Your sales team is the engine that drives your business to sell more, grow, and succeed. It’s a critical piece of any business.
Logically, you should give salespeople the tools and assistance they need to do their job well. But sales support is often overlooked to the detriment of the business. Retooling your sales support engine leads to a 6 to 13 percent jump in revenue and a 10 to 20 percent boost in the speed of sales cycles.
But what is sales support exactly? And why is having strong sales support important?
What is sales support?
Often working in the background or going unnoticed, the wide variety of functions performed by sales support is undervalued.
Sales support work includes:
- Sales communications: the sales outreach that preps the market for your product
- Customer service and training materials: these provide help and reassurance to your prospects and leads which gives buyers the confidence to proceed
- Generating leads: researching, discovering, and filtering the people that interact with your brand and content
Sales support will look different depending on your industry and your organization. It could be done by internal staff or outsourced. It could use a new tech-forward platform or legacy methods.
But no matter what industry you are in, having the right amount of sales support will positively affect your business.
Why is sales support important?
Your sales support is what allows sales reps to make the most of their time. It removes busywork and facilitates winning content. This lets them focus on selling instead of on creating sales materials.
It might not sound like the most important job, but research suggests that “top performers have a 30 percent higher level of sales support than the rest of the companies.”
As sales, marketing, and customer tech advance, sales support gets left behind. But this challenge gives businesses a new way to optimize and improve their numbers.
How can you take on weaknesses in your sales support? Start by identifying what’s holding your team back.
7 signs of weak sales support
If you pay close attention to your workplace and business performance, you can spot the signs of weak sales support early on.
1. Poor communication
Good sales support starts with communication. A good communicator is going to service sales needs better and faster. While a poor communicator wastes time getting their message across. The cost of poor communication is high and some have estimated it could be more than $26,000 in large companies.
How does this look in sales support? If there are communication breakdowns, it might be evident on the sales floor, as sellers become frustrated at the lost time in getting desired sales content.
A solution might be calling a meeting to address concerns, speaking to staff individually, or getting a third party in to facilitate. The best way out of communication problems is through better, more frequent communication.
2. Lack of trust
Trust is essential to good communication. Your salespeople need trust to build confidence. And sales reps know that confidence is mandatory for closing deals.
A lack of trust is usually kick-started by a lack of:
Look at your sales support and sales reps. Do they communicate transparently and in good faith? Do they empathize with each other’s challenges? Are they being held accountable?
The right system, built on these three principles can boost trust levels. Examine your sales support systems and brainstorm ways they could be improved to inspire confidence.
A lack of communication or trust often leads to conflict.
Ronald Reagan said, “Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
Conflict is going to happen, and it’s not always a bad thing, as long as it is faced with open ears. Don’t presume or be heavy-handed. Remember to listen first, to fully understand the problem.
Then, attack the problem, not the person. Avoiding the blame game will get the best results. Hopefully, you can find a resolution by stating your case openly and negotiating fairly.
But if there is no progress after a conflict, some will admit defeat and withdraw.
Your sales team has seen that their sales support is a mess, but nothing is changing. They switch gears into retreat and surrender.
The signs your team might be in withdrawal are:
- a lack of motivation
- declined sales activity
- low morale
- staff leaving the company
You probably already know that replacing a staff member is costly. Often costing up to 6-9 months’ salary or tens of thousands of dollars for an average full-time hire.
Some attrition of your workforce is normal so don’t panic if withdrawal starts to happen. Instead look for ways to empower your sales force. A good place to start might be in your tech stack: are your current software solutions fit-for-purpose and easy to use?
5. Status quo thinking
If your business falls into the trap of accepting the status quo, it will give your competitors a chance to catch up.
Today’s leading companies didn’t get where they are by patting themselves on the back year after year. It’s impossible to be the best if the full spectrum of ideas, backgrounds, and expertise are not welcome.
But diversity in business isn’t a new idea. It’s a proven way to increase profitability.
To find the best, most profitable solutions in sales support you need a constructive and robust discussion. It helps if this debate takes place centrally where all levels of the business can access key data and knowledge. Be transparent about your commitment to change.
Sales support is there to help your reps make sales. So if the support doesn’t work, your reps will idle.
Managers naturally panic when they see idle employees. Since they typically enjoy their work, find fulfillment, and work hard it can be alarming to see others not doing the same.
As a leader, it could pay off to look a little deeper. Look closely at some of the key roles of sales support and ask:
- Are you generating leads? If leads aren’t being comprehensively researched, filtered, and managed by support, you’re going to end up with fewer sales.
- How are your sales communications? If the right messages aren’t going to your active market, potential clients will slip away.
- What’s the quality of customer service? If customer experiences head south, potential deals are lost, and negative feedback could quickly snowball.
7. Reduced revenue
Losing income is the final clarion call that something is wrong, and that problem could well be sales support. Reduced revenue is listed last since it’s difficult to fix at this stage and it’s hard to pinpoint which part of the business is in trouble.
What do you do? You might try to cut costs, perhaps even in sales support areas, but this could create a downward spiral. You could also attempt to increase productivity, but this is hard to do at the best of times, let alone when your business is in trouble.
A better solution is to scale your sales support using a sales enablement platform. This creates better alignment between your sales and marketing teams and enables your team to do more with fewer resources. This is because instead of mass-producing content you are now creating focused, and targeted sales materials.
How to fix weak sales support
Your sales support is essential for making sales reps—and customers—feel comfortable. Strong sales support, whether that be in-depth data insights or just general admin will free up sales to focus solely on the customer.
So, support your sales team. Empower them with the right tools and knowledge to succeed and shore up future revenue.
How can you do this?
Get marketing, sales, and sales support in a room together and discuss what needs to be done. Often, it’s merely a misalignment of strategy and execution that’s the cause of lagging revenue. Talk about what today’s changing marketplace really wants: omnichannel marketing, customer experience, message personalization, and real solutions.
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