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10 Reasons your sales effort is complacent

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

  1. You do not have regular sales meetings.
  2. A member of your team quit and you have no CRM to access account information.
  3. You spend less than 60% of your time with customers.
  4. 20% of your selling efforts accounts for 80% of your sales.
  5. You recently lost sales because you did nothing.
  6. Your sales cycle is longer than last year.
  7. Your customers are buying less.
  8. Less than 25% of your sales come from new customers.
  9. You have seen less than 4 customers and prospects in the last week.
  10. You do not subscribe to any sales blogs or read any books on new ways of doing things.

If more than 3 of these reflect your organization’s selling function, you may want to consider making some changes to your selling processes, changes to your structure, changes to your compensation plan, and investing in some training.

Why can’t I close sales faster?

With sales cycles getting longer, understanding the problems you are faced with will help you change the way you sell for faster sales.

1.  Your sales process is not aligned with your prospect’s buying process.   Most companies design their sales process on how they sell to the market without regard to how the market buys from them.  If you start to think as a buyer, you would be able to identify potential obstacles earlier in the sale and develop solutions around them.

2.  You do not follow your process.  When you do not follow all of the steps when building a model or replacing your brake pads?  What if pilots and surgeons ignored their processes and checklists?  Experts say that it takes 10,000 hours to master your profession, so until then you should probably follow the steps.

3.  You have not created a sense of urgency by discussing “risk” with the buyer.  The best question you can ask if you feel an objection to your solution: “What is the cost of not doing this?”  If you can you’re your prospect that the rewards outweigh the risks, you will help them say “yes” faster.

What steps should you take to correct these problems?

1.  Define how your customer buys.  If you ask “What would you like to see from me to help you make your decision”, you will save a lot of time trying to figure out what they want.

2.  Have a goal for each and every sales call.   When you understand all of the stages a prospect goes through in their buying process, you can identify milestones that need to be met for the prospect to reach the next stage.  What needs to happen in your next call or meeting to make that happen to keep the sale moving?

3.  Talk about rewards with your prospects. Companies are always concerned with committing funds to something that is not necessarily tangible.  Help your prospect understand the opportunity costs of not saying “yes”.

By aligning the way you sell to the way your prospects buy, following a repeatable process, and helping the prospect see the rewards of saying yes, you will close sales faster.

6 Questions to Help Move the Chains

In how many sales meetings this week is the owner looking at the sales funnel and scratching their head about the lack of movement of opportunities from one stage to the next?  There seem to be plenty of opportunities and potential clients out there so what is the problem?

I guarantee it is a lack of proper qualification of the opportunity to begin with.  The sales funnel needs to be cleaned up and by asking some basic sales leadership questions, you can help coach your team to identify the true opportunities to potentially “move the chains” and take them to the next level.

  • Who is the potential client?
  • What do they actually need and want?
  • How do they make decisions?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • What other options does the potential client have?
  • What is a clear next step that we need to do now to move this forward?

Many sales people can’t say “no” to potential opportunities and clients even though they are not ideal prospects.  This causes their sales funnel becomes full of opportunities that get stuck at the proposal phase because they have no clue what to actually offer to them.

If you are looking at the sales funnel and can’t understand why the actually sales are not happening, try drilling down deeper into each opportunity with these questions to coach your team to move their chains.

If you need help integrating some of the best practices to help coach your sales team, please contact us to schedule a SWOT analysis of your sales structure, sales process, and sales skills

How leading indicators can help keep your eyes on the prize

During my spare time while traveling for a project with a major Midwest manufacturer, I decided to summarize a take away I had from reading “The Four Disciplines of Execution”.1 The book is very relevant for any of us who have started major initiatives in our organizations only to watch them be stifled by competing priorities or as I call it, “the tyranny of the urgent”. These are daily need-to-do activities and organizational fire fighting that makes us wonder what we actually accomplished and did all day.

After an organization determines a relevant business goal they want to achieve and target date for completion, they traditionally measure their progress through what the book calls “Lagging Indicators”.  These lagging Indicators are reflective of the goals that we traditionally set quarterly or annually such as:

  • Increase sales from $500K to $625K by 2015.
  • Increase the number of dealers from 10 to 15 by 2013.
  • Reduce cost of sales by 10% by Q3.
  • Increase average selling price per transaction by 5% by March
  • Increase our market share by 10% by 2014.

Sound familiar?  If achieved, any of these are all good indicators of success, but when does and organization traditionally look at the results? Most of them only look at their progress a few days before the target completion date.  This can produce only one of two possible results: a sense of jubilation and desire to celebrate, or a instantaneous increase in your pucker factor that now has you worrying about your year, your career, and the future of your organization.  Using these lagging indicators to measure success at the end of a target date is about as useful as looking in your vehicles rear view mirror to navigate in a forward direction.

What if you could measure your progress along the entire way toward your target date?
What if you were able to change your game plan at half time instead of the two-minute warning?  What if everyone in the company knew could measure results on a weekly basis?
What do you have to start measuring to be able to do that?

The book introduces the development and use of “Leading Indicators”.  Leading indicators measure the achievement of specific activities and activity levels that are necessary for you to achieve your goal.  These can be as simple as:

  • Meet with 10 new qualified targets per week.
  • Present to 4 qualified prospects per week.
  • Up sell 10 clients per week.
  • Mail 100 new information packets to targets per month..
  • Complete 3 field assessments per month.
  • Participate in 2 trade shows per quarter

All of these leading indicators can be reverse engineered from looking at your past successes and determining what activities helped you get there.  For example, if your goal (lag indicator) is to sell $100K of materials in 10 months to new clients, your average client is worth $10K, 50% of the prospects let you send them a quote, and you closing ratio is 10%, then you will have to talk to 200 prospects and propose to 100 of them to reach your goals.  Breaking down these activities into leading indicators determines that you need to talk to 20 new prospects and propose to 10 of them every month or even talk to five prospects a week and propose to 2.5 of them on average. Your goal of $100K in new revenue in 10 months does not seem all that hard to achieve know what you have to do each week in the midst of the tyranny of the urgent.

The last words of advice from the book are to develop and maintain a public score card that helps everyone in the organization understand how they are meeting their leading indicators and progressing towards their goals on a weekly/monthly basis.  Read here to understand the benefits of keeping score properly to drive accountability in your organization or contact SalesTechnik  should you like help developing relevant leading indicators to help you achieve your goals.

1. The Four Disciplines of Execution: McChesney, Covey, and Huling, Free Press 2012
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How to Get a Faster ROI from Your New Sales Person

You just started a new sales person after your last sales person walked out the door only after 6 months.  You ordered new business cards, set up an email address, put together some sales figures, printed a customer list, and gave them a stack of brochures.  They should be set to go, right?  This is the most common scenario for any company that has a high turnover in their sales teams.  In fact, it was the way I was on-boarded as several companies earlier in my career.

Most companies do not have the proper systems and processes in place for on-boarding new sales people and without them, the sales person is set up for failure from the beginning. What does it take to set the new sales person up for success?  I call it the 4-P’s and it is everything that should be given to a new sales person to hit the streets faster and produce an ROI for your company.

Position: How thorough is the job description?  Have all of the expectations been communicated? Are their support people in place? Have goals been set?  Does the sales person understand what their role is in the achievement of those goals?  Without a clear understanding of the sales position, the opportunity for misunderstanding of role and expectations can lead to frustration and lack of results.

Products: Has the new sales person been trained on your product or service and fully understand the value it can deliver to your customers?  Do they know the pricing?  Do they know your entire portfolio? Do you have technical expertise that can support the sales person? Are your marketing materials current?  The failure to properly train and even cross train your new sales person will destroy your credibility with customers.

People:  Who are the people that you want to deliver your product and service to? Do you know what an ideal customer looks like? Do your marketing materials speak to your target market?  Do you know your competition?  Do you know your differentiators?  Do you know how your customers buy?  The failure to understand your market will not develop a clear marketing and selling plan to follow.

Processes: What metrics do you have in place to measure success?  Is your CRM in place and the use of it mandated?  Can you document your customer buying process and what roles are responsible for the various stages and touch points?  Do you have support people for order entry, shipping, billing, and servicing so your sales person can stay in front of customers and new opportunities?  The failure to have proper support in place for customers will make your sales person get involved with non-selling activities and you will only get 20% of the selling effort you need.

To get a faster ROI out of your sales person, you need to take away any potential for misunderstanding, not knowing expectations, ruining you credibility, and not being able to measure success.  For help developing your 4-P’s, please contact us at SalesTechnik

Grow Your Business by Targeting Ideal Opportunities

Many organizations are unable to grow fast enough because their sales teams spend too much time with opportunities that are wrong for your business.

Have you ever:

  • Thought your weekly sales funnel reviews are the same week after week with no progress?
  • Been tired of hearing phrases such as “They asked me to stay in touch” or “They are still deciding”?
  • Believed your sales efforts are focusing on prospects that you do not want to do business with?

The simple fact is that sales people hate saying “no” because they believe they can every opportunity they find and hence every opportunity they find becomes a prospect of some sort.  This leads to waste of time and efforts on opportunities that will never close, your opportunity funnel becomes clogged with bad prospects, and your business does not grow.  I guarantee these opportunities were never a good opportunities to begin with because you have not identified the characteristics of your good clients and what a good opportunity looks like to your organization for the sales team to call on.

What was done by the salesperson to identify the opportunity as ideal? What questions were asked to qualify the opportunity? Can your organization even identify what an ideal client is and what an ideal opportunity looks like to help your sales team target better opportunities?

If a company is able to define what an ideal client looks like, then the marketing and sales efforts are able to work more efficiently because selling time is only spent on qualified opportunities that match the characteristics of your ideal clients. Additionally, your operations should perform better because you are only doing business with ideal clients that you are meant to be serving.

Should your ideal clients be of a certain size?  Should they have certain annual revenue?  Should they be able to purchase one or more of your products or services?  Should they have a certain structure?  Should they have a certain credit rating? Should they be able to lead you to more business?

By identifying your ideal client characteristics, you will be able to identify what an ideal opportunity looks like and hence your sales team will be able to identify where their time should be spent and become more efficient with closing more ideal clients to grow your business faster.

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.

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.