Great sales people are not a mystery, they are just able to commit their time to the right selling activities and best practices that the rest of us do not. They could be rain makers for a pharmaceutical firm or they could be a start up business owner that has to sell his own product or service. Regardless, most sales people are only able to sell 20% of their time because of the non-selling activities that they get involved in. What would your sales look like if the non-selling activities could be delegated and more time could be committed to selling activities? How many sales have you lost because the non-selling activities took up too much time?
Let’s take a look at the three types of selling activities and the specific selling activities that you need to start or improve upon to get the results of a great sales person.
Funnel Filling Activities: These are the activities that are going to fill your sales funnel with a higher qualified volume of potential opportunities. Notice how these are “in-person” selling activities or will lead to other “in-person” selling activities regarding conversations about new business.
- Attending networking events relevant to your potential clients and referral partners interests.
- Sponsoring seminars and speaking engagements that attract potential clients and referral partners.
- Setting appointments with potential clients that meet your ideal client profile regarding their needs.
- Setting appointments with referral partners to help target opportunities to work together.
- Meeting with current clients to further understand their business and where you can add value.
- Always helping others grow their networks or improving their business when you have the ability and time to do so.
Funnel Accelerating Activities: These are the activities that are going to move your potential opportunities through your sales funnel to become a client and remain a client. Notice how all of these are meant to move potential clients to a next step.
- Understanding who your potential client really is, what they really want, and how they buy.
- Presenting as a team with your technical expert to qualified potential clients.
- Providing your potential client with two closing options.
- Overcoming objections and put-offs that arise unexpectedly.
- Giving your potential client all of the information they need regarding integration and delivery.
- Making sure that everyone in the organization understands the potential client’s expectations and what their role will be in the integration and delivery phase.
Focusing Activities: These are the activities that will improve yourself and help you keep your time and energy focused on the Funnel filling and funnel accelerating activities listed above.
- Making sure you have a plan for what you are attending, who you are meeting with, and who you are talking to about new business for next week before you leave this week.
- Making sure all of relevant customer information is updated in your CRM where others can find it when they need it.
- Delegating non-selling activities to the proper support people so you can stay focused on the selling activities.
- Taking time to grow your knowledge about business success and industry innovations.
- Taking time to grow your skills, capabilities, and belief in yourself.
- Unplug once in a while to focus on your personal life.
Notice how nothing has been said about Process and Systems. That is because I am assuming that you have defined processes and systems in place for you, your sales people, and your support functions to focus on the right activities for the duties assigned. Considering that every minute you spend in the non-selling activities is a potential lost opportunity or even potential lost revenue, how much more do you have to lose before you start to integrate some of the right selling activities into your daily and weekly routine?
Please feel free to contact me if you need help on where and how to integrate any of these activities to help you become a great sales person.
In a recent seminar about “Building a Sales Management Function” that I was honored to facilitate, we talked about what metrics matter to an organization that wants to be forward thinking and use leading indicators instead of the traditional “Postmortem” metrics that most companies use. Looking backwards is fine if you are alright with using your rear view mirror to drive forwards, but companies that are focused on sales growth should be using a different set of Metrics. These seven metrics are both useful for production and for a sales management function to identify coaching opportunities for better sales performance.
These seven sales metrics are key to effective sales management for organizations focused on growth:
1. #of Face-to-face meetings with “new qualified targets” (not prospects or leads) regarding new opportunities
2. # of two-way phone or email conversations with “new qualified targets” regarding new opportunities
3. # of Face-to face meetings with existing clients regarding new opportunities
4. # of two-way phone or email conversations with existing clients regarding new opportunities
5. Amount of new opportunities added to their sales funnel
6. The # of actions that moved existing opportunities through their sales funnel
7. The amount of new business that closed from their sales funnel
These seven sales metrics will help identify how effective a sales rep is at both finding new business (volume) and moving business through the sales funnel (velocity). These seven sales metrics will also provide your sales management function with the information and business intelligence they need to coach your sales rep for better performance once you bench-mark them.
What questions would you ask as a sales manager to coach your sales reps once you have bench-marked these sales metrics?
1. How can we increase the average value of the new opportunities you find in new clients and existing clients?
2. How could we decrease the length of sale from 6 months to four months?
3. How can we increase the amount of opportunities in existing clients?
4. What else do you need to help add volume to your sales funnel?
5. What are the objections you are getting from clients and how are you navigating them?
6. What do you need to do differently next week to get better results?
7. How can I help?
You cannot manage want you do not measure and what you measure gets done, so what are you measuring and what else do you need to start measuring? A good sales management function will help their sales reps put money in their pockets so everyone is happy. I guarantee your sales reps want to know the measuring stick and know that someone wants to help them.
Please feel free to contact me if you need help identifying what sales metrics makes sense for you to measure for growing sales and how you can start using them to improve your sales performance.
How many times have you wanted your sales teams to just make more calls thinking that is the best way to increasing sales? Organizations that fail to deliver real-time intelligence to their sales team fail to maximize their efforts and hence get hung up on “making more calls” as the solution.
While most sales managers and owners love reports that measure their sales team’s activities in order to forecast sales, they may be missing opportunities by not focusing on reports that provide necessary information that would allow them to create a better strategy to begin with. Their current strategies and tactics are based upon dated information that could be months old and hence are often useless to make a difference quickly.
So if what gets measured gets managed, what information should you be measuring and delivering real-time to your sales team to be more agile in the field to increase sales?
- Sales of customers by demographic segments
- Profitability of customers by demographic segments
- Sources of new leads by demographic segments
- Dollars in each stage of the funnel
- Conversion rates for each stage of the funnel
- Average value of each opportunity in each stage of the funnel
- Achievement % to budgeted sales and profitability
- Market share % and industry trends
- Distribution by product line and products by demographic segments
- Customer attrition rates
- Customer satisfaction rates
- Production forecasts
- Delivery and project completion progress
Now more than ever, sales managers need to provide their teams with more timely insight and detailed sales analytics that can deliver a competitive advantage to their sales team, allow better forecasting by the sales manager, and increase sales for the company much faster than they would be able to if they were only tracking activities.
Many business owners that have to sell their products and services and the people that are tasked with selling for them have never considered themselves as sales people. I have heard it many times, “I am not a sales person and I am not comfortable with selling”. It’s not your fault and you can blame it on your parents.
What did your parents tell you while you were growing up?
- Don’t talk to strangers
- Don’t bother that important person
- That person doesn’t care about what we do
- It’s not polite to talk about money
What do you have to do in sales?
- Talk to strangers
- Bother the important people
- Talk to people that should care about what you do
- Talk about money
It is time to get over the notion that you are not a salesperson. Sales is nothing more than having a passion for what you represent and being able to transfer that enthusiasm to others, like potential customers. If you believe in what you represent, just talk to people about it and make sure they are the right people or are people that know others that can benefit from what you represent.
Be sure the people you talk to are strangers, be sure they are important, be sure they are the person that you can provide value to and the person that can make sure you get paid.
“You are the CEO of your territory so you should act like one.” I was told this all the time during my years of selling and leading sales teams in various industries. I have since passed this advice on to every sales person and sales team that I have worked with since I started my practice.
More than any other position in the company, sales has a tremendous amount of autonomy and like a CEO, this freedom gives the sales people an infinite amount of latitude in how they are going to achieve their goals. Sales performance is based on success like that of a CEO and therefore the best sales people should approach sales like they are a CEO.
What should sales people and CEO’s have in common?
They leverage others to help – they don’t try to do it all themselves. Great sales people know how to leverage the entire organization. Good and average sales people try to do it all themselves.
They show leadership – without leadership it’s impossible to gain the support of the organization, to build support teams, to rally the client, and get those teams you need behind you.
They have problem solving skills – problem solving is one of the greatest, unmeasured skills today. Great CEO’s solve problems. Great sales people solve problems for their company and their clients. They have an uncanny knack for understanding how to get around hurdles, address challenges and accomplish what others can not.
They have Business Acumen- It goes without saying that CEO’s have great business acumen and unfortunately, most sales people do not. Sales people should embrace business knowledge and grow their understanding of complex and simple business concepts.
They take Risks – by definition, CEO’s take measured, calculated risks. They understand that nothing is guaranteed and growth comes from expansion. Selling is no different and the best sales people take risks. They understand the next big sale does not come from doing what everyone else is doing.
They have a Vision – Like CEO’s the best sales people have a vision and they see the forest through the trees. They can see where the industry is going and see where their clients “need” to go. They know when a product is going to loose its edge 12 months in advance and use that to their advantage.
They are committed to personal development – CEO’s become CEO’s because they are constantly striving to get better, embrace personal development, and are always growing their skills. The best sales people are constantly evaluating their skills and should always strive to get better. They know what they are great at and what they need to get better at. They leverage their strengths and surround themselves with those who are great at what they are not.
I am a huge fan sales people and during my 25 plus years of sales leadership, I have watched sales people that have these traits succeed farther than myself and I have watched sales people fail because they were unable to change the way they conducted themselves in business and embrace these ideas. If you can embrace and integrate the characteristics of a CEO, then you can be great in sales.
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.
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.