How to manage your inside sales team

By boris, December 06, 2012

For many SaaS companies, the effectiveness of the inside sales team is the key to scaling up. After all, other marketing channels often either hit a ceiling (i.e. inbound marketing, PPC, etc.) or simply aren’t efficient enough (i.e. all offline marketing activities).

However, managing an inside sales team is tough and you need a well-oiled machine in order to get customer acquisition costs inline with other marketing channels.

The best book I ever read in this area comes from Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler: Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com.

The general premise is that companies need to specialize all the different activities involved in the sales process. They should have a dedicated person/team who is responsible for prospecting and generating qualified leads. And quota-bearing sales reps should be exclusively focused on engaged leads (meaning no prospecting).

Here are a few key tips from the book:

  • Get really clear on your ideal customer target and focus on generating good lead lists – both by using external databases like Data.com or ZoomInfo as well as by collecting customer data from the web (and ideally augmenting information by merging all data sources)
  • Targeted unsolicited emails are more effective than cold calls. Use simple text-based emails (not fancy HTML-email templates) and target an 8-12% response rate from high-level prospects
  • As mentioned above, separate roles should be used for prospecting for leads (sales development reps), following up with inbound leads (market response reps), closing deals (account executives), and maintaining accounts (account managers). Delineated roles drive better results and specialization of skills. Perhaps even more importantly, breaking up the roles yields more measurable results.
  • Use the following metrics to benchmark your own sales organization:
    • A full-time sales development rep should create 10-20 qualified leads per month
    • A full-time market response rep can handle 400 inbound leads per month

I recommend every founder of a SaaS start-up to read this book. It offers a great mix of high-level strategy and practical implementation advice.

P.S.: If you want to talk to somebody that has a lot of experience in sales, I strongly recommend speaking to Gabe Luna-Ostaseski on Clarity

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  • Great advice. Just bought the book on Kindle for $0.99!

  • wow, that is crazily cheap – I bought the hardcover for roughly $15 a while ago

  • Good call Mark! Thanks.

  • you can’t lose at that price 🙂

  • In our experience, LinkedIn messages have a stronger response rate than cold emails. We keep the messages short, and provide a link to a visual deck.

  • Great tip – hadn’t heard this before. Thanks for sharing, Fraser!

  • Guest

    You can’t be LinkedIn InMails for sure. Especially if you supplement them with a LinkedIn ad campaign that targets them.

  • You can’t beat LinkedIn InMails for sure. Especially if you supplement them with a LinkedIn ad campaign that targets them.

  • thank you Fraser. which linkedin plan do you use to send the mail volume you need to hit to grow sales?

  • We don’t use this strategy for the same volume as email. We do it for our highest value prospects. You can scale it somewhat by using more people in the co’s LinkedIn accounts. A little hackey, but what sales organization isn’t? 🙂

  • Great book! Mike and I both read this independently.

    One thing to note: the benchmarks vary pretty widely depending on your market (our sales development reps are quite a bit more productive than what the book outlines)

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