By Nicola Cook, CEO of Company Shortcuts.
I spend all day everyday fine tuning my clients’ Sales Engines and not surprisingly there are some common ‘quick fixes’ that I see time and time again.
These often small changes will have a massive impact on the output of your own sales function (and remember I purposefully call a company’s sales function -their Sales Engine, because it encompasses strategy, people, processes and sales skills). Here are my top five ‘quick fixes’;
1. Learn to qualify
..and I mean really qualify – every single opportunity. If you have a massive pipeline, but poor conversion. A huge marketing spend that is producing lots of hits but not much else. Or a large number of opportunities that seem to be stuck at proposal stage -then I guarantee your team do not know how to deeply and thoroughly qualify.
Why do your customers buy from you? What are their triggers? What are their barriers? What is their desired buying process? What does success look like for them? How will they add your value to their own and increase their own competitive advantage? You need to know these answers…and a tonne more!
Even if you have lots of repeat clients, or inbound leads – just because an opportunity is inbound doesn’t automatically make them qualified (A BIG mistake!). Ensure you have compiled your own lead scoring system and trained all of your people to understand how to uncover a client’s buying need AND position in their own buying journey. At a very basic level – what is your sales template for your own qualification questioning framework?
2. Teach Profit Priorities
Does everybody in your business (not just your sales team) know an opportunity if it walked up to them and tapped them on the shoulder? Or what if they had to prioritise between three or four opportunities at the same time? How would they make those decisions? Unless you’ve communicated this clearly and built a supporting process, you’re leaving it to chance that your people would act the same way as you. Don’t – fix it!
3. Introduce sales admin support
It is reported that most BDMs spend less than 20% of their time actually selling, and let’s face it – these people typically are rubbish at ticking boxes, but if they’re good at what they do – release them to more selling. Give them a sweeper-upper to work alongside them to do the follow-ups, the nurturing on Linkedin, the compiling of proposals, the CRM updating…and anything else that can either be systemised or digitalised. Then double their targets and tell them to make it so. No more excuses. Focus people on what they’re good at and remove the rest.
4. Measure sales activity not just output
Sales people are typically measured on one metric and one metric alone – their number. BUT, within every business lies a sales algorithm. Uncover that algorithm, then you can scale. Correlating activity to output, is like walking into a room and switching the lights on – there is no more beautiful feeling than having that predictability in your business.
With my clients I introduce a metric we call the Sales Engine Index. An index created from the four key sales activities: number of leads, conversion rate, average order value, and average lead time – then we map it against sales output in the same period. Over the course of about six months a correlation between sales activity and sales revenue will begin to emerge. You can then confidently use your index number as a reliable indicator of future revenue – powerful stuff.
5. Never, ever, EVER close on a proposal!
All my businesses know the fastest way to wind me up is to catch them doing this!
You’ve invested in lead generation, nurtured an opportunity, managed to engage them, qualified them AND finally you’re in a position to offer them a product or solution that will fulfil their need and deliver them value. Maybe you’re sat in front of them, or you could be engaging over the phone or on Skype/Hangout and you need to go away and put together all your ideas into a proposal – fair enough.
BUT you should never, ever, E-V-E-R end that interaction simply promising to send them a proposal on email! If you do you’ve lost control of the sale and you are at the mercy of their own timescales and motivation to read what you send through and get back to you – and they’re business people remember. They have other stuff to do.
Maybe they need to involve someone else in the decision-making process at that point, or they need Board buy-in – fine, so say this instead:
“If you like what we talked about today, can I have your agreement that we will diarise our next meeting/conversation and we’ll talk through a number of options?”
Agree the next touchpoint in the diary first – then send them the proposal an hour beforehand. You’re much more likely to keep control of the sale timelines.
So Northern Insight readers…spring has officially sprung, GO AND FIX THESE FIVE THINGS and have an awesome month!
To watch a video on how to improve the sales focus of your business follow this link: companyshortcuts.com/neinsight