Are your sales development tools overloading your reps?

As a sales development manager, you do everything you can to increase your team’s velocity and get results. But, many of the things you do to make your team more effective also makes them (and you) less efficient.

Sales meetings, sales playbooks, lead tracking — the main tools you have to increase how well your team works — they all drag down how much time your team has to actually sell. We’ve analyzed the blow-by-blow, minute-by-minute work of sales development reps in multiple organizations. Here’s what we’ve found are the three worst speed bumps on the sales development road.

Meet Jane, director of sales development…

Let’s walk through an example: Our hero, Jane, the sales development director, has a new plan to contact leads from a trade show. She wants the team to follow a particular pattern – first call and email, then wait a day to follow up with a second email, then make a call the next day, and so on.  She has different email templates and call scripts for businessperson leads and technical person leads.

It’s all pretty standard stuff, but let’s look at how much time Jane spends to make it happen:

Speed bump 1: Playbooks.

To get ready for this project, Jane spends an entire morning writing up the plan and adding it to the sales playbook in order to train her team.  Sadly, Jane has to write a mini computer manual to cover all the logistics: the step-by-step of how to find the leads in the CRM system, how to claim them, where to find the right template, how to code them in the CRM system, and how to set reminders for when to make the next contact. All of this is on top of the basics of when to call versus email, how many days to wait for the next contact, etc.

Since there’s always a new project, writing playbooks takes up a pretty big slice of Jane’s week, time that she’d rather spend figuring out ways to increase conversions.  But at least this speed bump only takes up Jane’s time – the other two impact the whole team.

Speed bump 2: Training meetings.

Time is of the essence for this project: Jane wants to contact these leads as soon as possible, before the leads forget what they saw at the show (and since competitors are trying to reach them too). So Jane wants the whole team on this job. She takes the whole team off-line for an hour to go over the plan.

The sad thing is, only about 15 minutes of this time is spent covering the actual selling pitch. The rest of the time covers all the logistics, so the team knows how to follow all of the logistical details in the playbook. Jane tries to balance keeping the meeting short with actually feeling like her team understood all of the details of the new project.

Speed bump #3: Bookkeeping.

The most innocuous sounding speed bump – bookkeeping – is actually the most costly. Jane’s reps lose time mucking about with importing and exporting leads before they even get started. Then, before each contact, they have to find the next lead, mark it as theirs, and select the right template.

After they do the actual work of reaching out to the prospect, they have to record what happened in CRM, then look up in the playbook what the next action should be and when, and then create a reminder to do the next action at the right time.

In our work with customers we’ve found that, in many teams, the bookkeeping takes as long as the selling task itself — meaning that all this bookkeeping can consume half of a rep’s day!

Unfortunately, if Jane cuts out down on the bookeeping, her reps won’t be able to track how many times they’ve followed-up — and they’ll either waste time on leads that they’ve already hit ten times, or let valuable leads fall through the cracks.

But wait, don’t we have lots of sales tools?

Sales development is miles ahead of where it was just three years ago. Most teams use a stack of tools. So why is Jane (and the rest of us) still trapped using meetings, calls, and manual bookkeeping?

Let’s look at how today’s common tools help, but don’t solve Jane’s (or her team’s) real problem:

Diallers. Diallers are an incredible invention, but even the best don’t give Jane a way of outlining all of the steps she wants her reps to take. The playbook, the meeting, even manually setting reminders are all still needed.

Sales email tools. While these tools help manage templates, they also don’t give Jane a way to tell reps when to call next. So, again, it’s back to the playbook, the meetings, and the bookkeeping.

Sales automation tools. We have finally begun to see some tools that allow individual reps to set up sequences of emails and tasks. These save the rep the time it takes to set follow-up reminders after each contact. But most are still tools for the indvidual rep, who has to set up the sequence themselves. How do the reps know what to set up? You guessed it, by going to the meeting and reading the playbook.

What does the next level of sales development tools look like?

Most of the tools today are for the individual rep, not for Jane, and not for the team. What Jane and her team need is the ability to just pick the right plan and get back to selling. Once Jane picks the plan, the tool should fetch the leads, show each rep what to do next, fetch and fill the right call and email template. They shouldn’t be doing bookkeeping, they should just be selling.