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Should You Fire Half of Your Sales Team?

Bartosz Majewski in

Blog/Should You Fire Half of Your Sales Team?

Historically speaking, the salesperson’s job has been highly resistant to shakeups. When markets are doing good and customers are spending like there’s no tomorrow, sales reps make money because they close a lot of deals. We start hearing voices though, saying that the status quo is approaching its end. Will new tools, artificial intelligence, and process automation make half of us lose our jobs?

As it stems from a Hubspot analysis, wrapped in a 2015 sales teams productivity report, salespeople spend only ⅓ of their time actually making sales. Specialists were already pointing back then to a trend showing diminishing customer need to meet a sales rep directly – another one of the factors impacting salespeople’s current situation.

According to Hubspot, the activities that affect the productivity of salespeople include formalities, research, content design and follow ups, administrative tasks such as filling out the CRM system, etc. Since an increasing number of interactions with the client takes part online, their measurability is greater, which in turn eliminates waste. And as more and more sales teams turn to inside sales, the costs and time related to multiple business trips are trimmed down.

Does the fact that 33% of a sales rep’s time is being devoted to things that can be largely automated, and the customers’ decreasing need to have face to face meetings mean that you no longer need half of your sales team?

These things will be automated

As of now, the sales process is being steadily automated – that’s a fact you can hardly argue against. Just look at the e-commerce industry, where the role of the salesperson has been almost entirely eliminated or converted to customer support. There are still several areas where sales reps can feel safe but one thing’s for sure – most of them, within the upcoming decade, will face the fact that their work, at least to some degree, can be done way faster and more efficiently by an automaton.

As it is the case in discussions on automation in other lines of work, the key question is: Will salespeople be fully pushed out by automation, or whether they’ll be technologically enhanced, so that they’re able to do more work in shorter time? The ramifications of both these scenarios will greatly affect the salespeople job market. We’ve touched upon the topic on multiple occasions before on our blog.

icon computer equal clients

One of the first tasks that will be automated is lead qualification – a more or less needy individual, coming from a particular industry, region, or company. All these factors that influence qualification can be analyzed by a machine employing algorithms.

Another thing that makes salespeople lose sleep is filling out the CRM system and sending reminders – email and telephone follow ups. Both processes can also be optimized using a relevant tool. Arranging meetings? CRM, email, and telephone-integrated apps are becoming increasingly popular.

Divide the sales process

It used to be the case that the salesperson was responsible for the entire sales process, start to finish. Apart from its advantages, the model also has a flaw: it leaves no room for specialization and causes immense waste of a rare and valuable resource, which is the sales reps’ TIME.

Why would the person, who’s great at contacting customers waste their time on research, or sending email meeting reminders? Why does a sales rep, that you’re paying serious money to, have to draw up customer contracts, which can be handled by their assistant? These are the things that can be taken care of by someone else, who’s feeling more comfortable with the role and will be more engaged.

As far as the trend for diversification of the sales teams’ competencies is gaining momentum in the West, it’s still a rarity in Poland. Few companies invest in competencies such as assistants, SDR, pre-sales, or research. Most frequently, the expansion of sales departments involves the creation of new sales rep or team leader jobs.

Here are three arguments that should convince you that a specialized sales team is actually the way to go:

  • First: a salesperson is able to recognize customer needs, adjust the product or service, and conduct communication in a way, which helps him close deals for highest possible sums as often as possible. That’s what he does best, so why would he waste time doing other less relevant stuff?
  • Second: the person occupying the pre-sales or the researcher position has a narrow scope of duties, which helps them focus on performing at the highest level. There’s a significant chance that nothing will escape their attention. Again, why would a salesperson spend 6 hours a day searching for contact information, if he’s not the best at it? There may be another person, who’s better at it and feels good about working behind the scenes, thus supporting the sales rep.
  • Third: a segmented sales process is cheaper, faster, and more EFFECTIVE when there’s one person responsible for arranging meetings and fighting through the reception desks at prospect companies, and another taking care solely of closing the deal. Smaller, specialized teams work more efficiently.

You may now be thinking – ok, so if sales reps are expensive, then I can hire cheaper researchers, fire half of my sales team and remain at the same level of results while saving money…

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Are you anxious to fire half of your sales reps already?

STOP! Instead, provide them with automation tools!

Just as a reminder, according to Hubspot, non-sales activities consume up to 33% of salespeople’s time. By implementing applicable processes you’ll be able to save even several hours of their precious time a day. They can use this time to MAKE SALES. They’ll have way more time at their disposal and be more efficient. What’s in it for you? It’s simple – you’ll be able to boost your sales.

Make your salespeople not waste their talent and focus on things they were meant to do. Researching prospects and brief? This can be handled either by an app or an automaton, or some other person, more agile at obtaining information than a sales vet. Initial contact and lead acquisition? Why don’t you use a scalable cold email campaign?

Indeed, people feel less and less inclined to directly meet sales reps. The success of the e-commerce industry shows that people prefer to handle most of their tasks while at home or at the office. Still, the role of human relations in business is one of the crucial factors affecting sales. A B2B salesperson has been and will be irreplaceable. That is, if he can add value.

Optimize, design, automate

I’ve been working with many businesses and I can see what bothers sales directors who wish to expand their departments. The recruitment process involving a salesperson is a rough ride. I know how difficult it is to find good salespeople, so you have to make it your priority to keep the ones you already have and who perform well. All the processes you’re able to optimize and automate will allow you to win valuable time – you can then invest it in raising the qualifications of your employees. Who knows, maybe the day will come, when we’re going to work 8 hours and head home…

In real life, as a manager, you don’t have too much space to operate in. If you won’t make the move, sooner or later your competitors will. In such a scenario, you’ll be managing an extensive, costly, inefficient and non-specialized structure of salespeople. What you’ll be facing is a cheaper, more effective and specialized sales structure.

What having such a structure means in practice is that one can sell more with the same sales force, or sell less with significantly less manpower.

As a result, one can enjoy bigger margins, or transfer the savings to the customers by offering lower prices, which in turn will increase one’s market share and put pressure on the competition. Pressure that’s bound to snowball to a point, where you’ll have that structure. The bigger the sales network costs, the bigger the pressure. Wouldn’t it be better to initiate the change on your own?

Remember – all the activities discussed here may lead to increasing your sales. Isn’t that what we’re all about?

icon computer plus clients equal cash

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Bartosz Majewski

Co-founder at RightHello. 10 years experience in sales. Executed business expansion into 38 markets in 6 continents. A regular speaker at business conferences. An active snowboarder outside of work. Avid book reader and blogger.