Last year has been quite transformational for RightHello. Change is good, and for the Sales Team, one of the most impactful changes came in October. You may have seen the results on our Facebook page – over $100.000 in newly signed deals and a new team record in the number of qualified sales leads.
Achieving monthly goals is always a result of the whole team’s effort. But if a team is not structured properly for the industry that it’s in, most effort might go to waste, no matter how heroic.
That’s exactly what we wanted to avoid when hiring a full-time Presales Specialist in September. October the first full month that our Sales Team operated in a more specialized model.
It was enough to notice significant improvements in our Sales Team’s results.
How Has Our Sales Process Changed?
Presales Specialist is a position that’s part of a relatively new, but rapidly growing field in sales – Sales Operations.
The general mission of Sales Ops Specialists is:
to organize data and generate deep customer insight in order to enhance sales force productivity and effectiveness
September was the month that we succeeded at finding the right person for a Presales position. Hiring was challenging, because we’d wanted to find a person with both sales skills and an analytical/problem solving mindset.
In the end it took us 2 months to find the right person, and it was worth our patience to see how a presales specialist changed our work.
The first part of the sales process hasn’t changed. Marketing generates leads for sales. The core source of leads is organizing cold email campaigns, using the same process that is the core of our lead generation service (see our case studies here). The other source is managing inbound website traffic.
We wanted to change the part of the process after leads were generated.
Before, leads went straight to a salesperson, who would arrange call, work out agreements and sign deals.
Now, leads go to presales specialist, who arranges a call. After that is successful, salespeople arrange next calls, work out agreements and sign deals.
I was eager for this to happen, excited at the new opportunities that the experiment could open up for the team.
A specialist takes a lot of weight off the team. Implementing the position also required defining new metrics for presales success. Which is an additional benefit that increased the number of valuable data that Sales generate, and allowed us to communicate better with Marketing.
Did we manage to accomplish our goals?
We had specific expectations regarding our new hire. We took it as an experiment that we wanted to be able to evaluate fast. To me it was also very important to avoid the sunk-cost bias, where we would keep investing in presales even if it didn’t help.
Here’s what we managed to achieve, and what we planned for:
- We planned for improvements in the team’s performance, and we’ve seen them – in October we processed 125 more leads than in September
- We wanted to implement qualitative analysis on top of analyzing just numbers, and we did – previous to the changes, our team took more time to realize which of our campaigns were really working. We had limited knowledge of lead conversion rates from different sources, and had to rely on edge-case scenarios. Currently, all of that information is managed by presales, and we have better knowledge of what works and what converts.
- Complete feedback loop with marketing team for better alignment – with more information, we can give better feedback to the marketing team, to eventually get better quality of leads for processing.
- Faster and more efficient lead distribution in the team, for more fairness in the system – thanks to implementing presales, every salesperson now has a queue of leads right for their capabilities.
We’ve seen a lot of positive signs, but also hard results backed by numbers. These are some of the KPIs in our sales process, that will be useful to show the real impact of implementing presales:
However, from September to October (the first full month with presales specialist), processed leads increased by 50%, number of calls by 10% (!!!), and we’ve closed 78% more new deals. From August to September, we’ve processed 18% more leads, taken 40% more calls and closed 32% more new deals.
At the end of the month, we were overjoyed at the results of implementing presales as we saw the value of newly signed deals double in October – $143K – in comparison to September – $84K.
It shows that optimization in Sales doesn’t just lead to more activities, which sales managers might be led to believe. Our team’s number of overall monthly sales activities has grown substantially (3507 in October compared to 3091 in September). As a result of better team focus, but also because presales activities take less time compared to 15-40 minute sales demos.
Real optimization happens when you let go of unqualified leads as soon as possible so that your salespeople could focus on the right ones. It’s the goal of implementing presales.
Thanks to greater specialization, salespeople can perform a similar number of activities and get as much as 80% of an increase in the value of newly signed deals. Purely because the whole team can devote more focus to the most valuable customers.
Our decision to hire a full-time Presales Specialist has shown us various effects:
- Sales team becomes more focused and achieves better results
- A Presales Specialist releases the rest of the Sales Team from a demotivating overload of tasks
- Greater specialization in Sales can have a positive effect on revenue ($150K new deals in October compared to $80K in previous month)
- Implementing Presales increases the number of leads the team can process (even 50% month-to-month growth)
- Processing more leads by a specialized team resulted in 80% month-to-month increase of new deals signed
While we may not have achieved all the goals that we aimed for with this experiment, it’s still a success. Many ideas in sales may have been shortlived, but the idea of specializing and hiring a full-time Presales Specialist is a great one.