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Sales Admin: the Unsung Hero of Closing Deals

If you think about what it takes to be a good salesperson, what qualities spring to mind? 🧠

You might think about being a clear communicator. Or being coachable. These are all essential skills to being successful.

But the unsung hero of closing sales has to be admin.

Throughout your career, you’ll need to develop your admin skills to stay on top of your inbox, get feedback from colleagues, and block out time for follow-ups.

Knowledge is power. So we wanted to share insights from three of Cognism’s brightest salespeople, all at different points in their careers.

Here are the highlights.

  1. A solid sales admin process builds a strong foundation for success.
  2. Timing is key. Get on top of admin before it gets on top of you!
  3. Be a lifelong student. Learn admin hacks from your team.
  4. Looking after your admin = looking after your mental well-being.

In this blog, you’ll hear from:

1. Follow up before you forget!

Admin should form the foundation of your sales process. That way, you’ll be able to scale and repeat your sales success as you progress in your career.

Take it from Sophie, who understands the difference between sales admin as an SDR and a Senior Commercial AE.

Sophie:

“[As an AE], you have to be much more accountable for your own time. Because there are not as many strict targets.”

“There's no daily targets like you have as an SDR. Like the number of calls, a certain amount of emails, or activity metrics. So you have to be a lot more self-motivated to be good at admin.”

“The way I do that is like I've got a reminder in the morning to block time out for my self gen. I don't like to put specific times in place because I know that having too much structure isn't a good thing.”

“It's good to have some kind of flexibility over your daily working hours. My main one is making sure I have zero inbox.”

For Senior Enterprise SDR Toria, admin is super-important to stay on top of her cold calling process. Her top two admin tips are setting tasks in Salesforce and staying on top of her Scratchpad.

Toria:

“You are calling people most of the day. So if you're not following up on those tasks that you've set, or if you're not even setting tasks. You'll forget to call these people back.”

“So first and foremost, try to set Salesforce tasks on anyone you've called. If they've given you a referral. If they've asked you to send an email with more information or want you to reach back in Q2.”

“You're calling 70 to 100 people a day. You're never going to remember that one person who told you to call them back."

"So Salesforce tasks are super-important. Another thing that’s important is using Scratchpad. I live and die by Scratchpad!”

“Everything that I put on my Scratchpad is what I refer to on a call. Whenever I call someone, I'll have my Scratchpad up to look at the notes I've gathered from any ICs or previous conversations.”

“In the SDR function, our managers recently changed our Scratchpad around. So it has everything that you need to refer to on a call. Things like tech stack, who the main decision-makers are, what their pain points and goals are.”

“Anyone can look at your Scratchpad and get an instant reminder of what's happened before in that account.”

If you’re unsure where to start with cold calling, here are five key things to explore with your prospects. These are examples specific to Cognism, but you can adapt them for your own sale process. 🏆

An infographic with five key things to explore with your prospects.

For Enterprise Sales Manager Tom, sales admin has evolved to include pipeline automation:

Thomas:

“Pipeline automation is a skill I now class as admin rather than standard work. This can be as simple as progressing sequences in Outreach, tasks, and follow-ups.”

“Setting time aside for these as standard ensures you never fall behind on your due dates. And it also helps to keep the momentum rolling on your opportunities (or operational tasks).”

“Our space is very competitive. There are a lot of B2B data providers around these days, and we have to keep that edge. So it's about capitalising on that; good admin makes sure we’re all over that.”

No matter what stage of your sales career you’re in, having a solid admin process will allow you to keep advancing and closing deals. 🤝

2. Prioritise essential sales admin

There are only 24 hours in a day. And it’s up to you as a salesperson to prioritise what you get done at work.

Some admin tasks take longer than others. And if you leave them on your to-do list for too long, they can get on top of you.

Everyone does things differently, but it’s important to get into the habit of checking off your essential admin tasks. The team gave their advice:

Thomas:

“I would say Salesforce and Outlook take the most admin effort. And pieces like Outreach, Kluster and Gong assist with these efforts.”

“The tech that helps with admin is primarily from a ‘user-interface’ perspective. Like a good sales intelligence tool that generates reporting overview for easy digestion. It’s a key to effective time management and helps you know where to focus your admin efforts.”

Sophie:

“We've got a completely different group of personalities in our team. I know that some people are way more on top of admin, and others aren't.”

“So you have to do the bare minimum to ensure you’re keeping yourself in check. What's really important for everyone to do is to follow up straight after a demo.”

“I know that many people in the team find that if they wait two or three hours after a demo... They can't follow up as well as if they'd done it straight after the call.”

“It's not always possible. But sometimes making yourself do it before lunch will mean you'll thank yourself in the long run.”

“Some days, I’ll have three or four demos. If you leave one demo and go into another, sometimes I find myself doing both follow-ups at once. At that point, you can get really mixed up!”

“That's why we have tools like Gong to help you out with that. But it's an extra step that will take you a little bit longer.”

“I'm massive on leaving Post-It notes to remind myself to do things. So I'll make a to-do list every morning to ensure I get everything checked off. I'll never leave a call without a follow-up for the next day. It's better to start the day with a clean slate.

“I always say: if you can do a task in a couple of minutes, just do it. Do it now.”

Not sure what notes to include in your admin? Don’t worry! Here’s a demo notes template used by Cognism’s SDRs after every cold call. Edit this to match your requirements: 📝

A demo notes template used by SDRs on every cold call.

3. Learn new admin hacks from your team

To close deals and succeed in SaaS sales, you need to be constantly learning.

Not every part of the journey will be easy. But if you reach out to your team and mentors, you’ll be amazed at the advice they can share to make your admin easier.

Toria:

“I would say everyone does admin differently, right? I know when I first joined, I used to write notes on pen and paper and then obviously would lose those notes!”

“So it's good to look at people around you and how they do it.”

“Look at the best performers and how they're booking meetings. Or how they follow up on those tasks. I know I've looked at many people's Scratchpads and taken ideas from everybody.”

“But at the end of the day, my Scratchpad will look completely different to someone else's. And they're still incredible at what they do. So it's about getting a feel for what you know and doing what will remind you to follow up on those tasks.”

Sophie’s sister Megan recently started working as an SDR. She shared some of the advice she gave her in a LinkedIn post.

She explains why having autonomy over your pipeline is vital.

“What works for one person will not always work for another.”

“With the SDR role, it's about having autonomy over your own pipeline. And in the beginning, you have to drive and keep loads and loads of things on the go.”

“The one thing I said to her was, make sure before you leave the office every evening that you have sequences filled. So that when you come in the next morning, you can do all the LinkedIn sets or the email steps in the morning. Then as soon as it hits 9am, get on the phone straight away!”

Sophie’s top tip:

“Get your worst task done at the start of the day. Otherwise, you’ll spend all day thinking about it.”

💡 Tom’s hack for building strong customer relationships is counting your pre-call research as part of your sales admin. After all, the more you know about a prospect, the stronger connection and value prop you can give when you call.

Tom:

“I would argue [that admin] is a staple for every demo and engagement.”

“Even now that I’m no longer a direct IC (but am lucky enough to work with extremely skilled ICs), admin in the form of meeting structure (or first call structure) is paramount to a successful sales meeting.”

“I’d also count due diligence before a call to be an absolutely key part of admin. The best salespeople ask questions and plug those answers into the areas they need to present and add value.

“If you treat your pre-demo research as admin, you’ll build a much stronger customer relationship.”

Looking for more sales motivation? Hit play for tips from Ryan Resiert and Dale Yasunaga! 💡

 

4. Set up repeatable admin processes

There’s no way around it: sales is a stressful job. But there are ways to handle it.

Whether you’re entirely new to B2B sales or you’ve been in the industry for years, looking after your mental well-being is going to be essential for your success.

Setting up a repeatable admin process will help take (some of) the stress out of sales. Take it from the team!

Tips for building a repeatable sales admin process

Block out your calendar

Toria:

“I've never worked in sales beforehand; this is my first sales role. One thing I recommend, which we cover in onboarding, is blocking off your calendar. So you're not getting too overwhelmed.”

“It's so easy to chase your tail, especially as an SDR. But if you block your calendar out and you have 30 minutes in the morning to do admin, and two hours to cold call, then you follow that structure. You'll feel so much more relaxed at the end of the day. Because you know you followed that structure, and you know everything's ticked off.

Set reminders

Tom:

"I always need clear reminders in play (I use Outlook prompts). Popping 15 minutes in my calendar as a reminder. It might seem sort of old school, but it works for me. I find if I don't do that, I always feel like I've forgotten something."

"It's like when you make a cup of tea and leave it on the side. In the back of your mind, you know you need to drink it before it goes cold. If I don't set a reminder for something, I know I will forget it  because there's too much going on.”

Be protective of your own time

Sophie:

“Being protective of your own time is so important as an IC. Especially for me at the end of a quarter when I know that it's going to be highly stressful. It's important to be able to concentrate on getting my deals in.”

“So feeling like you can say no to like internal meetings. Or blocking out Monday mornings or Fridays. Even just between calls to stay on top of your deals and make sure you have official next steps in place.”

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