Salesforce: Are your sales team Farmers or Hunters?

Managing ‘house’ accounts or bringing in brand new business – Two very different sales playbooks


Helping our clients to design a Salesforce CRM involves getting into the detail of how the sales teams are organised. The consultant from Tenacre needs to understand how the teams are structured and what the sales reps targets are. This information is a vital input to how we design your CRM. When it comes to optimising Salesforce and your sales plans for growth, one of the fundamental elements should be developing different plans for different target groups.

There are two basic target groups that you can develop plans for;

  1. Existing clients – Keep them as clients, increase the value of your business
  2. New Clients – Attract new customers

Set some goals and then measure progress

Irrespective of how your sales team is structured, you need to have targets in place to ensure that there is proactive work being done to generate sales.  Often we see with medium or smaller sales teams that each rep has dual responsibility for managing house accounts and bringing in new business. Human nature being what it is, that rep is going to spend the majority of her time on the ‘house’ accounts, and less time chasing new business.

Effective sales management will measure the building bricks of the sales process. This means that you are looking into the number of meetings that each rep has completed, and even what type of meeting this was (introduction meeting, demonstration, requirements gathering etc.). Within Salesforce, reports and dashboards can be created that will show the rep and the sales manager what the targets are and how they’re performing in reaching that target.

Farmers: Define your Account Management plan

Managing multiple accounts can take time, and time management is a skill that all good sales reps possess. The first step in effective account management is grading your accounts. This means that all the companies are classified based on their importance to the business. Grade ‘A’ clients are the most important, this could be based on;

  • The historical AED value of their business with you
  • The potential AED value of the business that they could do with you
  • A combination of both

Your account managers will be more effective if they are spending their time with the Grade A clients. Create specific actions that are linked to each graded account (this can be planned and measured in Salesforce), so that

  • Have a 360 degree understanding Your Account Manager reviews any open support cases or billing issues and makes sure the client is being looked after
  • Up-selling opportunities The client is aware of the services that you can offer, not just what they’ve already bought from you
  • Cross-selling opportunities You start selling into different departments of the same firm or a different office
  • Though leadership The Account Manager brings in more senior members of your company for client workshops, or other C-Level events so that you’re seen as a trusted partner rather than just a vendor
  • Long-term planning There’s a focus on long-term value to the A Grade clients, and that the key decision makers are involved in

Hunters: New leads don’t grow on trees – Proactive prospecting

Prospecting is the unseen hard work that goes in advance of building the pipeline. It’s unglamorous, often thankless and requires a thick skin to deal with rejection.  However, if your reps aren’t systematically prospecting for new business, then it’s practically impossible to build the pipeline, and the business becomes overly reliant on house accounts.

Prospecting has changed over the years, it’s no longer based on hammering the phones (‘dialling for dollars‘). The effective prospecting techniques that we’ve seen used with our clients in Dubai are;

1. Referrals: Dubai is a city where we’re all connected, we’re an expat community that relies on the contacts and experience of our friends and work colleagues. Asking your existing clients and contacts for referrals is the most effective way of building the top end of your sales funnel.

2. Social Selling: This is really easy to get wrong. Connecting to someone on LinkedIn, and then immediately messaging them with an Inmail sales pitch is not social selling, it’s being a pest. Social selling requires time and effort and involves publishing your expertise through blogs or updates. It’s a way of building your personal profile and expanding the number of people that are aware of who you are and what you do. There’s a good post here from LinkedIn on social selling and even more information here from Hootsuite.

3. Cold Calling: It still works, but it still needs time on the phone trying to get past gatekeepers. Working to a targeted list and making calls to set appointments is often the first step in starting a relationship with that prospect. The first call may not turn into a meeting appointment, but you should be able to learn something more about that company and then update the lead record in Salesforce for future reference and next steps. Pro Tip – Social Selling in advance of cold calling warms up your prospects

4. Networking: Like Social Selling, networking is easy to get wrong. Effective networking takes energy and preparation. Networking isn’t turning up to an event and spending time with someone that you enjoy chatting to. For networking to bo be an effective prospecting exercise, you’ll need to be coming away with some business cards and a good first impression.

5. Lead Nurturing: Most prospects that you identify won’t convert in the short term, they need a lot more work. This is where lead nurturing comes into play. I like to describe lead nurturing as the long-term process of developing prospects through education, explanation, and communication right up to the point where they’re ready to talk to a salesperson. Lead nurturing is the point where the marketing team and the sales team become interdependent in a whole new way. Salesforce has a platform called ‘pardot‘ that is a specialist marketing automation system, and an add-on called ‘Engage‘ that lets the sales team run their own lead nurturing programme.

Introduce marketing to sales, their new best buddies

Irrespective of whether your reps are managing ‘house’ accounts or out hunting for new business, these days the marketing team needs to be tightly integrated to the overall sales processes. We know that most B2B buyers (and B2C for that matter..) have fully researched their purchasing options prior to calling in the vendors. You better hope that when you’re asked to provide a proposal for the work that you’re not there just to make up the numbers.

The marketing team can get deeply involved with the sales team through the development of lead nurturing programmes. We mentioned this above in relation to prospecting for new business. Marketing automation applications such as Pardot helps the sales team, as it ensures that all leads are given the time to mature into fully qualified sales opportunities. This becomes even more valuable to the marketing effort when the cost of each lead is factored in (SEO, Adwords, Facebook advertising).

The marketing team, by taking a longer-term view on the leads that are generated, can significantly increase the conversion rate and return on investment on their lead generation campaigns. These lead nurturing techniques are equally valuable to the sales rep that’s chasing new business, or the account manager that’s working hard to increase your ‘share of wallet’ with existing clients.