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Whether you have a sales development team of five or 2,000, the challenge is always the same: how to boost the team’s productivity to create quality pipeline.

My team and I are tasked with enabling Salesforce’s entire sales development organization, which is more than 1,400 reps strong globally. Keep in mind, we hire an average of 500 reps each year. A typical new hire takes about three months to ramp up to perform at 100%. These reps move on to their next role in the sales org within 12 months. Due to the high volume, velocity, and churn, the cost of lost productivity in this field adds up pretty quickly. This could be due to a lack of job shadowing, streamlined processes, or the right tools and solutions. If each rep were to spend even one hour per day in repetitive non-value-adding manual tasks, it could result in over 100,000 hours lost per year.

In short, it’s imperative that we get all our reps to be their most productive selves, and get them ramped up as soon as we can, through streamlined business process and technology.

Give reps more time for conversations.

To achieve this, we invest a lot in productivity tools and in providing world-class coaching. We started with researching the manual, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks that our reps were performing. What was not adding value and what could we take off their plate?

We found that tasks like dialing manually from desk phones, logging activities, leaving repetitive and similar voicemails throughout the day were time-consuming and did not add value. After all, sales reps are best at having conversations. We wanted to provide them with more time to talk and connect to the customer, by eliminating manual or administrative work.

This initiative led us to develop a solution that fully automated dialing numbers, automatically logged activities, eliminated repetitive voicemails, and gave managers more time to monitor and coach. There was no lag time in live calls between the customer and sales reps. Robust call-back routing provided great customer experience. This ensured that the one-to-one connection between reps and prospects stayed intact and prospects didn’t get bounced to around to different reps when they called back.

Automate the tedious tasks.

The real test was rolling out the solution to a pilot set of reps. We’d identified the challenges and designed a solution that addressed them. We didn’t realize the extent to which a solution would be helpful to our sales development reps (SDRs) and business development reps (BDRs), and how much they would appreciate it. All of a sudden, the manual work of dialing and logging activities disappeared. Instead, reps could make a call, and the time, date, call duration, notes, and outcome of the call would be automatically logged in Salesforce. Now they could just focus on their conversations and making connections. The reps’ feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

The enhancements to the actual calling process also meant reps were leaving fewer voicemails. This translated to a huge 24% uptick in connection rates. Reps now had click-to-dial call lists and prerecorded voicemails ready to go. We also added a new capability of matching outbound calls to the specific area code of the customer. Many reps noted how they had tried to get in contact with a customer for weeks or months, but this one feature helped them set up a meeting right away. Our data showed that it took reps one call to connect instead of the usual five calls (or more in some cases) when they used this feature.

Monitor the data for insights.

Throughout the pilot and subsequent development, we continued to monitor our sales data and got clearer insights on what was working — or not working. In the data, we could find insights like the right time to call, the optimum cadence for follow-ups, and best approaches to lead the conversation. We also discovered (and later prescribed) the importance of speed to lead. Reaching out to a prospect within the first hour of their visiting the website makes you 10 times more likely to actually make the connection, versus trying to reach out later in the day. The fine-tuning of the sales process with these key insights has been key in generating high-quality pipeline. It has also boosted productivity by an average of two hours per rep per day.

For Salesforce and many other organizations, a dialing solution can’t be a one size fits all. It’s important to find the sweet spot — where there’s the right amount of automated dialing, as well as flexibility and space for the resourceful sales rep to do work that adds the most value. And, of course, it needs to be tightly integrated with the CRM tool. Providing a solution that helps reps optimize their day — but not completely automate it — is the key to inside sales reps’ empowerment and productivity.

For more insight on inside sales, be sure to visit our High Velocity Sales collection page.

Providing a solution that helps reps optimize their day — but not completely automate it — is the key to inside sales reps’ empowerment and productivity.”

Amrita Mohanty | Senior Manager, Sales Process and Technology, Salesforce

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