What happens when a small business needs to scale the reach of its sales force? Can you reach a larger prospect base and still make sure your sales process has a personal touch? How do you scale “personal?”

It’s one of the biggest yet most rewarding challenges in small and medium size businesses. The key lies in empowering your salespeople’s best intentions.

Expectations and implications

Large, stable enterprises can afford to have huge sales teams that meet the needs of prospects across industries and regions. They can maintain a ratio of salespeople to prospects that makes personalized service affordable and even efficient.

But when small companies are growing fast, things are rarely this neat. The existing sales team often has to over-extend itself just to keep up with all the new prospects they’re pursuing. More importantly, the company likely hasn’t built up enough brand equity to start resting on its laurels either.

It’s an incredible amount of pressure on scarce resources at a time when the success of any relationship still hinges on the relevance of the proposal being submitted. Your prospects are still thinking:

  • “How specifically relevant is this offer to us?”
  • “What’s the one thing this little company can offer that no one else can?”
  • “Have they shown that they actually know who I am?”
  • “Are they a mature enough organization to handle my business?”

Operationalizing the ‘personal’

Scale is hard because your salespeople have to make a bigger impact in a smaller amount of time, serving more people than they would have just a few months ago.

But it’s important to remember that even though your sales team may have spent more time focusing on a prospect when the business was smaller, it’s not like they were doing it efficiently. They still had to spend a fair chunk of time doing their homework and drafting the right proposal.

Really, the major challenge of growth is replacing your inefficient, small company processes without losing the small company feeling.

To give your sales team more time to spend with prospects, look for ways to cut the amount of time they spend doing anything else.

If your workflow for drafting, reviewing and submitting a proposal is a slow, paper-based slog – that’s what you need to fix. If it takes them ages to find and file their paperwork – give them better ways to manage that information. If they’re practically rewriting whole proposals from scratch, make sure they can easily customize existing drafts.

Even the tiniest inefficiencies add up. The average American worker with an inefficient shared central printer spends three extra minutes a day just waiting for documents to print. If you just got rid of the old document processes that get in their way, you’d be able to give each one each salesperson thirteen extra hours to personalize their proposals.

After that, you can give them powerful new ways to personalize their proposals and automate the admin. Like Apple® AirPrint™, an easy way to print from mobile devices. Or ConnectKey®, which lets sales people scan directly into cloud services like Evernote or GoogleDrive – then assemble new proposals from these assets. (It also supports custom and ‘favorite’ workflow recipes that sales people love once they discover – but that’s for another time).

This stuff matters. Because, when you were a small business, you could get away with adding a personal touch even if you did it in an inefficient way. But as your business scales, so do its inefficiencies. And if you aren’t careful, those inefficiencies will strangle your sales team’s ability to personalize – when their success depends on a personal touch the most.

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