into sales will arm you with the knowledge you need to plan, giving you a clear indication of what can be achieved when you break down the numbers.

Work backwards to go forwards.

How many new customers do you need to onboard a month? It can really help to work backwards. If it’s 10 new customers, do you know, typically, how many leads you need to bring in to achieve that? How many must convert to proposals, and from there, what’s your average win-rate? With a little working out, it’s easy to see where the gaps are.

And if you’re honest, do you consistently invest enough in your best-performing channels to regularly hit the number of leads you need to win those 10 new customers you’re shooting for? If you run seasonal campaigns that affect the number of leads in specific months, or your calendar has industry-wide buying trends, the answers may surprise you.

Setting achievable goals based on track record.

Many businesses have this ideal target figure for new business, but a few key considerations will affect how realistic achieving this will be for them. Firstly, have you ever achieved this before? If yes, what were the contributing factors to your success? If you regularly acquire 50% of your new business target, you need to look at what you need to do differently now to achieve your sales goal.

Data really does tell a story. Therefore, accurate data reporting and a proficient CRM system are essential to understanding historical patterns and any limiting factors in your business that might impact your typical conversion rates. Armed with this knowledge, you have a much greater understanding and visibility of your sales environment and any gaps you need to address.

Meaningful planning that delivers ROI.

We work with our clients to create a cash flow forecast, which leverages the aforementioned data insights and shows how an investment in their outsourced sales function will deliver over a 2-year period, showing expected (and realistic) ROI and timeframes. We know from experience that a consistent programme of activity will deliver results, some quick wins, but they will also be those prospects that will come to fruition months from now. In a quick-win culture, 2 years can seem like an eternity, but actually, it’s a virtuous circle, whereby the investment you make today will pay dividends far beyond the life of your campaign.

Honesty is a two-way street, so we’re always completely transparent about ROI and our projections. If you need a faster return on investment than our forecast predicts, it’s important to think carefully before investing in outsourced sales as campaigns do not deliver miracles and require time to deliver results.

If you’d like to have an honest conversation about your sales goals and how our outsourced sales experts can help you achieve them, get in touch, call 0333 250 3217 or email contact@air-marketing.co.uk.