Month: September 2015

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Sales Pipeline or Sales Plug Hole?

Sales Pipeline or Sales Plug Hole?

10 Ways to Get the Most From Your Sales Pipeline

Sales Pipeline Abuse!

Let start off by explaining what a sales pipeline is, it is:

Your pay check for the next 12 months and beyond.

The difference between you going on holiday or having to explain to the family why it’s another staycation.

Choices and options –  do you spend your birthday in NYC or Rotherham…

You see where I’m going with this don’t you?

Why?

Do you treat your sales pipeline so shoddily when it’s so important?

Fill it full of half-baked, second rate, tyre kickers?

So many that the good, healthy, profit generating sales prospects either get lost totally or struggle to get the attention they deserve in order to prosper.

It’s because of this one single thing…

Being busy is more important that being effective…chasing a lead is chasing a lead, whether it’s a waste of time /effort or not…

Disagree with me?

Great…it means you know better.

So, this is NOT about time management, it is about how you manage your sales pipeline.

What is a Sales Pipeline – REALLY?

Some firms will map their sales pipeline so that it matches the buying process of their buyers.

Some firms have their own loosely structured sales pipeline.

So, to generalise between those two extremes, you can think about your sales pipeline as your sales forecast in motion.

The sales pipeline can represent a series of stages in the sales and buying process.

At the top of the sales pipeline the sales prospects are relatively unqualified…the nearer those sales prospects move to the end of the sales process the more details become attached and the higher the level of qualification as the discussions turn from possible sales to discussing prices and potential delivery dates.

You can see how it works.

Some firms will attach very specific qualifying criteria to each stage in the sales pipeline. Other firms are much more fluid around what happens at each stage.

In the former, you’ll see prospects held back in the sales pipeline until the sales person can qualify certain information – it may be around budget, sign off date, understanding/mapping the buyer process, meeting the key decision maker or some other business critical insight

Sales Pipeline – Understand This!

A sales pipeline is a flowing source of information.

It’s organic.

It moves often, maybe daily, maybe several times daily, weekly, monthly, depending on your sales cycle duration, order value and sector.

Either way, the crux is, it moves.

It doesn’t bulge out of control…at every one of the sales stages – there is a chance to decide if you keep that sales prospect in the sales pipeline and progress them to the next stage or if you ditch the prospect or simply take them back to a previous stage in light of new information.

Your sales pipeline directs all your daily activity.

Not enough sales prospects in your sales pipeline due to drop at a certain stage? Better get on with topping up the sales funnel then.

To many sales leads dropping out? Maybe need to tighten up the sales qualification criteria at the start of the sales process.

Sales prospects dropping out due to one factor? Maybe need to look at how expectations are being managed earlier on in the process.

Inaccurate sales forecast? Maybe a tighter sales pipeline with more specific criteria.

Your sales pipeline and the sales forecast it creates is vital to your business…it’s the resource planning, funding, operational blue print, so accuracy, management, maintenance are all vital.

So…

To Get the Best From Your Sales Pipeline:
  1. Refer to your sales pipeline daily to direct you most urgent sales activities, your sales pipeline should direct your day, what do you need to create today? More appointments? More quotes? Are you chasing existing clients today or closing deals? What’s your activity? Your sales pipeline will show you.
  2. Don’t be afraid to push for the information you need at all stages in the sales process…a serious buyer will be happy to answer your questions as best they can….or tell you why they can’t.
  3. Pension sales prospects off if they have stagnated for unexplained reasons i.e. the prospect has stopped returning calls/responding to emails…don’t be a sales stalker.
  4. Understand the difference between being busy and being effective, some business will never be worth chasing.
  5. Allocate your resources carefully to protect yourself and your resources – beware of prospects just wanting a price, or those who are just at the ‘thinking about it stage’ and seem happy to stay there…
  6. Check the next stage in the buyers mind to ensure you’re always on the same journey, together and with the same map…otherwise you’re not partners in the process as you’ve different understanding of the situation
  7. Make sure you’ve done a very thorough fact find and be mindful that facts can change, i.e. another referrer/influencer needs to be convinced, the late entry of a competitor, a change in budget, change of delivery date…keep checking the important questions
  8. Credit check the sales prospects in your sales pipeline…you may check then at the beginning, but you should be checking them periodically though the sales process too…you don’t want to get to order sign off stage and find the prospect lacks credit worthiness.
  9. Be scrupulously honest with yourself when you’re working your sales pipeline…don’t delude yourself…if things in your sales pipeline look shaky then the sooner you take remedial action, let someone know and get additional support, the greater your chances of success…head in the sand is not a good tactic for remaining successful in sales…
  10. Neither is relying on blind luck…the great thing about an active sales forecast is it lets you work out what your very own sales recipe is. How many cold calls:meetings:quotes:orders do you need to hit your target? Once you know this you know everything you need to know to optimise your sales earnings…learn what this recipe/formula is for you ASAP and work on the leaks continually…
The truth is – your sales pipeline is either a major asset or a wasted money making opportunity…which is it?

Also, consider this, rejecting or ejecting unworthy sales prospects early on saves a mountain of time, money, resource…because dragging an unwilling and unqualified prospect through to the sales close at which point they reject your proposal is dangerous and it’s a money pit with no end in sight…actual costs plus opportunity costs all start to mount up.

Be diligent about the sales leads you progress early on. It may cost thousands to get a sales prospect to the end of the sales process, if the chances of conversion are low, ensure you qualify hard at the start of the sales process.

Look out for a new blog on sales conversion rates tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are a selection of free guides to help you create a robust sales pipeline. They’ll  help you create a profit generating sales funnel – free instant download – just hit the link.

How to Generate High Quality, High Converting Telephone Sales Appointments

Only Dead Fish Go With the Flow

10 Steps to Out Sell the Competition

20 Ways to Price Like a Pro! – Creating Hungry Sales Prospects

Just hit the links above and the reports are available for instant download

Happy Selling

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

p.s. For free weekly insights into what’s new in sales, business development and profit creation – sign up to the Advanced Business Achiever – it’s free.

Looking for an online sales training course you can use internally to build you very own sales pipeline? Check out TurboCharged Sales 

Sales Funnel: How To Fill It With High Quality Sales Prospects…Free Download

Sales Funnel: How To Fill It With High Quality Sales Prospects…Free Download

Filling the Sales Funnel? That’s someone else’s job right?

Sales Funnel Truth.

Experienced sales people and sales leaders know lots of things about sales and how to sell.

But they forget stuff too…we all do.

And you and I get rusty at the things we don’t do regularly, so if you’re in sales then listen up.

Regardless of what other great sales skills you have, and however high up the sales hierarchy you are, one skill should be continually practised and developed.

It’s the skill and ability to fill your sales funnel with well qualified, high quality sales opportunities.

This one of their most important sales skills in the whole sales tool kit

Really? Knowing how to fill the Sales Funnel is that important?

It is!

Absolutely and without question.

Nothing happens until a well qualified, choice prospect is identified with, and the preliminary qualification is undertaken.

Nothing. Not one thing.

Great closers have nothing to close. Account managers have nothing to manage and relationship builders can sit around twiddling their thumbs.

Without the new business executive, the lead generator, the appointment setter the whole sales world stands stock still waiting for something to happen…the email to ping, the phone to ring…

But who really wants to wait…couldn’t it be better to go out there and make it happen?

Whenever you want?

Like today maybe?

I think so, don’t you?

Doesn’t that seem kind of simple?

Of course it does…and that’s what fazes some sales people.

It is simple…much more simple than complex and costly marketing campaigns with the huge risks.

But forget all of that, because here’s the most important thing about new business generation and feeding the sales pipeline.

You can test out a different position every call, you can try different sectors, different job tittles, different geographies, different products, different everything with minimal risk and as a by product of all this you learn almost everything there is to know about your target prospect in your target market.

You get wise!

So your success rate soars!

That’s worth a lot in sales.

You know what it also takes? Hard work, perseverance, wit, tenacity, charm, intellect and ambition. Added to a great customer orientated mindset, a genuine desire to help prospects solve their problems, excellent communication skills and a will of iron.

Now you can see why lazy sales people a: don’t like doing it, and b: are so bad at it.

It’s a special skill.

A valuable skill.

A life skill if you’re serious about a career in sales.

Building a Great Sales Pipeline

This skill, in my view, is the difference between the sales Super Star, mediocre sales pretenders and ex-sales people.

Knowing how to  set about filling the sales funnel, to get the sales pipeline activated and to start the very, very important relationship building, well, the last two activities mean nothing if you’ve nothing in or to put in to your sales funnel.

Being a great sales prospector, a door-opener, a business developer, a lead generator, an appointment setting…whatever you want to call this function, it’s vital at whatever stage of your sales career you’re at.

Plus: being a master of this sales funnel filling skill means that you do have total and complete control over your earning potential.

As a great sales prospector with the ability to create a sales funnel from thin air, you’ll be very highly valued in the sales industry.

And even better, you’ll never have to rely on anyone in sales support ever again, you can use you in-house business developers as the guys that top-up your diary and your sales funnel, not the guys that have to fill it from start to finish…that way disaster lies.

And, if you needed any more proof, then let it be this.

The quality of sales leads that you’ll get as a result of your own new business skill, your own nurturing and development will (typically) outweigh the value of leads in your sales funnel that either come in from marketing or via the inside sales team.

And, don’t even get me started on the value of prospects and relationships you’ll create simply by being good and quick, timely and efficient, proactive and professional, dynamic and engaging in this one very specific and very important area of sales.

Which ever way you look at it…being in charge of creating and boosting your own sales funnel and sales pipeline is the key to earning whatever you want, when you want.

Filling the Sales Funnel and Sales Diary with High Quality Sales Appointments
Generate High Quality Sales Leads and Sales Appointments – Filling the Sales Funnel

Free Guide: To help you improve the quality and quality of opportunities in your Sales Pipeline

Download your free guide on how to generate high quality, well qualified sales appointments now.

It’s your’s…totally free.

And if you only read one thing today, make it this guide…It’s your guide to filling your sales funnel quickly, efficiently, with high quality sales opportunities….hit the link for a free and instant download How to Generate High Quality Sales Opportunities

Make sure you download this free guide today – it’s practical, direct and written for you if you want to increase the number of quotes you generate, fill the gaps in a half-empty sales diary and generally boost your sales funnel with fresh leads ready to progress though your sales pipeline.

It’s your immediate inside into getting a diary choc full of high quality, well qualified, interesting and curious sales prospects…and we all know what that means…quotes, a fuller sales pipeline and a sales target that will never ever keep you awake again.

Your sales funnel and what’s in it, is your highway to sales success.

Create the perfect sales opportunities by carefully selecting the most choicest of targets in your market. research and qualify and get to your critical prospect mass as soon as you can. After that your sales target won’t keep you awake again…ever.

Plus, continually refreshing your sales funnel means you’ll always have red hot prospects ready to convert. Your sales pipeline will have a reached the point of an unstoppable critical mass.

There’s more…

If you want to fast track your sales funnel growth and effectively manage your sales pipeline so you get all the sales you want, when you want them, then just hit the link – I want to SKY ROCKET my sales results…you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s the link. Register for free sales and business development insights. Delivered straight to your inbox every week Advanced Business Achiever.

For further free guides – check out www.mortonkyle.com

And to subscribe to the Sales Improvement Blog – just hit the link

Happy Selling

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

Sales Audits: Uncovering Untapped Sales Opportunities

Sales Audits: Uncovering Untapped Sales Opportunities

Why Conduct Sales Audits?

Sales Audits are vital if you’re serious about continuous sales improvement.

The truth is – sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know!

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s mastering a new sport. Developing a new skill or just trying out a new Jamie Oliver dish for the first time.

We miss things.

You and I will give much greater importance to some things and negate the relevance of others. Sometimes to our cost.

Eventually we get where we need to be, and hopefully, we’ll have enjoyed the process and all our inexperience will have cost us is a bit of time, maybe a few bruises in the pursuit of a new sport and hopefully no dodgy tummy when cooking plans went awry.

It’s all part of learning, and it makes life interesting.

But what happens when you need to solve a business problem.

And the clock is ticking.

Money is running out, or at least the money isn’t coming in as fast as it should.

What do you do?

Would you enjoy the process of solving that problem as much?

Would you enjoy the detours the challenges gave you?

I didn’t think so.

So it makes sense to make the problem solving process as smooth, effective, efficient and productive as possible.

Why a Sales Audit?

Here’s two examples to show you why Sales Audits are so valuable.

These examples are specific to failing divisions/firms. Beware, Sales Audits should also be used in profitable firms to ensure nothing is lurking in the background and to further ensure that all profit and sales generation opportunities are retained.

Sales Audits are crucial in showing that uncovering the REAL problem. Scoping the impact of the REAL problem can save you time, money and stress, lots of time money and stress.

Sales Audits – Example 1:

Client was looking at the new business team in a buoyant and expansive market and seeing a long term sales plateau starting to take a sharp downward slide.

Their options:

  • Invest in training
  • Start performance management
  • Increase coaching
  • Talk to customers
  • Enhance/change the product
  • Fire the sales manager
  • Up the marketing spend
  • Fire the sales team
  • Ditch the market and concentrate in another vertical

Or, any or all of the above…what’s the solution?

On further exploration, the Sales Audit took me 4 days, I discovered the cause of the sales drop was a change in strategy. A change that had been employed about 18 months ago in the business.

Quite simply, the Sales Audit showed that 18 months ago the business has eschewed all manner of account management and moved their whole focus into new business development, which mean that the business had just one person to account manage per 400 customers.

So, in a nut shell, bigger focus on new business development caused sales to plateau then drop through the floor?

Absolutely.

It turns out, the real problem was nothing to do with the new business development, the team, the function, the price, the product, the market, the business or the vertical.

The Sales Audit Uncovered the Real Problem.

That real problem had everything to do with the vibe that was now going around in their vertical market that said ”this company is great at the up front sell, BUT, once you’ve signed, you’ll never hear from them again, and, heaven forbid if you do have a problem, it’ll take you months to get a response, if you are lucky enough to get a response that is”

By diverting extra resources back to the account management team. By ensuring a strong and immediate account management and customer retention strategy, the new business team started to see an immediate lift in their sales conversion.

4 days and 1 Sales Audit saved that company in that vertical market.

Sales Audits – Example 2.

Division failing badly, average order price just covering costs but conversion rate running at 1:25. The division was being propped up by other more profitable trading divisions by things were getting worse not better as time went on.

Again – large potential market, highly competitive but very buoyant, no where near saturation.

But 1:25 conversion from meeting to order was killing the business.

Lots of opportunities to improve and all pointed to firing the sales team and starting again.

Many solutions also pointed to cancelling the external sales function and relying simply on a telesales team.

Either way something had to change.

A three day Sales Audit came to several crucial conclusions:
  • Competitors we making the same mistakes as this company…so it really was a race to the bottom.
  • The division wasn’t selling what the prospects needed…although they could have
  • The division wasn’t selling what they thought they were selling…no-one had unpacked the benefits
  • The average order value of the competitor that was succeeding and doing very well was 7x that of the division in trouble
  • It was a very crowded market of failing ‘me-too’ competitors
  • Every competitor was trying to serve every vertical
  • Every competitor was doing a ‘hit and run’ sale

Knowing all of this and employing some highly practical solutions mean that neither the product nor the routes to market changed, instead by changing the vertical, extending the sales presentation by 1 stage that happened post sign up, and by employing a higher level and more robust ROI demonstration during the sales process, we got the sales results we needed.

.All resulted in a 3x increase in average order value and a 1:3 close rate instead of a 1:25.

Summary: Sales Audits

And there are plenty more examples of how an intensive Sales Audit can dramatically change the fortunes of a sales division…but you see, the most crucial  point is, sometimes the most obvious solution to a problem is the correct solution, but not always.

For example – had we dismissed the Sales Audit all together and taken some or any of the actions outlined in the first case study above, the client’s sales performance in that vertical would have nosedived still further, even faster…and still with no clue about how to improve it.

In the second case study…simply training the sales staff would have brought about marginal improvements in the short term, would have minimised the growth potential and most definitely would have seen the sales division closed within 6 months.

Solving the immediate problem is one thing.

Identifying the true cause of that sales problem is another.

That’s where a Sales Audit really comes into it’s own, and can prove invaluable in saving time, money and other valuable resources.

Solving the cause of the problem and not the symptoms displayed by the cause of the problem can just do more harm than good. You can send results spiraling out of control, waste precious time and money as well as driving you insane in the process.

When you’re dealing in high risk situations, where the cost of getting it wrong is huge, where you’re against the clock, and money is flowing in the opposite direction to you…shouldn’t you take a deep dive into causes before looking at solutions?

To discuss any aspect of the Sales Audit, just use the contact details below.

Sales Audits can be conducted in as little as 3 days and feedback provided within a further 2 days.

When you’re business isn’t getting the sales results you want, need and deserve, time is of the essence so contact me now.

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

To receive the most up to date Sales and Business Development Insights into your business every week, register for your free copy of the Advanced Business Achiever

 

 

Not Just Sales People – Value Added Problem Solvers

Not Just Sales People – Value Added Problem Solvers

Changing Times

Sales and the art of selling is changing….just like everything else.

New theories, practices and reworked ideas come around again and again.

Some of them stick, some of them fade.

Many work, some don’t.

Some we’ve seen before, maybe under a different name, and some are genuinely original, just check this out regarding B2B sales

One thing that’s been around for ages, but always there in the background, as something that good (and great) business development professionals have know is this.

Sales Is Not About Selling…And It Never Has Been

And that’s even more true today than it’s ever been.

It is not about taking the order, being a walking brochure or even pitching harder than the competitor.

Customers, Buyer, Prospects and Procurement teams have no use for that sort of sales person any more.

The sales person that succeeds today is the sales person that out performs his competitors. Who secures the business. Whot leaves his sales persona at the door and picks up the position of the Buyer’s problem solver.

That means your business development and customer facing target carrying team may need to have a slightly different skill set than you’d imagined.

Instead of thinking about the value of their address book, the length of service in your industry, the length of their business development career, maybe there are additional things to think about.

The Sales Skills Tool Box

Critical thinking skills – their ability to grasp complex situations, issues and constraints and see the Buyer’s issues for what they are and the impact they have on the Buyer

Team building – to build cooperation around creating a suitable solution with the relevant internal and external parties

Problem solving capabilities – the ability to see the real problem and it’s implications as opposed to just seeing the manifestation of that problem

Rapport building – to gain trust quickly and establish expert status with the Buyer and their influencers

Listening skills – genuine listening skills, listening to understand and not listening simply to sell

Communication skills – how good are they are respectfully pushing boundaries in the Buyer’s thinking. How good are they at being able to coherently present ideas, discuss scenarios whilst having all parties keep an open mind

Ability to prioritise – their ability to differentiate between the urgent and important and respond accordingly

Negotiation skills – their ability to compromise and to broker compromise across different parties, different solutions

Resilience – in the face of challenges, objections, resistance, nay-sayers and group think

Creativity – seeing solutions that are not evident to the Buyer. Conveying those solutions with high levels of confidence and credibility

Belief – do they have it, can they convey and transmit their true belief in their solution

The Future of Sales People

Business development might have historically been thought of as a trade that people ‘fall into’.

Ask any 5 year old what they want to be when they grow up and I’ll bet few of them say ‘sales person’.

Sales people can be nurtured to be better business development people, that’s true.

What’s also true is that most great sales people are born with a certain skill set that they invest in to make better.

So, anyone can be a business developer?

I don’t think so.

What do you think?

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

If you’re looking for further support and guidance on how to recruit the best sales talent for your business – check out these two Free Guides:

Beware of the Twins – How to Recruit the Best Business Development Talent in Your Business…and minimise the costly risks associated with recruitment.

Wait! Is your New Business Development Recruit Really That Good – Your Top 10 Check List

And this Blog Post

How to Recruit High Performing Business Development Professionals

 

Problem Solving in Sales Performance and Sales Results Improvement: 3 Easy Steps

Problem Solving in Sales Performance and Sales Results Improvement: 3 Easy Steps

3 Easy Steps to Being a Sales Detective

Sales Performance and Sales Results Matter! Making sure that the key metrics are on point all through the month is key, plus having the skills and insights to reverse any decline and accelerate any upward trends is vital.

But, before that you’ll need to learn how to be a Sales Detective, embrace the fact that your  favourite question will now be ‘WHY?’

That’s the BIG WHY…

  • Sales results aren’t as they should be…
  • Consistent performance is so elusive because sales performance and sales results are is over the place…
  • Why profit is a fluctuating feast or famine.

In a nut shell…we need you to discover the answer to the question every sales leader asks himself on a very regular basis

Why Am I Getting this Level of Sales Performance and Sales Results?

It’s not what you think…the answer, that is. It never is because there’s always more. So much more!

So here’s your 3 step guide to uncovering they you’re getting the sales performance and sales results you are

The 5 Whys

Write your sales performance and sales results problem down and then ask why.

To that response ask another ‘why’

To that response ask ‘why’ a third time

And so on, until there are no more different responses

The truth is, you’ll get two dozen reasons…some of those reasons will be big, some small. Some of those reasons will be part of one bigger reason, some will be stand alone reasons, some reasons will already be known to you and others will be new.

The skill here is just to keep asking ‘why’ until you get to the fundamental and most basic of answers.

For example – why are the sales guys diaries empty?

Your first response could be – lazy sales team

Why? We recruited badly, cheap people, poor commission structure

Why? We’re not making any money, couldn’t afford better people

Why? Competitors are killing us

Why? We’re too expensive

Why? Competing with China

Why? We’ve always done it this way

Why? It’s all that we know

Why…..

Because the empty sales guy’s diaries is only a manifestation of a problem then getting to the root cause is what makes the solution much easier

Cause and Effect 

Get a large blank piece of paper. At the centre of the page write the problem…empty sales guy’s diaries.

Down the middle left hand side write all the possible causes of that.

Down the far left hand side write all the causes of the first line of causes.

And so on and so on…

Down the middle right hand side list all the implications, or consequences of that.

Down the far and side list all the further implications and consequences

What you’ll start to see down the left hand side is some of the common elements that cause the empty sales diaries

What you’ll see down the right hand side is an order of the impact…so you can see if this is a problem that is worth applying your time and intellect to.

For example, if the implications are few, it may be a problem you have to deal with, but perhaps there are bigger problems with more far reaching consequences.

You might come to the conclusion that actually the empty sales diary is the result of poor territory management, data selection and prospect clarity because that’s the REAL cause, rather than just blaming it on the reward and bonus structure.

Sales Performance and Sales Results – Best Practice Gap Analysis

Look at the whole sales process – you should have this mapped out, it should be universal and it should be standard practice across the business. If you want to know why you should have a well documented sales process – check this out – Companies with a Formal Sales Process Generate More Revenue

Look at which of the sales guys perform best in each section of the sales process.

Now look at which of the sales guys perform worst in each section of the sales process.

Now you’ve identified another set of causes or you’ve confirmed the causes you’ve identified above.

Pitfalls of Being a Sales Detective

In your role as Sales Detective, you’ll have to fight the continual urge to solve the problem immediately.

That’s not your primary concern…if you do that, you’ll simply be falling into the same trap that many sales leader do.

The skill is in being able to STOP trying to find the solution long enough to allow you to discover what the REAL problem is.

Once you’ve discovered the REAL problem then you’ll most likely be able to solve the sales problems in a heart beat.

Solutions

So now you have now identified all the key causes and problems that manifest themselves in poor sales performance and sales results.

Now you’ve identified some of the causes then you’re able to evaluate a plethora of suitable solutions because there is never just one simple fix.

Filter through the solutions – apply some creative thinking and beware of some of the pitfalls that will destroy your decision making capabilities 

If you’d like to understand more about the absolute sales performance of your sales and business development function and how to increase sales and reduce wastage in the sales unit – let me know.

The Morton Kyle Sales Audit is an intensive diagnostic and sales improvement tool, because it’s specifically designed to facilitate rapid sales performance and sales results turnaround.

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

For further insights into improving sales performance and sales results because every day lost really does cost you, then download Only Dead Fish Go with the Flow – a report on how to create value in your business

Plus – here’s a blog case study showing how to increase sales conversions and profits – Here’s the link

Your can also download some of our most recent sales improvement reports right here:

How to Generate High Quality Sales Prospects

10 Steps to Out Sell the Competition

How You Can Increase Profits by Avoiding the Commodity Gap

Fill the Diary with High Quality Sales Appointments

How to Recruit the Best Sales Talent into Your Business and Reduce the Costly Risks

Plus for other sales performance and sales results improvement insights – check out the blog – Morton Kyle Sales Improvement

 

 

What’s Your Sales Process Really Costing You?

What’s Your Sales Process Really Costing You?

Your Sales Process – What’s It Really Costing You?

I hate waste. I especially hate waste in the sales process because it just costs so much money and wasted time, talent and resource…and don’t get me started on the opportunity costs.

It’s criminal.

If I tell you the cost of running an inefficient sales process is huge and largely unquantifiable…would you do anything about it?

What if I told you that an efficient sales process can get a sales conversion rate from 1:25 to 1:3 in a matter of weeks?

Or that it can treble your average order value? See here for more information and 3 case studies on how to increase price

Would you do something then?

Maybe you need more proof…

How about if, simply by improving the efficiency of your sales process you could treble the output of your sales team without trebling the costs?

Convinced now?

Well, fortunately, you don’t have to take my word for it – you can check out this article form the Harvard Business Review showing that firms with a formal sales process generate higher revenues – here’s the link ‘Companies with a Formal Business Development Process Generate More Revenue’

So, read on to find out how you can get your business and sales team flying by adopting an efficient and effective sales process…

How Do You Know If You Have an Inefficient Sales Process?

Your business will suffer form the following:

  • Inaccurate sales forecasts
  • Inconsistent close rates
  • Low sales conversion rates
  • Inconsistent sales performance across your sales team
  • Lack of predictability in sales performance
  • Unqualified and aged data can clog up even the best of sales funnels

There are other indicators but these are the main ones you’ll be fighting against every day.

Wasting Sales Resources: Why Does It Happen?

Simple answer, because when people get busy they fall back on autopilot. That means they react.

This impacts on their ability to discern the good from the great and the good from the downright awful when it comes to what leads to engage with and what leads to pan.

So it only happens when sales guys are busy, right?

No, not really.

Conversely, when sales people aren’t busy enough, they’ll chase every prospect on the block, regardless of quality, value, risk or potential to convert.

So, what am I saying, that sales people can’t be trusted to know when to chase a prospect and when to drop?

No.

Well, maybe.

Sometimes.

But forget about the blame and thing about the solution.

The truth is, this is not a black and white area and sales teams are, by definition, semi-autonomous.

Sales people have their head turned by a prospect for lots of reason, and trust me I’be heard them all.

Every single one, from a sales guy fostering clients in a particular part of the UK where his new girlfriend lived (whilst ignoring other profitable clients across other UK regions), to sales guys meeting with small firms with no budget on the basis of promised work to come, and even one sales person who decided to go completely off message and recreate the offer to get more (cheap) prospects.

It happens.

But, after 20 years, I can honestly claim that sales wastage occurs because of a few key factors

  • Poor sales prospect qualification
  • Poorly defined sales prospect identification
  • Questionable sales pipeline management
  • Busy fool syndrome

The great news is…ALL OF THESE ARE SOLVABLE!

So, having identified the causes of sales wastage, let’s look at

Getting Rid of Waste in the Sales Process

Here’s the short answers to minimising waste in your sales process, and it starts with one clear message, look at what you put in your sales funnel and look at how you manage your sales pipeline.

Rubbish Leads In = Rubbish Business Out

So:

  • Have a clear and detailed view of what your perfect prospect looks like, create some real characteristics for this avatar.
  • Set some tough qualifying questions.
  • Look at the go and no-go responses for key buying criteria questions.
  • Don’t be afraid to reject prospects that don’t fit your perfect profiled client…it’s tough to start with but soon you’ll be too busy with your perfect clients to pander to the needs of ‘nearly good enough’ prospects.

To expand:

Look at the risk and the value of the prospect…and set out very early on to be rigorous in the qualification of this prospect in terms of budget, intent, time scales, alternative solutions, other providers, doing nothing, motivation to change, commitment to act, motivational forces, profile of purchase, part in a bigger picture/process.

Ensure the buying process is very clearly defined very early on. Be super aware of deviations from the agreed buying process.

Understand the buying process, the buying criteria and who is involved in the decision to go or not go.

Identify the game changers up front – what could cause the buyer to change their mind, alter their thinking, modify their course of action (and establish how that impacts on you)

Never leave a single interaction without agreeing the next action and where that action sits in the process.

Be conscious of sales timeline creep, simply because are deadlines being missed in the buying process.

Look at the nature of the interaction with the client, moreover is the sales person acting as a free consultancy resource?

Is the buyer responsive, committed, working in partnership or do you still have ‘supplier’ status where you’re chasing the deal?

Of course, a super savvy sales person will be clued up on all of this all the time…or will they.

I think some will, but I think the majority won’t.

If you want to ensure all of the sales team work this way all of the time, then check out this blog post from last week – it will change how you look at making sales and running a sales team.

Plus if you want a further insight into improving sales performance – hit this link

Summary: Minimising Wastage in the Sales Process

Sales wastage will be costing your business a huge and largely unquantifiable sum. So, it’s serious.

So, it deserves your attention.

I’ve seen sales conversion rates go form 1:25 to 1:3 in the matter of weeks using the basics outlined here.

It’s almost like doubling the output of your sales team without doubling the size (and costs) of your sales team.

Efficiency is a state of mind. Busy is also a state of mind, it matters a lot which one your sales team have, because you have to ask: what’s that costing the business?

Watch out in the next few weeks for an insight into what creates a great sales process, the individual building blocks and the points where you’re most likely to lose sales…also, if you think you’ve got the perfect sales process, how you can get to work on checking out those sales metrics and making sure you’re getting optimum results – download your free guide here – 7 Sales Metrics to Measure, Manage and Monitor

If you’ve any questions regarding your sales process get in contact

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

Plus – if you’d like to receive weekly sales and business development hits, tips, strategies and insights to boost sales and sales revenues – check out this – it’s free

Sales Meeting: How Not to Send Prospects to Sleep

Sales Meeting: How Not to Send Prospects to Sleep

Prospect Sales Meeting – Wake Up!

Your prospective buyer is NOT here to entertain and educate you during a sales meeting.

You might wish they were, but they’re just not.

Surprisingly, some sales people haven’t cottoned on to this yet.

That has some disastrous results, like:

  • Prospects runs the sales meeting!
  • Your agenda gets hijacked by the prospect!
  • The prospect ends up no wiser than when the sales meeting started!

The Result?

It’s easy for the prospect to think he doesn’t need your product, your service or (and this is the killer) your expertise

You know what that means?

You’ve just lost the sale….(and the prospect thinks you’re a drip, but nothing I can do about that).

So, if you’re running your prospect sales meetings on auto-pilot, here’s your wake up call…

How to Rock the Sales Meeting…

The prospect needs to enjoy the sales process

And that starts with him enjoying the sales meeting.

Silly as it may see, it’s very true.

Boring meeting – chances of a sales just dipped…a lot.

Keep the prospect engaged, that means making your presentation interesting.

Research done a few years ago said that story telling was the key to this. I panicked like crazy because too many sales people take that statement at face value and wonder why their sales pipeline collapses.

It’s Story Telling…but not as we know it.

You’re stories have to be; short, client focused, results/outcomes orientated, relevant, appropriate and in case you missed it the first time – SHORT.

Those stories should also educate the client…and not just simply showcase how great you are at bragging.

And another thing, shouldn’t have to say it but I will, make sure they are true…it’s an illustration not a fairy tale.

On the subject of fairy tales, make sure you share the learning experiences (stumbles) as well as the out right successes, authentic sharing is better than pie in the sky vision.

Plus, your prospect will probably want to follow up your stories with the other participants…

This article here talks about how your whole sales pitch should be scripted like a story – take a read – I don’t know if I agree, it’s a bit too prescriptive for me, but you might like it. I’ve used parts of this in training and myself and it works very well. Try it.

As with any story – it’s got to stir the emotions – it’s got to take the listener (or in this case prospect) through a process of a changed emotional state – so a sales person who can influence and persuade during the retelling of a story is sure to be a step ahead of the rest of the pack – take a look here to see how to make it work for you.

And if you really love the idea of being able to influence and persuade – check out Robert Cialdini

Blast the Boundaries

Other people might say push the boundaries, but that’s if you want to play it safe. Do you?

I love sales meetings, truly loved them, especially with energetic and ambition business owners and sales leaders…just love it.

Why? They have vision and they can play around with ideas, their minds are open, their thinking fluid and they love the challenge of wondering what if…nothing’s off limits to these guys and I just adore that.

Some prospective clients are more reserved.

So pushing boundaries may not be form them. Or maybe it just means baby steps…

It’s ok to push and challenge the prospects thinking, test out his commitment to his existing ideas, invite him to look at things in another way, show him some alternative perspectives, play the ‘what if’ game.

Of course, you still might come back to a nudge past where he was before, but you’re been a person of value, you’ve stretched his mind, you’ve challenged his believes and you’ve given him food for though…all of which will have made sure he valued your input. As a result the prospect may feel even more committed to his original, possibly revised, solution, either way they’ll have a more rounded view…

Be the Smart Cookie

If you’re not the brightest person in the room…go home and work until you are!

You have to (you must!!)  know more than the buyer about what you offer and how it works in his industry and his sector.

That’s just a fundamental must.

It’s also why sector or vertical sales works better than geographical selling.

If you’re selling in a vertical you’ll get to know the industry, the key players, the sector challenges, the competitors and the alternative solutions inside out and back to front…in which case you’re value to the prospect has just sky-rocketed.

You’ll be, or should be, an expert in your solutions in your buyers sector. Kerrrrching!

Ask the Questioning Questions

By this I mean proper questions…

Lots of sales people ask the questions they ask because it leads them to where they want to be in their sales pitch.

You know the prospect knows what you’re doing, right?

That’s why most sales pitches are boring, unimaginative and unproductive.

It’s ok to go off piste with your questions, chase the rabbit if the prospect comes up with something left of field, ask them to explain, feel free to explore how their mind works, give them a chance to vocalise their thinking…you’ll be helping them and you’ll be helping yourself.

In truth, it’s in sessions like these that you’ll uncover the real decision making process, you’ll gain insight into how the prospect thinks and what his key concerns are as well as helping you understand how he buys, why he buys, and why he should buy from you…what more reason do you need for exploring and deviating from your pre-prepped sales pitch…?

Who knows what you might find out…(that none of your competitors will ever get to know)

And lastly…

Make sure you enjoy it too…sales is hard enough, without doing business with people who son’t  respect or understand the value you bring to the table.

If you’re looking for insight into how to get more out of your prospect sales meeting – pop along here and check out this

Happy Selling

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

If you’d like to receive regular updates and insights, hints and tips and other goodies that will help you boost sales results, increase sales conversions, maximise profits and generally make your sales process as slick and effective as possible – join us here

 

How to Improve Sales Performance: The Friday Sales Rant

How to Improve Sales Performance: The Friday Sales Rant

How to Improve Sales Performance: The Friday Sales Rant!

You’d be surprised what businesses will do to improve sales performance.

You’d be surprised the lengths they’ll go to, the resources they’ll commit and the efforts they’ll expend all in an effort to improve sales performance.

Selling their soul? No…but not far off.

So, why, why, why, why do business owners and sales leaders miss this one simple trick? Continue reading

Sales Performance: A Sales and Business Development System to Deliver Accelerated Sales Growth

Sales Performance: A Sales and Business Development System to Deliver Accelerated Sales Growth

Sales Performance: The Best Sales and Business Development System

Sales and Business Development Functions are worthless if there is no sales and business development system in place which is used throughout the business.

With regard to maximising sales performance, what’s the best sales and business development support system look like?

First of all, let’s think about what your Sales and Business Development System should deliver for you and your business.

We could make this a really complex list and you’d probably go no further than a very complex list, so I’m deliberately going to make my list very simple for you.

Your sales and business development system should deliver:

  1. Quality opportunities that convert to profitable sales
  2. A predictable supply of the above
  3. An opportunity to continuously improve conversions at all stages in the sales process

Just three things. That’s all.

Those three things will deliver you the following:

  1. A regular, predictable and controllable supply of profitable business
  2. An opportunity to accelerate sales growth in a sustainable manner at a controllable rate that is appropriate for your business

What more do you want?

I thought not.

What Should Your Sales and Business Development System Look Like?

Again – it should be really simple.

So simple it’s child’s play.

I’ve seen sales processes that stretch around the block and back again…trust me when I tell you, the more complex your sale process, the more things will go wrong AND, even worse, you’ll rarely be able to find the root cause quickly…that means the sales fix is a million miles away.

Keep it Simple.

Like this:

  • Qualified Leads In
  • Meetings Booked
  • Quotes Out
  • Converted Customers
  • Retained Customers

Too simple?

Too right!

But, in reality, those are the key 5 sections that will affect your profit and your sales throughput.

Sure – there are mini sections inside these 5 sections but the reality is – if you manage these 5 sections and the 4 gates in between them, then you’ll be doing what 90% of the sales teams working today ARE’NT doing.

How good would you feel then?

You see, these four gates (shown in red) – from Leads > Meetings > Quotes > Converted Customers > Retained Customers, will show you exactly what part of your sales process is letting you down.

Once you know that, it’s a very simple deep dive to improve that section.

If you want some guidance on what you can do to improve each of the 5 sections – take a look here.

How to Set Up Your Sales and Business Development System?

3 key rules:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Don’t make it complicated
  3. Remember rule 1 and rule 2

Seriously, I can’t stress it enough…complicated and complex will kill any ambition you have of accelerated sales growth.

You can wave goodbye to highly predictable sales growth and it will cost you heavily in time, profit and opportunity, plus you’ll be forever cursing the day you spent creating a monster that’s unmanageable.

And you know the worst thing? Without such a simple, transparent and segmented sales and business development system, you’ll be FOREVER reliant on the skills of your transient sales team rather than the potency of your sales engine, and if that doesn’t scare you then stop reading now, because if you’re putting your business performance in the hands of the sales team who can up and off, en mass, in a heart beat then you’re playing with fire.

Trust me.

So, top line – how do you set up a Sales and Business Development System for your business?

Take a look here for an initial insight.

Your Sales and Business Development System – 10 Things to Think About.

Transparency – each section (shown above) should have it’s own high level of transparency, it’s own accountability and it’s own check list

Sales Process – have a sales process that EVERYONE sticks to. No deviation, no hesitation, no question – you’ll never be able to scale and replicate a working and profitable sales and business development system if everyone is doing their own thing – this will help you.

Set KPI’s for each of the 4 gates that exist between the 5 sections. They are the KPI’s you manage every single minute of every single day

Metrics – for additional sales metrics to check you’re on track – down load this

Lead Quality – be very very careful of the leads you put in the top of your sales process – your sales and business development system will die a slow and painful death if you treat all leads as being of equal value and if you shove any old rubbish in there…no point keeping count if you’re just counting worthless buttons…make sure your leads are high quality, pure gold prospects you’d LOVE to work with – for more details check this out for advice on How to Build A Great Sales Funnel

And don’t forget these in your Sales and Business Development System 

Get Creative – to drive accelerated sales growth you’ll need to get creative in each of your 5 sections. Here’s two insights  to show you how you can do that – check them out – download – Only Dead Fish Go With the Flow, check out this blog on How To Increase Price.

You’re Selling What? – think about what you’re actually selling, you’ll be able to get a greater insight into this by asking what your customers are actually buying, because once you understand this not only will you be able to accelerate your sales growth you’ll also be able to increase your prices…here’s a guide to help you – just hit this link

Value – think about what value you bring to the buyer at every single stage. If something in your sales process doesn’t deliver value to the buyer, then serious consider getting rid of it.

Managing Poor Sales Performance – you’ll need to be tough, there’s no point putting up with sub par sales performance if you’re a business committed to sales growth – check this out – How to Deal With Poor Sales Performance 

Get Competitive – be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and make some noise, sure you can still keep your operations covert if you wish, but as far as your prospects, buyers and sales force are concerned – be loud and proud – check this out if you want a nudge in that direction.

And one final thing – make sure you’ve got your sales and senior management team on board acting as sales performance improvement functions, sales coaches, sales problem solvers and sales guides…this is a big task and some of your old guard will rally against the change, check here...if you’re committed to accelerated sales growth I know you’ll do what you need to do.

So can any business set up a sales and business development system?

Yes – any business can.

Few chose to.

Many leave it in the hands of the individual sales functions, sales people, sales managers and they pay the consequences when key sales people leave.

Accelerated sales growth relies on ALL aspects of the business pulling in the same directions – that means any business undertaking such a commitment to increase sales and business performance needs an agreed, workable and sustainable sales and business development system.

Few firms have this.

The cost associated in not having such a system is huge – time, money, market share, brand value, competitor growth, missed opportunity, lack of responsiveness, mediocre business and sales performance…all negatively impacting the bottom line.

I hope you think about how your business could benefit from such a system…

Any questions…call me

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

If you’re looking for an online sales improvement and business development training course – check out TurboCharged Sales 

 

Sales Manager – Has Your Job Died?

Sales Manager – Has Your Job Died?

Sales Manager

I regret to inform you that as a business we’ve taken the very difficult decision to let you go.

We will honour the obligations laid out in our contract and as such, hope you will do the same as a Sales Manager in the business.

I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to you for your commitment, effort and professionalism during with your time with us.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed working with us as much as we’ve enjoyed working with you, and we wish you every success in finding a new position.

Chairman*

P.S. I really am very sorry. I have no choice.

You see, you’ve been great at pulling reports, checking the sales metrics, doing discipline hearings, checking off expenses, sorting out queries, handling complaints, reconciling month end figures, checking commission claims, fielding holiday requests and making sure the sales car fleet was renewed competitively every year. Thank you…I don’t know what I’d have done without you.

Good Luck.

P.P.S. I just wanted to say, personally I wanted to keep you…we’ve been through thick and thin together…but you see the board had different ideas – you see, they’d read this report, and after that the board want  someone who’s never at their desk.

The popular view is fixated on having someone who coaches 7 hours a day, who just loves helping the sales team sell better, helping the sales team deliver a better sales experience to prospects. Someone who works with the sales team to help them sky rocket their commission. A sales leader who is embedded in the customers markets, who can see the changes in the market ahead of time and prep the sales guys to do battle.

They want someone who is keen to work with the sales team to bring about the demise of the competition, someone who can spot commercial opportunities ahead and guide the sales team to exploit those opportunities, but I guess you like doing admin in your office more than you like working with people to improve their sales performance. I guess you can’t be great at everything.

And another thing…

No-one does pivot tables and power point like you do, therefore you make sure you add that to your CV!

***

Oh dear!

As Sales Manager it’s the last thing you want.

Chances are – you’d be neither the sender (see disclaimer at the bottom of this post) or the recipient of such a letter…but the writing’s on the wall for Sales Managers everywhere.

The questions is, as a Sales Manager:

Will you read it?

And, once you’ve read it, will you do anything about it?

You might want to think about your response…the role of conventional Sales Manager is changing, and it’s changing quickly.

The New Role of the Old Sales Manager

If we were honest, we’d stop using Sale Manager as a job title to describe the person that manages the sales team.

It’s not proper any more. And it won’t be again. Ever.

Today, the Sales Manager is that and so much more.

And the ‘so much more’ encompasses a lot. But even more crucially, it’s a whole different skill set.

So let’s call it what is really is – let’s scrub out Sales Manager and use words that have some meaning in this new age:

Sales Coach, Sales Performance Manager, Sales Leader, Sales Analyst, Sales Auditor, Sales Improvement Specialist

…there are more but that just about covers it.

Now, I hope you can see why conventional sales manager just doesn’t cut it any more?

I hate using the word should but I have no choice here.

Here’s what you should be doing and where you should be focusing your precious time; use this list to check of what you’re currently doing versus what you should/could be doing, or doing more of.

Also, as Sales Manager, use this list as an opportunity to look at some of those mundane non-value added tasks you either need to delegate or simply jettison altogether.

Key Must Do Activities for the New ‘Sales Manager’
  • Sales coaching – real time side by side coaching
  • Analysis of sales performance in situ – field or telephone, exhibition, skype or networking
  • Creating Best Sales Practice as you go along – not as an isolated academic exercise to share post creation
  • Sharing Best Sales Practice
  • Monitoring Sales Leakage Points in your Sales Pipeline and Sales Funnel…and stopping the leaks
  • Monitoring, measuring and managing key sales metrics
  • Accurately forecasting
  • Improving the competitive position of the sales team
  • Exploring competitive niches
  • Building up intelligence and knowledge to help your sales team minimise the impact of the competition

What might not be immediately evident from this list is every single one of these tasks is people facing. You don’t need an office or even a desk. You’d be surprised how much great, results generating work you can get done sat next to your team on a rotating basis.

How do I know? Because I do it. It’s one of the easiest and simplest ways to see sales results rocket. Try it. Then tell me it doesn’t work. You’ll not be able to.

I’ve yet to find a Sales Manager yet who hasn’t seen a spike in sales just by spending more time with their staff.

So here’s the good news – step up, the writing’s on the wall, read it and change course accordingly…the choice is your’s.

Not bothered?

That’s your call. Hope you’re dismissal letter as Sales Manager is nicer than the one above.

And if you need even more proof – take a read of this – just hit the link –  Job Description and Skills

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

Free Guides – Instant Download – to help Sales Managers to drive the sales team and improve sales performance:

7 Sales Metrics You MUST Measure, Manage and Monitor

High Converting Call Structures for Generating High Quality Sales Appointments

7 Big Mistakes…

Only Dead Fish Go With the Flow

How to Price Like a Pro

How to Outsell Your Competition

And a few blogs on Sales Performance and Sales Performance Improvement

Habit Beats Knowledge – Every Time

Sales Performance – What Do You Really, Really Want?

And a Free Gift – all your’s

Hit the link here to claim

*Disclaimer: as if I should need to add this, but I will.

If you wish to dismiss any person in your employment, this is NOT the letter to use.

You should always take independent legal advice from a HR, legal and employment specialist in order to comply with the law and your legal obligations. This will help you protect your business, and minimise the risk of any adverse action.