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Sales Support: What It Is and Why It’s Essential

Sales support reps having a conversation at a table.
Sales support handles the essential functions that allow sales reps to focus on what they do best — sell. [Adobe]

Boost your team's productivity with the right combination of sales support professionals and technology.

According to the State of Sales report, reps spend only 28% of their week selling. The rest? Manual work, planning, maintaining deal records. Ideally, reps would spend more time with prospects and customers, but unless they have sales support to handle the 72% of non-direct-selling work, that face time won’t happen.

Learn how sales support can help free your sellers up to focus on relationships, turning your sales team into a closing powerhouse.

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What you’ll learn:

What is sales support?

Sales support is a function or role that handles administrative tasks like maintaining customer records, managing sales leads, and answering customer queries. On some sales teams, this includes business development representatives (BDRs) and sales development representatives (SDRs). Above all, individuals in this role focus on streamlining the sales process for reps and enhancing customer relationships.

5 functions of sales support

Simply put, the goal of support professionals is to make the sales team better at their jobs. People in support work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide the information and resources that enable sales representatives to focus on what they do best — selling. Here are some specific ways it can positively impact sales efforts:

1. Lead management: This involves tracking potential customers through the sales pipeline, and promptly following up on leads (with the help of automated technology). As an example, if a potential client shows interest in a product demo, sales support will book the demo and coordinate for a sales rep to take over the interaction.

2. Data management and analysis: Sales support teams maintain and organize customer data within CRMs. As an illustration, they might update customer contact information, record sales interactions, and track customer preferences. CRMs with integrated data analysis functions can help identify sales trends and customer behavior patterns that are essential for strategic sales planning.

3. Customer service and communication: This team acts as a crucial link between the sales team and customers. Accordingly, they handle customer inquiries, provide product information, and resolve issues — contributing to positive customer experiences.

4. Administrative support: This involves organizing and scheduling meetings, preparing presentations, and managing documents. Before a big sales pitch, the sales support team might handle preparing the presentation and handouts, allowing the salesperson to concentrate fully on client interaction.

5. Sales planning and strategy assistance: In addition, they might assist in market research, competitor analysis, and identifying potential sales opportunities. These insights can help shape sales approaches and tactics, using deal data and market analysis to make them more effective and targeted.

While the specifics of those in sales support roles may vary according to the needs of individual teams and sales reps, when support does its job well, sales teams are freed up to connect with prospects, earn trust, and close more deals.

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Why is sales support important?

What’s better than a customer? A repeat customer. And what’s at the heart of building customer loyalty? Customer experience. According to PwC research, the top reasons consumers leave a brand are experience-related: Over one-third (37%) of people surveyed said they’ve left brands due to bad experiences with the product or service itself. As a matter of fact, that number is even higher among younger generations.

One of the most crucial functions of sales support is enhancing customer experiences. Providing timely and accurate information ensures that customer interactions are positive. This is especially important in today’s market, where it’s easier than ever to brand hop and comparison shop. A great customer experience can influence brand loyalty and lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship.

Sales support teams also play a vital role in streamlining operations. By handling administrative tasks, data management, and initial customer inquiries, they free up sales professionals to focus on client interaction, closing deals, and generating revenue.

Another key aspect is data analysis. Sales support teams gather and analyze customer data, market trends, and sales performance metrics. This analysis provides important insights that guide strategic planning, helping businesses to identify opportunities, forecast trends, and make informed decisions about their sales strategies.

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Benefits and risks of sales support

It’s vital to put a strong system in place to help your team succeed. Here are some of the consequences of good and poor sales support:

Benefits:

  • Focus: By handling administrative and operational tasks, sales support allows client-facing team members to dedicate more time to selling and developing client relationships. This efficiency leads to higher productivity and more closed deals.
  • Streamlined sales funnel: Through lead qualification and nurturing with tools like CRM systems and chatbots, sales support helps zeros in on the most promising leads and moves them through the pipeline and into sales rep’s hands.
  • Strengthened customer relationships: Consistent communication — email marketing, prompt query resolution, and other nurturing efforts — keep your company top-of-mind for customers, fostering trust, loyalty, and referrals.

Risks:

  • Disrupted sales focus: Without a support team to assist with routine tasks, sales reps and account executives can get bogged down and have less time for important sales activities.
  • Wasted time: When leads aren’t properly qualified, sales teams waste time on low-potential prospects instead of focusing on leads with a higher likelihood of converting.
  • Neglected customer relationships: Sporadic communication and slow response times can make clients feel undervalued, risking the loss of future sales opportunities and damaging your company’s reputation.

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3 tools to support your team

In today’s fast-paced sales environment, the right tools can help support your sales team and benefit your entire organization. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • CRM tools offer a “single source of truth” for all customer data. Having a central hub makes access to data and sharing information across your sales team (and beyond, to marketing and support) a breeze, ensuring everyone is on the same page and no detail is missed.
  • Sales automation tools can take routine manual work like data entry, appointment scheduling, and following up on leads off your team’s plate. This frees sales support staff and reps up to focus on more strategic tasks.
  • Tools like Slack can help your sales team get in touch faster and collaborate on the spot. Slack is an easy way to share information and ideas between teams no matter where they are.

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Boost your sales with strong sales support

Like an actor, artist, or athlete, even the best sales reps won’t reach their best by going it alone. Sales support performs vital functions — from nurturing leads to helping create dynamic presentations — that let sales pros focus on selling. Back your sales reps up with a great support team, give that team the technology they need to track and analyze sales activity, and watch your bottom line grow.

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Erin Hueffner, Writer, Salesblazer
Erin Hueffner Writer, Salesblazer

Erin Hueffner is a writer from Madison, Wisconsin. Her career spans two decades in tech, journalism, and content marketing. At Salesforce, Erin’s work focuses on sales fundamentals and best practice content for Salesblazers. Erin has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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