I have to admit that I’m doing this right now.
I am looking for contact information in some target enterprise accounts. It takes time. If you’re not careful, a lot of time.
And I’ve done this many (many) times in my sales career and used many (many) hours of time on this. And I know many senior sales people that have spent lots of time on this too.
If you’re going to sell an enterprise account, you have to do this contact research, so what’s the discussion? This is just the cost of doing business.
Sales people should sell
Apparently, a lot of sales people think researching this kind of contact data is the price of doing business too. Even outside of enterprise sales where I could claim this burden is higher than in selling to small business, sales people seem to spend a huge amount of time not selling.
A couple pieces of research data:
- Xant (formerly InsideSales.com): in a 2017 study Xant found sales people spend an average of 36.6% of their time on revenue generating activities.
- Accenture: An Accenture study found roughly similar results, with 15% of a reps time allocated to research.
Cost of data digging
Some math on the time spent doing this, reveals that companies and sales people could be paying a high cost for this work.
If a sales person makes $100k per year and we add 30% to take into account health insurance, taxes etc. and this sales person spends 15% of their time on contact research then this cost is almost $20K per year or $1,600 (roughly) per month (per sales person).
Enterprise selling needs data
If you need this data and are spending too long researching it, why not just buy it? There are dozens (hundreds?) of services to buy lists from today. They are not particularly expensive but are they good, especially for something like enterprise sales?
Here’s a typical story from one of my friends at Contactpersona.io. A company bought 300 “leads” from a well-known data provider but after sorting through them only ended up with 100 contact records that were useful to them, thus tripling the hard cost of the data and adding a bunch of cost for all the manual labor associated with sorting through these leads.
Delegate to elevate
Time is money. More so in sales than in any other profession I would say. If you want to be a successful sales person you need to manage your time (very) carefully. Digging for contact data is not likely the best use of your time.
As with all business processes, if you want to increase the value of your time, and hence your income, you need to delegate admin type work to others.
You will need to develop your own team. This is totally doable now in the modern world. There are millions of people available for freelance work at an hourly rate far lower than the going rate for an enterprise sales person ($65/hour based on the calculation above).
This is where some sales people get stuck and put a ceiling on their own success. They do not invest in their own success.
Sales comp plans are nearly always leveraged. The more you sell, the more you get paid. Building your own team is a way to give yourself more time to sell. More time selling is very likely to bring more sales. More sales bring more compensation, which gives you more to invest etc.
Successful delegation requires some technique. Although millions of people exist to help you, you need to define carefully what they need to do. You need to tell them which contacts you are looking for specifically. You need to document this carefully. Then as questions come up, you need to handle them and add to your documentation as necessary.
Building a team and process may not be for everyone in sales. If that’s the case, find a firm to help you build a quality database of contacts (like Contactpersona.io.) Don’t relegate yourself permanently to the role of data gopher!
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