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Don’t “B” The “ANT” When You Find an Opportunity!

There are many CRM systems that measure the “Probability to Close” metric of a sale for our organizations. There are also many discussions on social media about how we can effectively measure the likelihood that a particular piece of business that we are chasing will become reality for the organization.  This potentially creates a problem for our organizations when that particular piece of business might not actually become a reality at all.  How can our organization effectively plan resources based on a “Whim” that is entered without a factual basis by us?

As sales people, our organization trusts that we are bringing qualified opportunities that will close within a given amount of time so they can plan on delivering the goods and services that we are selling to make the customer happy and deliver a profit for everyone involved.

What criteria do we use to measure probability for our organizations?  I would offer the following criteria to ensure the proper amount of resources are dedicated to the proper opportunities that we deliver.  We need to answer the following criteria that define the actual sale and assign a value to it to ensure success for all of the stakeholders.  The criteria is known as “BANT”

Budget = 20%: Do the prospects have the budget to purchase what we are offering to them as a value?

Authority = 20%: Are we speaking with the decision maker(s) that can purchase the product or service that can add value to them?

Need = 20%: Do they need what we are offering as a product or service and can it add value to them?

Timing = 20%: Can they purchase the product or service that we offer within a given timeframe that will produce value for both stakeholders?

The remaining 20% is all “Us”.  Are we and our company a credible source of the product or service that will bring them the identified value in the time frame that they expect instead of the competition that they have also met with?  I guarantee you that we are not the only choice they have!

Most of us do not ask the right questions to discover the Budget” before we present a solution and then are surprised by a response from the prospect that they can not afford our product or service.  How do those sales meetings and reviews work out for us after the time and resources you have spent chasing the business?

By using the above criteria to measure our opportunities, we can ensure that the organization will align behind us to deliver the necessary resources for the qualified opportunities that we are delivering.  Don’t miss the “B”!

4 Critical Questions to Answer for a Fast Marketing ROI

Your marketing funds are decreasing, your usual marketing efforts are producing fewer sales, your marketing message has not changed in years, and your client base is shrinking.  You need a marketing makeover that will produce results quickly.

A quick exercise with your executive team can produce fast results by answering four questions about your business.

  • Who are your ideal clients?
  • What do they want?
  • How do they buy?
  • How do they want to be communicated with?

Answer these four critical questions and you will be able spend your marketing funds more efficiently and realize a higher return on your marketing investment because you are reaching your targeted audience with a specific value proposition that will call them to action.

Every Company has Low Hanging Fruit

The question “How do we grow sales quickly?” is asked in every business on a weekly basis.  The easy answer for us is that you would not have to ask that question if your sales function was doing three simple activities on a regular basis.

Asking for additional business from existing clients

When was the last time you met with your top clients to review the current business you were doing with them, showed them what else you could do for them better than others, and asked what they were planning that you might be able to help them with?

Asking for referrals from existing clients

Your clients have stayed with you for a reason.  When was the last time you asked them who they knew in the industry that you could help as well and who else they do business with where you might be a fit?

Asking for new business from other “ideal” future clients

Can you identify your best clients and why you have been able to be a partner with them?  Take your success and replicate it by producing a marketing piece about why people do business with you and send it to other “ideal” prospects with a call to action about engaging you.

These simple activities are often overlooked because businesses get caught up in their business and do not focus on them.  Make these activities part of your regular sales meetings and their will be no need to have conversations about how you can grow sales quickly.

What if you don’t have to hire another salesperson to increase your opportunities in the market?

Salespeople are expensive to organizations and are expected to have a return on investment anywhere from 3 to 10 times their value depending on sales margins.  However, most salespeople only sell 60% of the time because they are involved with too many non-selling activities.  This in not necessarily their fault and the problem can be corrected by integrating the non-selling activities into the internal job positions they already have.

Activities without providing proper resources:

  • Supporting customers
  • Providing quotes and RFP requests
  • Collecting payments
  • Developing marketing materials
  • Coordinating internal resources

 Activities with the proper resources in place:

  • Networking with strategic partners
  • Collaborating with current clients on additional opportunities and referrals
  • Meeting with more qualified prospects
  • Closing more ideal clients
  • Making more money for the company and themselves

Don’t let your revenue generating positions do non revenue generating activities.  Any organization can increase their opportunities in the market if they have the right people in the right positions doing the right activities.

Drive Your Own Car in Your Own Lane

Recently on American Idol, Phillip Phillips sang Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition” to close out the first “American Idol” finals round.

Steven Tyler said, “you just are…Okay”…. Jennifer Lopez liked how he made the song his own and said “you killed it.” Randy Jackson liked his originality and liked how he interpreted somebody else’s song and told him “You drive your own car in your own lane!”

That hit a point with me about the entrepreneurial companies I work with on a weekly basis and how they have had success doing things their way but are not always fully understood.

When an entrepreneurial company wants to do something new, navigate into a new market, or develops a new way of doing things, they do not always get positive feedback from the direct “stakeholders”  about what they envision or what they are trying to accomplish. Two reasons for this are 1) that they have not effectively communicated why they are trying to do something new, and 2) they do not have the right people in place to execute their vision.

Have a vision, set a goal, create a plan, communicate the plan to all parties involved, inform everyone of their role in the plan, live by example, and do what you say you are going to do.  Once these things are in place, you can hold people accountable to their role in the plan and you will be driving your own car in your own lane and continuing your success.

The Benefits of Role Playing

What if your sales team could increase their conversion rate without spending money on expensive training programs? What if you could increase the velocity of your sales funnel without changing your personnel?  What if you could increase your client base without increasing your marketing budget?

Role playing is one of the most effective training tools that sales managers and organizations can use so why do not more managers or organizations use it on a regular basis?

Let’s look at the benefits of using role playing on a regular basis:

  • Cross pollinating best practices amongst team members.
  • Increased organizational understanding of market challenges.
  • Efficient and confident navigation of client objections.
  • Development of highly targeted marketing messages.
  • Less training costs to the organization.
  • Increased sales team confidence and camaraderie.
  • Increased conversion rates of opportunities.

Peer review can be one of the scariest events that sales people can go through because it has the chance of revealing weakness to other members of the organizations.  It’s time to get over the fear.  By working role playing into the regular sales meetings, managers can improve the effectiveness of their teams and organizations can increase their conversion rates to close more of their opportunities.

Why You Need Proven Outsourced Expertise

The word “Consulting” has become just as eyeball rolling to business leaders as the word “sales” and the joke is that if you are not part of the solution, there is money in perpetuating the problem. Not having the right expertise to work within your organization to make the necessary changes properly has the same effect as not being able to complete a project before you start another one. It is the same problem that new employees experience after 18 month of employment…..They get caught up in the minutia of everyday business and eventually become part of the problem.

Companies have downsized their management and senior knowledge holders, lost their internal expertise, and the employees that have survived are so multitasked that nothing is able to be improved because no single individual is able to focus long enough on the task at hand.

A good “consultant” is able to work with their client to help identify a problem, develop and plan to fix the problem, use internal resources efficiently to integrate the necessary changes, and then leaves the client with a sustainable solution.

FIFO and Project Management Failure

In a conversation at lunch with my first client that is still a client, we started to talk about all of the ongoing projects in the company outside the scope of my delivery and what is keeping them for accomplishing them.

I discovered that my client falls into the classic seven-eigthers group that most companies become part of when they cannot complete even one project before the next idea and direction comes from the top.  Hence they only get 7/8 of the projects completed and then are surprised when there are still in the same position they were two years ago.  Their agility and ability to move forward is non-existent.

Ever been told to finish what you start?  FIFO is an accounting term for First-In-First-Out and if you apply that same principle to project management then every new good idea would see success because it would be placed at the bottom of the pile before it would be addressed.  A simple practice that if re-purposed would help companies maintain their agility in the market place.

I am proud to report that all projects managed by me as it pertains to building their sales engine have been completed on schedule and the client is currently experiencing an increase of 38% in revenues over the same period last year.

How to Become An “Opportunity Creator”

A mentor recently reminded me that the word “sales” is not always perceived well when used in a  conversation.  It is unfortunate but true because some “sales people” have ruined the reputation of all of us through non-standard practices that are remembered and shared with others.  Even those companies and employees that I coach have trouble being called “sales people” even though what they do does have an impact on company revenues.  Maybe that is why most businesses do not even print the word “sales” on business cards.

The primary duties of anyone in the business development field is to create opportunties for their company by finding a need in the marketplace and filling that need the products or services that their company offers.  How do you do that without being “sales’ like?  I would offer that the activities that you do have an impact on how you are perceived and that some of the best sales people I have know have never been described to me as “sales people”.

What do these people do differently that leads to increased opportunities for their companies?

  • Perform strategic business reviews with current clients that helps them understand how you have added value to their business and what other services you offer
  • Conduct lunch-n-learn sessions for account managers in other companies that can refer you to opportunities in their client base.
  • Schedule breakfast and lunch meetings with centers of influence that are secondary stakeholders in targeted companies you want to work with.
  • Focus your free time and champion a non-profit by volunteering your services to help with their fund development.
  • Ask current clients for referrals.
  • Introduce your clients to prospects, strategic partners, and other service providers that help them grow and improve their business.
  • Make sure all of your family and friends know what you do.

Working any of these tactics into your activity calendar will help you increase your opportunities without the traditional sales tactics that are taught in videos and highlighted in the movies.

Everyone Has a Part in Creating Opportunities for Their Organization

It has become quite apparent lately that employees in non-traditional selling roles are being asked to help create more opportunities for their organizations.  Attorneys, specialized consultants, sales support personnel, engineers, bankers, and traditional account managers, executive directors, and even board members are all attending meetings and being given new “selling” tasks…usually with a reply like “If I wanted to be in sales, I would have applied for it!”

Downsizing, budgets cuts, shrinking margins, shrinking markets, and changes in client buying behavior, and increased costs are finally leading organizations to realize that they have to pick up the phone, they have to go knock on doors, and they have to go out and build relationships in the community…..and guess what, there is no budget to hire someone specifically for “sales”.

Sales is not a dirty word

The stereotypical image of a used-car salesman is that he is a pushy, arrogant, egotistical deal maker, and a bad dresser, to boot. Good sales experts are just the opposite of this clumsy, thoughtless, ugly stereotype. Think of a time when you left a selling interaction and thought to yourself, “That was a really good salesperson.” The positive attributes are universal:

•           They listened

•           Asked good questions

•           Cared about me

•           Gave me options to think about

•           Was interested and genuine

Are these not the traits that we would all like to have and be known for?

Selling is not winning a deal at any cost, it’s being realistic

Selling is about doing what is best for the customer. It is always about creating measurable business results for the client. If you can’t help your clients with their business, you shouldn’t be doing business with them. Be willing to walk away from situations that aren’t right, and when you may not be the right fit for the client be willing to offer a referral to someone who has the expertise you don’t.

Sales success is about building and leveraging your relationships

You know lots of people from many different areas of your life. Consider your community groups, hobbies, volunteer organizations, sports, service providers, family, neighbors, and friends. The list goes on and on. Companies are asking you to leverage these relationships by finding out who these people know, what their network is, and who they might know that would be interested in what your company does.

You’re not asking your contacts to do business with you. You want to know whom they know and how and when they can refer you to opportunities in the market place.  People are actually very delighted to help when they are asked.

Do not look at it as “selling”, look at it as creating opportunities

Several clients tell me they don’t “sell”, and we can’t use the word “sales” in our discussions. I agree! Look at it as creating opportunities for the organization that were not there before and you are accomplishing that by simply talking to people you know about what you do.  Good salespeople are authentic and genuine and when you are sincere, care about your clients, and ask your contacts who they know, you are helping your organization grow.

Are you willing to help your organization grow?