Success doesn’t come without growing pains. As your operation scales, you need to find the most effective ways to scale your sales program to support growth without adding too much overhead. Expanding any sales team takes time and money, and in rapidly changing markets it too often seems like sales is always catching up. To sustain growth you need to be able to scale sales in step with the rest of the organization, and that takes a well-devised plan.
Adding sales personnel is timely and expensive. You have to consider the time required for recruiting, hiring, and training to make a new sales rep an effective contributor to the bottom line. Even if you can find the right professionals, it takes the average sales development rep more than four months to ramp up, which makes it challenging for sales efforts to keep pace with changing company needs.
There are other ways to scale your sales and stay competitive, even in a fast-paced market. Here are three strategies to consider:
Harness Sales Automation
Technology is your friend and, when properly applied, can help you scale your sales without adding headcount.
There is a number of mundane tasks that sales reps perform as part of their job that are not a good use of their time and skills. Prospecting to fill the top of the sales funnel, for example, is a poor use of sales rep time, as is lead qualification. Only 27 percent of B2B sales leads are considered “sales ready” when they enter the funnel. Forty percent of sales reps say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process, and at least 50 percent of prospects are a poor fit for your product or service. You want your sales team to be closing, so you should automate as much lead generation and qualification as you can.
Automating lead qualification is one way to scale sales effectiveness. Artificial intelligence can match leads against customer profiles to identify high-quality prospects. Using machine learning to match leads to the database, you can isolate those prospects that are most likely to close and should get immediate attention, and segment those that need to be nurtured by marketing until they are ready to buy.
Sales automation technology can also improve sales productivity, effectively scaling your sales efforts. For example, a Velocify study shows that placing a call to a prospect within the first minute they show interest increases the chances of conversion 391 percent, but if you wait 30 minutes it drops the odds to 62 percent. Coupling AI and sales automation tools can substantially increase productivity.
Hire More Sales Staff
As your organization grows, you will likely increase the size of your sales staff, but as we discussed above, hiring reps can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if you have an uneven growth trajectory.
Any way you look at it, hiring staff is costly. It costs an average of $4,129 for each new hire, and finding the right candidate takes about 42 days. Then there is the cost of onboarding. Sales training usually takes at least 10 weeks, but it can be 11 months before they are truly productive, which is a challenge if the average sales rep only stays for 1.5 years. And if you are using senior sales staff to onboard the newcomers, think about how much of their time is spent training rather than selling.
There are other costs as well, such as employee benefits, vacation time, facilities and equipment costs, and related expenses. Compare those costs to your sales goals and selling cycles. If you are trying to ramp up for seasonal sales or to launch a new product, then you may be hiring for the short term, making it difficult to justify recruiting and training overhead. You also have to plan for staff churn, because you will undoubtedly have to replace departing reps.
As your organization grows over time, you will want to strategically expand your sales force, but relying on hiring sales reps to quickly scale sales may not be efficient or cost-effective.
Outsource Sales Support
Outsourcing is a proven way to scale sales. Finding the right outsourcing partner lets you offload tasks such as prospecting so that your core sales team can focus on existing customers and highly qualified prospects. And outsourcing eliminates the need for additional overhead.
There are many distinct advantages to making Sales-as-a-Service a part of your strategy to scale your sales team, including:
- Availability: Outsourced sales organizations are able to ramp up quickly because they already have the staff and infrastructure in place.
- Scalability: Outsourcing also gives you access to resources that can scale with your needs. For example, if you need extra staff for a new product launch or to open a new territory or market, it’s easier to scale up with external resources than it is to hire more staff, and you can scale back without firing sales reps as soon as the project is complete.
- Agility: An ongoing challenge for any sales organization is the ability to adapt to changing needs quickly. Using an outsourced sales partner makes it easier to change focus or tactics to retain a competitive edge.
- Performance billing: If you were to scale your in-house sales team, then you’d incur fixed costs that can’t be avoided, such as infrastructure and salaries. By outsourcing, you’d have different options that might be better suited to your budget, whether you’d be paying at a fixed rate or based on measurable returns. And an outsourced sales firm is considered a resource, not staffing, which could be easier to absorb in your budget.
Sales-as-a-Service is becoming an increasingly popular approach for many B2B organizations looking to scale their sales operations. It gives you the maximum number of resources with minimal disruption and overhead.
No matter how you choose to tackle the problem, there are multiple ways to scale your sales infrastructure to meet changing demand. You will most likely want to use multiple strategies in tandem, but the important thing is to remain agile and minimize your costs in order to sustain growth.