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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 Performance Improvement – Habit Beats Knowledge Every Time

Sales Performance Improvement – Habit Beats Knowledge Every Time

Sales Performance Improvement – Habit Beats Knowledge Every Time

Sales Performance Improvement is the key driver for continuous sales improvement…better results, bigger results, faster.

If you’re in sales, sales management or running your own business then chances are you’ll be looking for ways to continually boost your sales performance. You’ll be looking for more customers, more profitable clients, in less time, bigger orders, larger average order values, higher conversions…

That’s business. It’s also human nature to ask…is this the best we can do? Can we do it better, easier, faster?

Plus, in sales, it’s a competitive environment. You’re forced to ask these questions. Your shareholders, competitors, stakeholders and bank will be asking you the same.

Here’s the truth about seeking continuous sales performance improvement:

”Once a certain level of skill, knowledge and competence is acquired, then driving Continuous Sales Performance Improvement has more to do with changing habits than increasing knowledge and skills”

You see, if you’ve been in a sales or sales leadership role for any time, you’ll most likely know everything there is to know and that you need to know…and your performance will reflect that.

That might be enough for you, your business, your clients.

But what about what you don’t know?

How important is that?

In his book –The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande strongly, and with good reason once you read his research, advocates the use of extensive check-lists to improve performance.

Sales Performance Improvement works the same way.

Gawande’s background is in medicine. Having piloted and then rolled out his check-list based methodology across many hospitals and medical facilities he details how a simple check-list has saved 100’s of thousands of lives.  He proposes his way of working, the same methodology can be transferred to other industries – and I for one, strongly agree with him.

In truth, anything that saves that number of lives has to be worth a good look at. You’ll agree when you read his evidence. Simply put, if a humble check-list can save that many lives…what could the same do for your business, your sales performance and your sales results?

Worth a look?

So This Relates to Sales Performance Improvement How?

Here’s the premise:

No-one needs a check list for the simple stuff, where there are few variables, when the outcome is low risk, it’s a predictable action with a predictable outcome…

But check-lists have a distinct advantage in those situations where there is a higher level of complexity, more risk, a handful of variables and no guaranteed outcome.

This is the first and last time you’ll see me compare sales to heart surgery but there you go. You’ll see where I’m going with this…

In both, the risks are high, lots of complexity, variables, high levels of unpredictability, opportunity for errors and failure are all present.

So whilst we’re not talking about losing lives, we are risking something. Maybe losing margin, turnover, market share, customer confidence, shareholder confidence, brand value.

Digging deeper, Gawande makes the distinction between two types of error:

Ignorance – mistakes we make because we don’t know enough.

Ineptitude – mistakes we make because we don’t use the skills and knowledge we have in the right way.

He concludes that most errors happen because of the latter – ineptitude.

This suggests that the person actually knows all they need to know, they have all the skills they need to know.

Moreover, this ineptitude exists in simple and complex tasks.

Let me explain, the problems occur when old habits, entrenched ways of working. When the ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ mindsets overtake them. Or when the body is on auto pilot. Almost like conscious competence, but not quite as competent as one imagines.

That’s a perfect breeding ground for errors to take place. For example, the patient has complications or the sale derails. Simply because of lack of good habits, rather than lack of skills, knowledge or competence.

This is where the Sales Performance Improvement Check-list comes into it’s own.

It’s a check-list to use. A list to refer to when the sales process with a client is going off track. It’s literally a step by step guide in what to do to rescue it, bring it back on track, get it motoring in the right direction.

How simple is that?

Here’s an example:

In  his book Gawande uses examples of Dr’s and medical staff not washing their hands as frequently as they should. Or as frequently as they thought they did.

Pay attention to that last statement. It’s very important because how many times do we think we’ve done something when actually we haven’t? Especially those repetitive tasks, the small tasks that matter but don’t really register at the time?

Gawande references the Dr’s failing to ask a simple question of the patient, or washing hands.

It’s the same in a sales environment, it could be remembering to ask the budget question early on, or finding out if this is a price comparison exercise or a genuine need with the client.

These are seemingly inconsequential questions at the time that have a HUGE impact on the quality of the sale and the chances of profitable conversion.

On a real life basis – if you’ve ever kept a food diary – you know that your ‘good food days’ were more like ‘ok food days’ and your ‘ok food days’ really should be called ‘oh hell! food days’! The power of the check-list in another format!

So, there’s no two ways about it when you’re thinking about sales performance improvement, or even better, continuous sales performance improvement then – Habit Beats Knowledge every time.

Summary: Sales Performance Improvement 

Gawande concludes that having and rigorously using check-lists improves the chances of success and improves performance across the board.

My take away, is much bigger and more important than simply improving sales performance and here’s why.

Such a check-list based methodology actually changes habits. That is exciting because if you’re adopting this in your sales team, your business and your customer facing environment you’ve just created your baseline for continuous sales performance improvement.

That’s priceless.

One more thing:

If you’re putting this system in place, it dramatically changes the function of your sales manager…or Sales Performance Coach. Both functions now act as part auditor, part coach, part sales performance improvement specialist…which is how it should be…but more on that another day…

Happy Selling

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

07790021885

If you want regular sales and business development information – hit the link here. It’s totally free and great for helping you boost your sales efforts. Many subscribers use it to power and energise their sales meetings. Try it out, there’s an unsubscribe button if you don’t like it after a few weeks…