Thinking strategically about how to grow your business is one of the first things to get thrown to the wayside when things get crazy. This is a problem because you need to continually grow your business beyond your existing clientele for it to be healthy. But sometimes we get too caught in the trenches of running our business, and we forget to work on our business.
This is especially difficult for people who are heavily and intimately involved in the day to day operation of their businesses. People who feel that they themselves are the best salesperson on their team, and the most motivated, driven team member at the company. And at some level this kind of makes sense—why shouldn’t you be the best person on your own team? It is your company after all.
The problem that arises, however, is that there is only a limited amount of time in each day. Day in and day out, if you are knocking down doors, leaving no stone unturned, and asking for business from anyone and everyone, you will have no time to focus on overall direction and strategy, let alone spend time with your family or take a vacation.
This is why it can be extremely valuable—indeed, absolutely necessary—to hire and train awesome people to assist you. And if your interest lies in growing your business, then the most critical area to hire good people for is lead generation. These people are called inside sales agents (ISAs). A good inside sales agent is a highly effective and accountable salesperson who prospects, follows up with leads, nurtures leads, and sets appointments.
EVALUATE POTENTIAL ISA HIRES BEFORE YOU HIRE THEM
You need to make sure you are extensively testing your inside sales agent (ISA) candidates in the skills that are required for the job. And for an ISA, the most important skill is being able to have effective sales conversations over the phone. At the end of the day, the ONLY thing that matters is if an ISA can make hundreds of calls per day, have good conversations, and persuade someone to take ACTION.
SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR ISA
It is essential that you clearly set out your 30/60/90 day expectations for your ISA in their role. That way, if they turn out not to be right for the job you will know MUCH sooner than waiting the 6 months it typically takes for them to ramp up. This means tracking things like the number of dials made, number of contacts made, contact to appointment ratio, number of appointments set vs. appointments converted—and having benchmarks for where the ISA should be with each of them at each time mark.
INSPIRE YOUR ISAS BY EMPHASIZING VALUE CREATION
In order to create a feeling of opportunity and self-responsibility on your team, you have to tie together them creating value for the company and creating value for themselves. One of the main things that can sap the motivation of your employees and cause their confidence and numbers to drop is the feeling that they are working for the benefit of someone else instead of for the benefit of themselves.
By building a culture that emphasizes that when your employees are creating value for the company, they are also creating value and opportunity in their own lives, your team will be much more inspired and productive.
MAKE SURE YOUR ISAS HAVE GOOD STORIES IN THEIR HEADS
Even if you hire great people, if they don’t have good stories in their head about what they are doing and how they are doing it, you’ll start to hear things like this:
- I don’t know who to call.
- I don’t know what to say.
- I’m better in person than on the phone.
- I’m too busy to lead generate.
- These leads suck!
These reactions can occur even with good, smart people. They are overwhelmingly the result of the ISA having a negative story or narrative that they tell themselves, a lack of understanding of the sales funnel, and an overall lack of confidence. These factors will lead to call reluctance, an inability to turn a “no” to a “yes”, and a general lack of comfort throughout the sales process.
If your salesperson has good stories in their head—if doing those activities that lead to production have a positive connotation—they will be unstoppable. If they have negative stories in their head about lead generation, setting appointments, and what those things mean about them as a salesperson, then no matter what you do or say, they won’t lead generate.
OFFER A COMPETITIVE COMPENSATION PACKAGE
As in most areas of life, the key to an effective compensation model is compromise. The exact makeup of how your particular pay structure will look depends on your specific business. But generally, the most popular and effective way to pay an inside sales agent tends to be a low salary with a 5%-15% commission at closing. This allows the ISA to have a base pay, but also be motivated to set quality appointments because they are rewarded when the property has reached closing.
This pay model typically works the best because it gives your inside sales agents a sense of security, but also rewards quality talent and provides a strong incentive (a significant bonus) to set quality and productive appointments. Remember, they are only getting their bonus if the appointment they set leads all the way to a closing.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
Alright, so let’s bring this all back home. Even if you are killing it, if you are the best person at your business or too critical to the daily grind, you are going to hit a ceiling. You can only do so much! And as the owner and leader of the company, you need to have time to look at and consider the big picture. That’s how you will grow your business.
So you need to be able to hire good people, and then train them to be ISAs who are masters of your sales process. They will bring in the leads, nurture the leads, and close the leads. You will be amazed (and maybe your pride will even be a little hurt) at how much awesome ISAs will be able to grow your company without you in the trenches each day.