We’ve all experienced the frustration of overbooking our to-do list. We plan to tackle 10, 15 or even 20 tasks in a single day, only to check off one or two. It’s not that we aren’t willing or capable. It’s just that there are only so many hours in a day.

A similar mismatch of expectations occurs when Marketing generates hundreds or even thousands of leads for Sales to go after. But since the number of leads far outpaces the Sales team’s ability to follow up with each one, organizations run into the dreaded sales capacity challenge.

Our own Rashmi Vittal (Chief Marketing Officer at Conversica) discusses this predicament in a recent webinar titled “The Sales Capacity Challenge: How to Never Miss a Sales-Ready Opportunity” alongside Gerhard Gschwandtner (Founder and CEO at Selling Power) and Brett Blackney (Global Director of Sales Development at HackerRank).

According to an in-webinar poll, 71 percent of respondents said they struggle with the sales capacity challenge. While this poll is admittedly limited to its attending audience, many organizations struggle with this issue without even realizing it. After all, excessive lead volume and overstretched Sales teams are kind of the norm.

Below we will investigate the sales capacity challenge, its consequences and its solutions.

 

Facing the Challenge

While booking meetings and boosting engagement is important for any Sales team, the end goal is always to generate revenue. But when you have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of Marketing Generated Leads (MQLs) going untouched, it’s possible that you are missing Sales-ready opportunities as well.

The most obvious response to ease this burden is to hire more staff members. However, this is simply not an option for a lot of organizations looking to keep costs down. Similarly, some organizations only experience excessive lead volume during certain times of year or after trade shows and other events. In these cases of temporary variable lead volumes, hiring more staff just isn’t a viable strategy.

This begs the question, how do you touch the greatest number of leads in an efficient manner?

 

How Do You Touch the Greatest Number of Leads in an Efficient Manner?

The first step is to recognize that not all leads are created equally. Some incoming leads are “Sales-ready” meaning they are apt to speak with your Sales team. Other leads are “nurture-ready” meaning they are not yet interested in a conversational with Sales, but they are interested in investigating your company and offerings.

How do you know the difference? Traditionally, Marketing and Sales teams qualify leads through predictive scoring. The methodology is pretty straightforward: Incoming leads who match your preferred buyer profile receive higher lead scores. Ditto for prospects who download certain pieces of Marketing content such as a buyers guide. While this strategy still has its place in the grand scheme, it’s only an estimation. To truly determine which leads are Sales-ready, all you have to do is ask.

Of course, this runs right back into the sales capacity challenge. Asking each and every incoming lead whether they are interested in speaking to a Salesperson takes a lot of time and effort. It’s a repetitive and redundant task that will inevitably result in some “yeses”s and a lot of “nos”s and “not yets”s. So rather than having your employees chase down each and every lead, why not adopt an Intelligent Virtual Assistant to ask “are you interested” at scale?

 

Solving the Sales Capacity Challenge with an Intelligent Virtual Assistant

Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) helps people do what they do best. By automating many of the redundant and tedious tasks employees don’t like to do, IVAs allow employees can focus on what they love to do, such as thinking strategically, building relationships and closing deals.

When asked, “Do you think an AI Assistant can help alleviate your sales capacity challenge?”  93 percent of webinar respondents said, “Yes.”

One reason why a Sales AI Assistant is so helpful is that, on average, Inside Sales touch leads only touch leads zero to two times. However, the optimal number of touches is between seven and 10. Salespeople do not have the time (nor frankly, the desire) to make this many outreach attempts. Luckily for everyone, a Sales AI Assistant can handle the golden number of touches persistently, consistently and politely until intent is determined.

Another benefit is that a Sales AI Assistant actually drives revenue. IVAs elevate Sales-ready leads at the moment they express interest in booking a meeting, it reaches out to incoming leads within minutes (rather than hours or days later), and it identifies handraisers among low-qualifying leads your teamemployees doesn’t have the time to touch. All of these factors ensure that no opportunity is missed.

 

Further Recommendations

While an Intelligent Virtual Assistant can unlock more opportunities, it can’t do everything. Teams still need to work together towards a common goal. One example is the alignment between Marketing and Sales. If these two teams are using different language in their communications, there is going to be a messaging disconnect for prospects. A Conversica Sales AI Assistant is always consistent in its communication because it is built that way. Your teams need to be built upon the same consistent messaging too.

HackerRank’s Brett Blackney also recommends that Marketing and Sales align ahead of trade shows, conferences and big media pushes. This preps Inside Sales team for an influx of leads and makes sure everything moves smoothly during outreach.

Another recommendation is to find the proper division of duties between Salespeople and IVAs. In most cases, organizations leverage a “start slow and grow” strategy. For example, an organization might put a Sales AI Assistant on re-engaging old leads. Once the strategy proves fruitful, the organization may expand its use cases.

 

The Takeaway

It’s simply not reasonable to expect your Sales team to spend energy on chasing every single lead. But fortunately, an Intelligent Virtual Assistant can augment your team so they can focus on closing deals. It’s time to let people do what they do best, technology to do what it does best.

Curious to see how an Intelligent Virtual Assistant might augment your workforce? Request a Demo of the Conversica Sales AI Assistant today!

And watch the Sales Capacity Challenge webinar to hear more great insights.