One of the questions I often get is around the structure of an Inside Sales Team. Hopefully this brief blog posts helps you answer this question. If there are any additional questions or comments, please leave us a note below.
Inside sales organizations are built around the premise of specializing your sales team into 4 core sales roles. They are:
- Lead Response Representative (LRR)
- Business Development Representative (BDR)
- Account Executives (AE)
- Customer Success Manager (CSM)
The main reason for these 4 role types are because they are distinct sales motions or actions. There is a clear hand-off process between each role. Each role requires specific strengths, experience level, and skill set. It is for these same reasons that it can be challenging to get this right. Many organizations that have tried to launch a specialized inside sales team, experience failure, and go back to their old way of doing things.
There is an art and science to doing this right and it's important to follow a specific sequence when implementing this approach. The purpose of this article series is to help clarify the process and pave the way for a successful implementation of this sales model.
For now, I would encourage you to ask your Account Executives (or sales team if your current structure is flat) one simple question: “what percentage of your time do you spend on prospecting for new business, closing deals, and account management?” If your highly paid, highly skilled AEs are spending less than 50% of their time educating qualified prospects and closing deals, there is a good business case to hire a BDR. The truth is AEs usually hate prospecting and they're not that good at it, but they can close deals and following up is second nature to them. BDRs on the other hand are typically young and hungry college graduates that are eager to make a name for themselves and start their career path in sales. They love prospecting and generating new leads and they don't require much training to do this right. By generating qualified leads for your veteran AEs you allow them to focus on what they're good at, close more deals, and follow up on their opportunities. In fact, 75% of business is lost due to lack of follow up, yet this is often the most overlooked part of any sales funnel. By taking prospecting off the plate of your AEs they can dedicate their time to these high value activities.
When hiring BDRs you typically want to match them up with one or two AEs. They should become a cohesive unit. The BDRs job is to learn from the AE and support them in their role. They tee up pre-qualified appointments; send agenda emails, schedule reminder calls, and rebook as necessary. AEs typically love BDRs because they make their lives easier and generate more sales for them. Typically one BDR can generate 10-15 qualified sales opportunities (QSOs) per month.
LRR's are required when you have 300-500 or more inbound leads per month. They are the first point of contact for inbound leads and their objective is to respond to inbound leads within 5 minutes or less. Studies show that this leads to much higher contact rates and higher conversion. With the right inbound lead flow LRR's can generate upwards of 40-60 QSO's per month.
Both the LRR and BDR roles act as a triage of sorts where they generate awareness and interest in the product or service. They ask a series of qualification questions to determine fit for the offering and eliminate the most common reasons for a lost sale (decision maker / timeline / budget). Once the lead is pre-qualified they book an appointment on behalf of the AE and send an agenda email to the client. They also call the lead before the scheduled meeting (typically 2-24 hours before hand) to remind them. The magic in this process is it creates an authority/anticipation mental trigger and psychologically positions the AE as an expert. Finally, by sending a well-worded agenda email and conducting reminder calls you will increase meeting attendance rates by 50-100%.
To ensure high booking rates, it's essential to have a strong offer that goes beyond a simple product demo or pitch. The meeting with the AE should be an opportunity to learn more about the burning issues that are keeping the lead up at night. The AE needs to be a trained expert that can provide an education-based meeting on industry issues, landmines, relevant statistics, best practices, etc. Once a considerable amount of education has taken place to position the AE as a trusted advisor, then and only then, is it acceptable to tie in relevant features and benefits of the product offering that will satisfy the customer’s needs. This process is often referred to as challenger or consultative selling. Having a strong education-based offer will enable to the BDR / LRR to book more meetings with higher attendance rates and ultimately higher win rates. This approach also broadens the potential pool of customers from a very small segment of 5% or less that may be looking for your solution today to 30-50% that could be in the market for your solution if the right awareness and education took place.
Once the lead becomes a customer the sale does not stop there.
The CSM team should take the time to ensure customer success, but also look for ways to add more value. This can come in the form of cross selling and up selling. After customers have just bought your product or service you are typically in the honeymoon period and this is the perfect time to ask for testimonials and referrals to other clients. Customer success plays a critical role in notifying the BDR team of new business opportunities to follow up with.
As you can see BDRs and LRRs act as the bridge between marketing and sales and CSMs are the bridge between sales and customer service. However, it is the handoff process is one that often gets mixed up. One of the best ways to overcome this and prevent chaos in your sales org and ensure accurate reporting in your CRM system is to have a well-worded sales glossary. Just imagine that each department speaks a different language. The sales glossary translates what is going on with each lead, account and opportunity and prevents confusion. This is essential to a successful and efficient specialized sales org.
Does your organization already have an Inside Sales Team? Are they performing as they should be? Are you just thinking about restructuring your team? We would love to know your thoughts, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.