Increase sales!! I have heard this cry over and over again in commercial management, we want to increase sales, increase revenue, deliver increasing value to owners, of course we do that’s why we exist. If only it was as simple as turning a dial from medium to high. But let’s be realistic, we need to look at the real reasons as to why so few sales teams deliver their target. Yes it can certainly be that management sets totally unrealistic targets, which presents all kinds of issues, from unethical behavior to frustration and high staff turnover. The answer is very rarely do more of the same, increasing the sales team by 20% doesn’t often deliver even a growth of 20%. We as leaders need to be much smarter in the way we look at this, and yes data is definitely our friend.
Top 4 Sales Challenges
#1 Lack of sales process
#2 Low sales person productivity
#3 Lack of visibility
#4 Weak pipeline feeding revenue
FIRST LET’S COVER SOME THRID PARTY DATA ON THE CURRENT STATE OF SALES:
- 33% of a Salesperson’s time is actually spent selling. – CSO Insights
• The average company spends $10K – $15K hiring an individual and only $2K a year in sales training. – The Bridge Group
• Only 57% of reps said they are equipped with strategies, tools and skills to exceed their numbers. – Harvard Business Review • 67% of all Salespeople do not attain individual quota. – Altify
So, that’s the bad stuff. That even with the excess of technology, enablement and sophistication, Sales is still not winning. What’s the good stuff? Well it’s all very fixable, you can build a revenue generating sales funnel that fully supports your business plan. Invest the time to do this right and your will see a significant increase in revenue – guaranteed!!!
#1 Lack of Sales Process
Sales process – it isn’t an art form – at least 80% of the “process” is repeatable and documentable. If you don’t document the process, best practice, and tell your sales team to follow these “best practices” they will reinvent the wheel each time, at best skipping vital steps, at worst selling products you don’t have just get an order. This isn’t helped by management setting un-realistic targets, and worse still typing variable compensation to these unrealistic targets. Hitting them is a crap shoot and if management doesn’t understand the “how” of the sales process.
The key to this is understanding how 80% of your orders flow, from initial enquiry through to responding, needs analysis, pricing, quoting, answering common objections, closing and delivering. I guarantee as much as you think or it seems every sale is unique, it isn’t. Once you understand this and document it you can communicate it to the entire organization, making sure each area understands their own and everyone else’s role.
Bite the bullet on this one, trust me, it’s the key to the good stuff!!
#2 Low Sales Person Productivity
I would like to split this one in two if I may. I will call the components INTERNAL and EXTERNAL……that is internal to the Sales force and internal to the sales force. Both aspects are internal to your organization……so please don’t get mixed up, we are not looking outside our company at all. We cannot control external elements – don’t try it’s folly.
First of all, the external, using the information gathered from the process mapping exercise in #1 – look at all the activities that the sales team is doing that is not directly selling. Figure out why they are doing them, make this an inclusive process. Ask these kind of questions…..
Is there a gap in your organization?
Do they just like doing it?
Are they creating what doesn’t exist?
Are they leading marketing?
Are they bogged down with service?
Are they acting as Inside Sales?
Fix as much of this as possible, provide the best practice sales collateral, fix the service/reliability issues that are chewing up time. Once you have started this process – write up or refresh sales person job descriptions. Provide coaching to the sales force and their support areas, make it clear what is expected and help them to achieve it.
Now for the INTERNAL……
A: Track sales activities
Use sales enablement software to capture sales rep activities such as emails sent to buyers, meetings scheduled, office and cell phone calls made, sales presentations or content shared, and more. Every activity is tracked and automatically recorded in CRM. The clear data visualization within the sales enablement platform lets sales managers tell at a glance which reps are most productive and which are falling behind.
B: Address bad selling habits
Instead of waiting until the end of year to try to guess why a sales rep didn’t meet quota, you can use big data analytics to identify the activities that correlate to quota attainment in real time. Because you’re tracking the sales rep’s activities down to the exact number of phone calls made or emails sent each day, coaching goes from guesswork to data-driven, practical application.
C: Incentivize good selling habits
Coaching through actionable, real-time sales metrics is an excellent first step toward improving sales rep performance, but you can increase sales productivity even further through gamification. In other words once you have identified those activities that really sell, organize into a visible program and set up competition amongst peers.
You can use a real-time sales leaderboard to compare how many good selling activities each rep is achieving. By making this data visible to everyone, you’ll motivate each rep to try to beat the other sales team members by doing more selling.
Remember from one of my earlier blog posts……manage stuff and lead people. Most sales people hate CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software….why? Cutting out all the bullshit reasons it comes down to this, sales people don’t like to be “managed”, after all it’s an art form right? Did Van Gogh have someone measuring him? Or Da Vinci have a project manager on the Sistine Chapel? Sales people do things their way, I agree in part, the personal relationship and their own style of communicating is an important part. But given that only 33% of their time is spent selling, I am sure that this nebulous term could be boiled down further still for more insight. So what are they doing with the rest of their time? the answer is usually getting involved in everyone else’s job.
#3 Lack of visibility
This is completely fixed with CRM system – give everyone access to the system. If you don’t have a system – get one – implementation will be at least 8 weeks out, while you work on #1 and #2. Now here is the kicker, at least 80% of companies I have worked with, that have CRM do not use it fully. You will not get results with half assed implementation and sporadic use. One GM I worked with had a motto “IF IT ISN’T IN CRM IT DIDN’T HAPPEN” That’s the only way to do it, develop the discipline to record every single customer interaction within the system. Put gates into your other business processes to ensure that information is entered 100%.
Decide on terminology and stick to it, what is an opportunity, a lead, an enquiry? Decide how you will consistently report probability throughout the process. Where you can, eliminate subjectivity in forecasting, tie it to pipeline stage if necessary.
Make the pipeline stage match your sales process, so you can slice and dice the information to generate accurate reports. Use the data to generate reports and forecasts – do not allow forecasting outside of CRM – the system becomes a real time, on demand, forecast tool.
#4 Weak Pipeline Feeding Revenue
We are all aware of the sales funnel I am sure, depending on your product, market and competition you will need a certain amount of incoming enquires to flow through to orders. By working through items #1 to #3 above you will now have a great insight into where your best opportunities come from. The ones most likely to close and the sales cycle, the average time from enquiry to order, and the steps involved.
Be a total hard ass in evaluating your pipeline data, set rules to get rid of Pipe Dreams. For example……
If there has been no activity on an opportunity for 30 days – Kill It!!
If a quote is over 90 days old –Kill it!!
You may remember the ABC from Glengarry Glen Ross “Always Be Closing” in the context of CRM data it means “Always Be Cleaning”.
Once you have a realistic view of your pipeline, now you can start to fix it, do you need inbound marketing? Better sales tools, is your pricing whacked? Are you wasting time on “dead dog” opportunities? Where is the good stuff?
Work on these issues NOW and I promise that 12 months from now you will see a huge difference…….
I can help as consultant and change agent for these items, with several CRM implementations and numerous sales process mapping exercises behind me, I can help your business grow.
Dallas, Texas E: firstname.lastname@example.org