It is becoming increasingly more common for account executives, sales executives or account managers to generate their own qualified leads and set appointments for themselves.
For small to medium sized businesses this seems logical since the account executive already knows the solution and the value proposition well. They can identify pain points and handle objections and can demonstrate value quickly. This means that they have the best chance of setting up great appointments for themselves and have a better chance of closing the deal. Right?
In reality there are two skill sets required. One to fill the sales pipeline and the other to close the deals.
Ask yourself: Are you asking a Rolls-Royce to do the job of a pickup truck? While a Rolls can do the job, it is nowhere as efficient and costs a lot more than a pickup to do the same thing.
The result for your business is a poorly filled sales funnel and failure to achieve new business goals, or an expensive use of a solution salesperson’s time.
The skills of the account managers are usually not to blame. Many account managers have years of experience and enough expertise to set appointments and engage in a substantive conversation with a prospect in order to close deals. However, we have seen how often this results in fewer opportunities and missed quota.
So where does it go wrong?
#1. During prospecting and cold calling you don’t get around to content
An often heard comment from account executives with consultative selling skills is that “once I’m at the table (with a prospect) I’ll sell it.” However, during cold calling, there isn’t the opportunity to discuss content. Cold calling is all about quickly reaching a lot of prospects and qualifying leads in a short amount of time to give an indication whether a substantive follow-up conversation is possible or not. This is also accompanied by many rejections and unsuccessful call attempts, causing frustration and stress for account executives.
#2. Prospecting and cold calling require good organization, availability and focus
It regularly happens that prospects are interested but that it is not the right time to start conversations with suppliers. They are then asked to call back in 3 or 6 months. This is a positive signal and offers opportunities.
It is essential to keep good records and to set off the necessary alarm bells at the time of the callback.
Sales pros spend only 36% of their time on selling-related tasks.
In practice, this proper administration of call-back moments often leaves much to be desired. In addition, at that particular moment the account manager is often busy with something else (e.g. preparing a quotation or a customer appointment) and gives that priority over calling back. The result is that they call back too late or not at all. Many companies lose potential customers and turnover as a result.
Moreover, lead nurturing is not done so that there is a good chance that the prospect has completely forgotten the conversation of 6 months ago and lost the warmth they once had.
#3. The company’s own sales staff have a lower market reach
Ultimately, you want to reach out to as many prospects as possible in a short amount of time. However, do-it-yourself callers (organizations in which the account managers call themselves) do not have the professional tools that a B2B telemarketing or outsourced pre-sales company does.
The tools they use ensure the speed and efficiency of the calling process for the highest possible reach, especially over longer periods, such as a year. This means that your own sales will reach considerably fewer prospects. Thus, you miss out on potential customers who might have been on the prospect list and might be interested.
#4. The costs are too high
A good account manager with experience easily costs around 5000+ EUR per month. The question is whether this monthly investment is best spent on cold calling or whether this time is better spent on 1-on-1 contact with qualified leads, presentations, demonstrations and quotes?
If you calculate back what an appointment ultimately costs and the number of appointments generated, it often provides a strong business case for employing people for this part of your sales strategy, or better yet, outsourcing it entirely.
Professional pre-sales personnel have the advantage of focus. They can concentrate solely on developing prospect lists, turning those prospects into qualified leads, nurturing those leads and converting them into hot appointments when the time is right.
This requires time and effort, solid administration and a thick skin. We are not saying that account executives can’t do this part of the process, we’re saying they shouldn’t. It simply makes financial sense to do so.