The Danger of a Reactive Salesforce

“Locust swarms move so fast because each locust is trying to eat the one in front and avoid being eaten by the one behind”
QI, Twitter feed.

There are two types of salespeople in life: those who receive leads, and those who have to go and get their own.

We find that sales teams tend to have a strong bias either way. The focus of this week’s blog is an emerging danger that we are seeing within our clients – the team that is reliant on inbound leads.

As you know, having a strong, inbound lead machine is a great thing. It means your salesforce doesn’t have to cold call, because they have what seems to be a never ending supply of leads. However, having a sales force reliant on inbound leads can carry significant risks:

1) It can diminish the value of leads: We’ve seen it – salespeople who call a lead once, and if they don’t get to speak to a customer, they simply move on to the next lead. Yet some of the latest research suggests that it takes 8 calls to get hold of a customer on the phone. So there’s a really strong chance that you are only being 10-15% as successful as you might be because your team is giving up too early and never actually speaks to many prospects!

2) If the leads dry up, you’re sunk: If/when your flow of leads becomes a trickle, then your team might not have the skills to generate their own opportunities. We’ve seen this happen for all sorts of reasons (Google algorithm change, sudden competitor or market change) and you suddenly have a sales team who don’t know what to do to generate their own leads.

3) You don’t target amazing customers: If you only ever react, then you don’t work with the customers you really want to work with. Say you want to work with Sony. In a reactive environment, if Sony never shows an interest, then you don’t speak. In a proactive environment, you can target exactly who you want. You can put together a compelling strategy for targeting them. And the sense of winning is phenomenal.

4) It’s harder to capture high performance: It’s easier to dip into low performance if you rely on the outside world to provide you with opportunities. Leads can slow down, and ‘downtime’ creeps in – suddenly you have a ‘busy’ salesforce who aren’t selling.

Here’s what we recommend if you have a reactive salesforce that needs to get on the front foot and become more proactive:

1. Get some cold calling training: Proactive cold calling is a different ballgame than reactive selling. Cold calling is beautiful when done the right way, with courageous, pinpoint accuracy underpinned by research and great messaging. Cold calling stimulates the nerve-centre of a sales force, asking them to be creative, courageous and strategic. A cold call win injects your whole team, and company, with a ‘can-do’ attitude and a different outlook and atmosphere.

2. Encourage a ‘talk to strangers’ culture: Your people need to spend at least a small part of every day and week talking to strangers. Find out their comfort levels with doing so, and address the attitude by confronting it head on.

3. Create an ‘honour thy lead’ culture: Educate the salesforce on the cost of each lead, and the current climate where it takes many more calls to get through.  Create a team code for 6 follow-ups in the first 3 days.  Make chasing leads aggressively the new ‘normal’ and watch your sales results tumble in!

4. Create an outbound ‘hotzone’ every day: Ringfence a small part of every day for outbound, proactive, cold sales calls. Start developing the skills – then, when “lead winter” comes, you’ve got insurance.

5. Service everything with time to spare: I know what you’re thinking, “that just isn’t possible at our company” or “it’s different here” or “there’s not enough time” etc. The fundamental truth is that if your team are unable to respond to every inbound lead with time to spare, or worse, you have so many inbound leads (you lucky devils) that some are being missed or response time is being damaged along with your reputation, then something needs to give. You either need more sales people, fast, or a much more effective system of qualifying the good leads from the bad, giving your sales people time every day to build their outbound selling muscle and proactively find the clients you want.

As the opening quote of this blog goes, you can either be a locust that chases and eats, or one that gets eaten if you can’t move quickly enough.  Start developing your proactive, outbound calling skills now with our brilliant Natural LIVE telesales training.  You can see the results happen before your eyes because your group makes real calls while we train them. Give us a call on 020 7043 1582 if you’d like to find out more or get in touch by clicking the link below.


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