What is sales support? This little-known fact could supercharge your sales.Posted on February 20th, 2019 by Jay Thomas
Hitting your financial goals in sales means hitting quotas. And you can’t hit quotas without a great sales team. How do you create such a winning team?
You might think about hiring new sellers, motivating your current staff, or bringing in expert consultants. But these can be expensive, unproven, and disruptive.
The true leaders of industry are discovering that sales support is where critical gains are made. Research shows that top-performing companies have a 30 percent higher level of sales support than other companies. This little-known fact is what separates great companies from the good.
And this little-known fact makes sense: sales support exists only to help sales reps make deals. That’s all they do, and they’re pretty cost effective. They perform their role by making connections: preparing sellers, nurturing leads, and providing training. Sales support perform a variety of tasks that add up to faster sales cycles, lower costs, and increased revenue.
Recognize the value of support in sales
Sales reps want stimulation. It’s the thrill of chasing down big deals that drives them.
However, the average sales force spends only 37 percent of its time on money-making activities. Sellers will spend up to 10 percent of their workday on mundane tasks, such as sifting through spreadsheets.
Sales support is the solution to this busy work that makes sellers less effective and less motivated.
Think of sales support as your everyman, jack of all trades, and product know-it-all. They should be ready to support your salespeople in every way. Daily responsibilities for sales support can include:
- Answering customer inquiries. They free up sales reps from busywork and straightforward requests.
- Generating leads. They use digital channels and research to gather, sort, and organize leads for sales reps.
- Preparing communications. They work on content, advertising, campaigns, promotions, and public relations. Their work grows into prospects, buyers, and return customers.
- Providing training. They look after the prospect with extra product information. This could be schematics, instructions, or anything that provides pre-purchase confidence — something your competitors might not offer.
Get a proven return on investment (ROI)
With the right amount of support, productivity multiplies across your sales floor. But how much money do you need to spend? Too much support, and you’re wasting money. Too little, and your sales performance drops. What’s the right amount and how do you prove ROI to leadership?
The optimal number might surprise you. Top-performing companies devote 50 to 60 percent of sales employees to support functions. This is because a high level of sales support has two clear benefits:
- Increased productivity. Support liberates your reps from admin and busywork.
- Cost efficiencies. Support generally costs less than more sales reps.
The companies with the best sales support are not only growing revenue, but they’re also cutting costs. Through smarter delegation, budgeting, and structure in your sales organization, you can focus your team on hitting financial goals.
Sales support can take on many forms.
What should you look for in sales support? More staff? More technology?
Most organizations need to work smarter, not harder. Your primary need is to see sales as your first customer. Focus your technology on assisting your sales team first. For example, give reps the line of sight to the precise content that’s needed, in real time.
As well as content recommendations, today’s sales tech centralizes and spreads knowledge throughout your company while keeping costs down. In fact, much of the emerging digital tools allow a forward-thinking organization to automate, or cut entirely, some aspects of sales support.
Where once salespeople were armed with folders and brochures, they now have all-in-one digital platforms that use searchable content and customizable templates. High-performing sales teams are 2.8 times more likely than underperformers to be making the shift to digital enablement. They use tech not only to streamline their processes and free up time, but crucially, spend this time in customer-facing roles.
Why is sales support still a “little-known” strategy?
Unfortunately, sales support is often forgotten. It’s seen as a nice-to-have, perk, or luxury extra. In times of stress, it can be neglected, or cut entirely. It’s seen as low-hanging fruit to lop off when a business needs to slim down.
For example, a major company in a revenue slump wanted to reduce its sales force costs. The organization decided to cut back-office workers and protect frontline staff. After all, executives said, salespeople make sales. Although costs fell, frontline sales took over support tasks. Sellers are now busy answering customer inquiries, sifting leads, and generating content. Their additional duties cut into the time they needed to attend to customers. When managers saw sales numbers dropping, they panicked and added more sales reps. In the end, they had a more expensive workforce, which produced less than when they started.
Any company can fall into this kind of trap. Finding the right staff and tools isn’t easy. Sales support can seem like adding an extra layer of complexity to your business structure or an expensive challenge.
How do you ensure resources are spent most effectively through the development of a sales support regime? Here are a few tips:
- Be a lean and smart manager. Remove as much admin as possible. Through digital platforms, you can streamline many processes, such as training and development, collaboration, and communication.
- Create small teams. People work better in smaller groups. Many studies confirm that this effect exists in groups of all ages — from kindergartens to classrooms to the workplace. If your management or support staff is struggling to cover 30 people, they aren’t going to give your sales reps as much attention. Keep teams to a manageable size.
- Examine the data. With smaller teams and digital tools, much of the manager’s work in analyzing the workforce can be cut, streamlined, or automated. This leads to time and cost savings. Find out what works and what doesn’t, and then share it across your networks.
- Speed up the feedback loop from marketing to sales. With knowledge shared transparently across your enterprise, the improvement cycle can speed up. Through iteration, you can push your business to be agile in responding to marketplace changes.
Through these steps, you can increase the chances that your sales support will be a successful boost to your business.
Only through support comes growth
The first step towards achieving quotas is a great sales team. They need to see their goals, define what activities will get them there, then execute. If busywork or admin gets in the way, it can throw the team off, harming performance.
As successful enterprises have proven, sales support is a critical ingredient to a successful sales team.
Sales support cuts costs, boosts productivity, and drives the needle towards sustainable future growth. It helps your sales reps realize financial goals by giving them the freedom to forget busywork and admin tasks. It’s a cost-effective solution, and it’s getting cheaper by the day thanks to digital tools enabling automation and streamlining.
If you’re just discovering the value of sales support, Triptych can provide advice. We’re experts in propelling sales support to full-scale sales empowerment. We can scale up your processes by 10 times with a technology solution tailored to suit your industry. Talk to us today for a free demo.