How to Perfect Inside Sales Handoffs
Inside sales handoffs between reps are critical in an Inside Sales team. When the baton is dropped at the handoff, deals slip before they close and customers have poor experiences, leading to churn and missed opportunity. But creating an airtight flow from marketing to business development to account executives to customer success results in happy, satisfied customers and fast sales cycles. Creating this quick-flowing sales process is the goal of every sales leader, but actually achieving it is a huge challenge to most teams, especially when they experience serious growth. It’s common to see otherwise successful sales organizations fall into the trap of turning their managers into drill sergeants. Here’s how to avoid letting it happen to you.
The easiest way to manage inside sales handoffs is to reward responsible ownership of prospects and customers. Starting from the top of the funnel with marketing, every person in the organization should be given some sort of metrics-based variable income that motivates them to perform an excellent handoff. This is fairly obvious for marketing and account executives. Incentivize marketing for generating not just web traffic and brand awareness, but highly-qualified inbound leads that are likely to become customers. Incentivize account executives not just for closing deals, but for effectively transitioning new customers to the account management/customer success team. But for SDRs, there are a couple of schools of thought.
At first consideration, it makes sense to compensate SDRs based on the number of completed meetings they set. This ensures that they aren’t just throwing things onto your AEs calendars and forgetting about them, but actually maintaining ownership of the prospect until they’ve made the meeting. This is the most straightforward and fuss-free method available. But there’s a growing number of sales operations that are partially basing their SDR compensation on the amount of meetings they set that eventually result in a win.
According to Bridge Group, 53% of inside sales organizations use closed won/revenue to compensate their SDRs. There’s an obvious critique of this method: once an SDR hands a prospect over to an AE, don’t they relinquish ownership, and therefore their ability to affect whether the deal closes? But when SDRs are compensated for deals that ultimately close, they’re motivated to “warm up” prospects before the sales call, which can greatly accelerate deals through the pipeline. With SDR income tied to deals all the way through the funnel, it’s no longer the sole responsibility of the sales manager to keep up with deal health. The health of the pipeline becomes a shared responsibility.
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Make a rulebook
When compensation is tied to effective execution of the sales process, it’s essential to make sure the prospect handoff process is well-understood by everyone in the organization. Neglect this step, and you’ll have a frustrated team. Make it black and white where each handoff takes place. At what point does an SDR reach out to a marketing-generated lead? Do SDRs conduct the first meeting with a prospect, or should prospects be handed over to AEs as soon as the first meeting has been scheduled? Lay out each step of the sales process in a clearly-articulated document. Put this document in the hands of every member of the team.
If you follow the two steps above, you’ll have a team of motivated individuals, all of whom understand their job. But you can take steps to put the team on track to grow and improve on their own. Maximize communication between teams at each stage of the sales process so that each role understands not just their own job, but those of other individuals on their team. Have your marketing and SDR teams sit in on sales calls so that they can learn the challenges faced by your prospective customers, and what they’re asking about your product once they get on the phone. Experiencing these conversations will help marketing tailor their message to your ideal customer profile. Sales development reps hearing the questions and objections that come up on calls will help them filter out dud leads during the prospecting stage so that your account executives don’t have to waste their time on calls and demos with them. This will also help your SDRs develop into full-fledged AEs themselves.
Create a culture of shared success
As any sales manager knows, not all sales meetings are created equal. Quality of meetings can slip when your SDRs don’t understand your ideal customer profile, or if they’re behind on quota and get a less-qualified lead on the phone who’s willing to take a demo. Create a culture of shared success so that every member in the sales team takes it upon themselves to ensure the strength of the pipeline. Everyone should be considering whether their work will result in revenue, or simply meeting their own performance metrics. Shared success means when a deal is closed, everyone who touched a deal, from marketing to SDR to Account Executive, gets recognition for contributing to a win. It means taking the entire team out to celebrate after a big quarter. And it means transparency. Everyone should know not only when things are going well, but when they aren’t. After all, we’re all in this together.