A series of essays about sales, startups, & general banter by Nick Persico

Tools of the Trade (Part 2)

"Tools of the Trade" is a series of posts that cover all of the services and processes we use on the sales team at Krossover. Make sure you check out Part 1.

In part two of my "Tools of the Trade" series, we'll cover every aspect of how we manage our inbound sales process.

Inbound Lead Sources

At Krossover, inbound leads come to us from a wide variety of places. I like to think that our market is unique because we don't have a large amount of prospects actively searching for the product and services we provide. The audience is just not there. This means that common search engine marketing strategies have a low return and don't really work.

This forces us to constantly generate inbound sales ourselves. We have direct and indirect content to get prospects to come to us. I can't recall one of our sales reps ever hearing a coach say "I was Googling about game film breakdown and found you guys". It just doesn't happen.

It may seem like an oxymoron, but we create outbound marketing to generate inbound.

Here are the most common inbound lead sources we have:

  • Website Sign Ups
  • Twitter (a mix of organic + sponsored + followers)
  • LinkedIn (organic + sponsored)
  • Coaches Clinics & Events
  • Referrals

Avoid Manual Lead Creation At All Costs

We are in a relatively "fixed" market. Our prospects are mostly high schools and colleges, which makes lead sourcing pretty easy. For us, "verticals" are sports, not types of a businesses. With our present product and service offering, we know the maximum amount of customers we could conceivably have.

Because of this, we actually don't wait for the leads to come to us. We create all of the leads and place whatever sourced data we can find for every potential customer beforehand. Then we match the new leads coming in against the "database" of leads we created.

Why is this important? Clean and streamlined data.

I absolutely hate it when sales reps or anyone manually enters leads. Not only is it a huge time waster, but it's really difficult to get everyone using the same formatting.

For example:

  • Jerry creates a lead called Central High School
  • Billy creates a lead called Central HS
  • Sally creates a lead called Central High School - California

No. You must control how all data is entered. Sales reps don't mind because the only true data entry they are doing is activity based.

As leads come in, sales reps are trained to search the database and merge/append the new information to the lead that already exists. This promotes clean and complete data, and saves everyone time. It also forces the sales rep to look and see if there is any previous history on the supposed new lead he/she is about to reach out to.

The rule is that if you are selling to a relatively pre-defined market, try to source and import all of the prospects first. Then let inbound and sales rep activity data be appended to the lead that already exists.

For example: If you want to pitch all of the companies in the "Fortune 500", gather and source all 500 companies in your CRM prior to outreach begins. Then start to append all of the activity. Or else, Microsoft will be in your CRM several times.

Website → Zapier → CRM

A service that we use heavily is Zapier.

Zapier allows us "zap" data to-and-from various services that we use. Need to send Wufoo entries to the CRM? Zap it. Need to send certain types of customer emails to Desk for the support team to handle? Zap it.

Here are the top five "zaps" we use with Zapier:

  1. Send new Wufoo form entries to Close.io.
  2. Send new chat messages into HipChat from Close.io and Desk.
    • Ex: "Billy just closed Central High School for $1000. Good job!"
  3. Send new website signup leads to Close.io.
  4. Send tweets about Krossover into HipChat.
  5. Create new support tickets in Desk from tweets and other services.

For anyone that is looking to streamline data from a wide variety of services using a simple UI rather than working with an API, I highly recommend Zapier.

Our marketing team creates their own zaps without a single line of code!

Lead Assignment

As we have grown our sales team, we've also had to mitigate the assignment of leads. We want every sales rep to succeed, and want at least 40% of their pipeline to be from inbound sales. We needed to create a system that assigned leads fairly and accurately, and have a process that involved the sales rep as little as possible.

Most importantly, we want a sales rep to have absolutely zero doubts when going after a new lead they receive. We want them to take ownership and not worry about stepping on toes. We believe the best way to do this is fully investigate each lead we receive and assign it to the correct person.

Therefore, our lead assignment system is purely human.

As leads come in, our sales management team investigates each lead and decides if it needs to be sent to someone working on that school already or go into the rotation. While it may seem like a lot of work, it actually saves the sales reps the burden of doing the investigation themselves.

They are notified of new leads in Close.io via a task, with all of the contact information already populated for them. All of the sales campaign tracking is there too, so all they have to worry about is pitching and closing. Nothing else matters.

The lesson here is to try and avoid your sales team confronting each other about who owns what lead. Just handle it for them from the start.

When conflicts pop up (and they will), just have them bring it up to the sales manager to handle it objectively together. It protects each rep and will go a long way in terms of giving your team confidence when they call on a new lead.

Part 3 - Outbound Sales & Marketing

In part three, I will go into how we've managed to scale and run a profitable outbound sales campaign that generates up to 60% of our total sales pipeline. Until then, happy selling!

Profile of Nick Persico

Nick Persico

Head of Growth at Close.io. Previous: Co-Founder of Smart Host (StartupBus 2014, Techstars Austin S14), VP of Ops at Krossover, and sales at Sysco. Baltimore Orioles and Ravens fan. GIF enthusiast.