Sales Support: The Key To Taking Your Sales Team From Good to Great
Sales representatives wear multiple hats. On any given day, they may have to connect with customers digitally or in person, do cold outreach to new leads, complete training on new features for the products they sell, network on social media, and so.much.more
Sales managers’ list of duties are even more intense. From hiring new staff members and closing deals to setting objectives and tracking metrics, there’s rarely a spare moment.
For that reason, sales team support is critical. Unfortunately, though, sales teams and managers can be so focused on hitting quotas they may overlook securing crucial support resources for their teams. Without sales support in place, you can end up with information gaps, sales rep burnout, and lost prospects.
We’ve established sales support is important. But what exactly is sales support? And what kinds of people or resources are considered sales support?
We’re going to answer those questions in this article. We’ll also talk about why sales support is so important. Finally, we’ll give you some practical ways to improve sales support so your team can achieve maximum success.
What is Sales Support, and Why is it Important?
Sales support is any resource, including people and software, that help the sales team improve their performance and meet their quotas.
The resources used as sales support vary between companies and can even differ between teams. At its core, sales support is any employee or process that improves sales teams’ productivity by freeing them up to spend more time on the work that directly impacts closing deals.
In some cases, sales support may assist with marketing as well. Since marketing is responsible for driving new leads for the sales team, marketing, and sales typically work together closely—so it makes sense for sales support resources to actually support both marketing and sales teams.
One of the most common sales support practices is to outsource various admin-intensive or time-consuming sales tasks. A CRM that directly imports contact information for new leads from a form they’ve completed is a great example of this. This allows sales teams to focus on their core function more effectively.
Now let’s take a closer look at some of the most common aspects of sales support.
Sales Support vs. Customer Support
To get a better idea of what sales support is, it can be helpful to compare it with customer support.
Customer support only includes the agents who work in a customer support role, and is customer-facing. On the other hand, sales support refers to the employees or processes that keep things running smoothly for internal teams.
Typical customer support tasks include answering questions for new leads and existing customers, providing technical support and customer education on new or existing products, handling billing and refunds, and other non-sales-related issues that help keep customers satisfied.
Sales support teams may be responsible for sales support duties such as:
- Cultivating sales leads and filling the sales pipeline
- Taking calls and scheduling appointments
- Developing sales scripts
- Engaging in marketing activities
- Creating email sequences
- Designing social media automation
- Training salespeople
- Hiring and coaching sales representatives
- Implementing customer resource management (CRM) systems and educating people on their use
Although sales support and customer support work together to attract and keep customers, they do so for different audiences.
What Does Sales Support Do?
As you know by now, there are several types of sales support. These supports can be implemented in several ways, all with different levels of impact on an organization.
Let’s take a look at each of these roles, as well as the tools, training materials, and support activities that go along with each.
Provide Sales Product Training
Think back to when you learned to ride a bike. Remember how you did it perfectly the first time you tried? No? Well, that’s because learning new skills doesn’t work like that. When we’re learning something new, we need someone to tell us how it works and support us while we practice.
That’s why one of the most important sales support tasks is product training. Proper sales enablement involves making sure each and every rep knows how to use your products and the tools you use to sell them. Efficient and ongoing sales product trainings ensures your sales reps are always prepared to tell potential customers about the benefits of using them.
Offer Ongoing Technical Support
A great sales team relies on great technology. If you don’t have a CRM to manage your lead generation and sales efforts, you need one stat. CRMs track all your team’s efforts in one place, is accessible to your whole team and stakeholders, and helps your team work together rather than as segmented groups or individuals.
However, software is challenging, especially when onboarding or training new sales reps. That’s why technical support is a critical component of sales support. While it might seem like you can get away with free online software that doesn’t come with a sales support specialist, anyone who’s tried it knows this isn’t true.
As such, make sure technical support is available to your sales team.
Ensure Customer Satisfaction
The post-purchase period is part of the customer cycle, and keeping people happy after they’ve paid you is just as important as convincing them to do so in the first place.
There’s proof that keeping customers happy is good for business. According to an Econsultancy report, 82 percent of companies say it’s cheaper to maintain existing customers than to sign new ones. Another study found that increasing customer retention rates by just 5 percent can increase profits by 25 percent or more.
Sales teams don’t have time to keep existing customers happy, though. This is where a customer support team – dedicated to handling client/customer needs rather than sales or marketing – comes in.
Customer Relationship Management
If you want customers, you need relationships with those customers. (We know, groundbreaking.)
Most customer relationship management tasks can be automated and tracked using a CRM software. You can add your potential customers’ information to your CRM as you receive it, starting in the prospecting stage and continuing through their first purchase and beyond.
Your CRM can even automatically input customer information via lead forms that your prospects complete.
You may also assign some aspects of customer relationship management to employees. In particular, it may be useful to have staff dedicated to handling information entry to your CMS for information that can’t be entered automatically, rather than requiring sales reps to do it. That way, your sales reps have more time to focus on selling.
Leverage Sales Tools and Automation
The marketing team, sales team, and customer support team all benefit from tools that can manage information, automate templated emails, manage day-to-day priorities, and even respond to common customer queries. The human brain can only handle so much, and there are only so many hours in a day.
As you know, sales support doesn’t have to be human, and sales automation software is one of the best ways to support your sales staff. We’ll discuss this more below.
Build Email Campaigns to Keep Prospects Engaged
Another task sales support associates can take on is to write scripts, email campaigns, social media posts, articles, and more. For example, they. might create email sequences like this one ⬇️
That way, sales reps are free to do their jobs – but with a constant source of inbound marketing and outreach efforts working in the background to support them.
How to Improve Your Sales Support + Maximize ROI
How can you optimize sales support to help sales teams improve their performance? Glad you asked.
Most companies don’t provide sales professionals with enough support. McKinsey found that while most companies devote 30 percent of their sales staff to support, the optimal percentage was between 50 and 60. That’s a huge leap.
Moreover, their research demonstrated that the top 25 percent of earners had a sales support ratio of 30 percent higher than the bottom 75 percent. It might seem counterintuitive, but driving more sales means devoting fewer people to the actual sales department and more to support staff.
What else can you do? Here are some of our favorite tips.
1. Qualify Leads
Generating and qualifying leads is a critical step in sales operations. However, sales reps shouldn’t have to take the time to do it. It’s the job of sales support to make sure a lead is ready to become a prospect, and only at that point should a sales rep follow up.
Why? Because if leads aren’t qualified before getting sent to sales teams, sales reps can waste huge amounts of time on leads that either don’t need the product they’re selling or don’t have the budget to purchase it.
Sales reps also shouldn’t have to research and determine if a lead is qualified or not—their skill set is better suited to actually closing sales. Someone else should qualify leads for them.
2. Support the Testing of New Sales Strategies and Analyzing Sales Trends
Not all sales strategies work. Similarly, not all sales trends last. You need to track and measure both constantly, then adjust the sales process as quickly as possible – ideally in real-time. Once you’ve identified a new sales strategy, you should test it and see how well it works, then adjust again.
While sales managers are typically responsible for these tasks, having someone in a support position help with data entry and other administrative tasks may be helpful.
For instance, let’s say you’ve added a new Microsoft product to your sales toolkit. At first, it seems to work well. Then, your sales start to trend downward. It’s the job of sales managers to assess why this might be happening. Their analysis should include questions like:
- When did the downward trend begin?
- What other changes did we make at the time?
- How serious is this issue?
- Can we adjust to accommodate it?
- Do we need to change the software?
Sales support staff can help input data points into a software like Excel so sales managers can analyze the data and draw conclusions.
3. Measuring the Sales Process and Addressing Problems
If you’re not tracking and analyzing your efforts, you can’t improve. Analyzing and drawing conclusions from data is not a skill everyone has. Luckily, you can hire sales analysts to help sales managers with this.
Once you have a good sales team in place, it’s important to keep track of their activities and identify gaps. Have an analyst on your sales support team to assist sales managers.
For instance, if you find that you’re losing lots of people halfway through the sales funnel, you need to figure out why. Sales analysts can enter data and help sales managers identify problem areas.
For example, is your sales script off? Write different ones. Are your email campaigns getting crummy open rates? Do some A/B testing on your marketing materials. Is your CRM a bad product? If yes, get a better CRM. And so on.
Making the Most of Your Sales Support
Organizations without a dedicated sales support plan will suffer. On the flip side of the coin, those that intentionally make room in the staff and budget for support personnel usually find their efforts repaid many times over in closed deals and growing business.
While it’s not possible to summarize the entire sales process in one article, it is important to note good sales support should help with:
- Qualifying leads
- Implementing sales strategies
- Measuring the sales team’s success
- Analyzing market trends
- Helping sales teams pivot to meet trends
- Assessing pricing and profitability on an ongoing basis
- Identifying gaps in the process and providing recommendations on filling them
- Automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks
As such, sales support staff need a number of skills. Among these are great communication, attention to detail, and natural problem-solving skills. Looking for those characteristics in your interviews will take you far.
Another thing that can take you far? Using modern technology and efficient sales tools. Comprehensive, industry-leading, cloud-based software such as Close can help you identify and qualify leads, track outreach effectively, and close more deals.