So get dialing! Get talking! Networking! Profile Building!
You have to be in it to win it!
If you’re not dialing, talking, networking, profile building you’re not in it!
Your chance of failure AND success increases with your level of activity
Extra dials, the more rejections you’ll suffer, therefore the more success you’ll enjoy.
The Equal Odds Rule is simple. You’ve as much chance of success as failure, and it’s really that complicated, or that simple, depending on how your brain is programmed.
BUT too many sales people aren’t even in the game, not at all. They just think they are, and that’s where it’s dangerous, for them, their employers and their sales forecasts.
They don’t believe that the harder the dial, the more they dial, the more people they speak with, the more people they meet with, the more networking they do (online and offline)…they just don’t get the Equal Odds Rule and it’s predictor of their fate… or their success
Cutting to the Chase
It’s not about saying no to maxing the level of activity, it’s now about just one thing…
Maxing Out the Level of Relevant Sales Activity
Activity = Failure/Success can be replaced by Relevant Activity = Failure/Success
What Does Relevant Sales Activity Look Like?
What’s your WEEKLY relevant activity schedule look like? For example…
How much time do you spend
talking with customers to get referrals?
with customers building relationships?
engaging with prospects?
with influencers in your industry?
encouraging dialogue and courting referrers?
nurturing relationships in your LinkedIn Groups, Facebook communities, Twitter sphere?
scouring LinkedIn and other such data sources to build comprehensive family trees of suitable organisations with relevant contacts?
What efforts did you invest in working towards being recognised as a ‘go to expert’ in your industry?
How many educational posts did you put out this week?
Count the people in your personal/professional network your helped this week?
How much goodwill did you create via referrals/introductions across your network?
Did you spend enough time leveraging your personal network for your benefit and for the benefit of people who know you?
It’s not my job to point the finger and tell you what you should do or even what your Relevant Sales Activity should be, because I have no idea about you, your ambitions or how you currently work, instead I’d ask you to reflect on how you spend your time and how you could better spend your time to make sure you weight the odds in your favour in the Equal Odds Rule.
You have as much chance of winning as losing…you just have to be in the game.
To what extent are you really in the game?
Here’s the Truth about Relevant Sales Activity
Whether you believe the Equal Odds Rule or not, just think about it, there is an inevitable fact.
The more you are out there as a proactive sales person, the better you will get at your craft, the greater your skill, the better your professional profile, the higher your status, the better your sales skills will be.
You’ll get all of your ‘failures’ out of the way, by default, you’ll improve your chances of winning.
Work the Equal Odds Rule because you can’t lose.
You can take control of your own sales career now and focus on the absolute and critical sales success factors, and create your own relevant sales activity – just hit the link here – tell me more
Strategy and Sales Business Plans – Questioning the Reality
Strategy Overload, Strategy BS and Strategy Words Without Meaning!! I’ve seen it all over the last 4 months.
I spent three weeks in summer looking through some very ambitious sales strategy and business plans for a company that has huge ambition and even bigger potential.
Huge potential. In fact, off the scale potential.
Little competition. Great product. Demonstrable ability to deliver. Fabulous reputation. Outstanding service ethos.
Strategy – Why Bother?
As you would expect when the business needs to break through to the next level, then their senior business leaders put tremendous effort into pulling the business plans together.
That’s cost serious time and serious money.
We drafted, redrafted, discussed, argued, challenged, tested, refined, redesigned, road mapped, reflected, showcased and shredded…until the final business plan was alive and kicking.
At which point, the senior business leaders confirmed they’d all created a plan they knew they could achieve, something they could have faith in, fully recognising that if they didn’t take action now, then one of their hungry competitors would.
The value of a well designed sales strategy is not just making sure that it works on paper. That’s one aspect.
But it’s also about seeking alignment in the thinking of the key players.
It’s a chance for everyone to have their input into the sales strategy, everyone can say their piece, share their concerns before reaching a workable consensus.
So, by the time everyone has signed off on the sales strategy, you know everyone is on board.
That’s it. Committed to. In love with. Totally sold on what needs to be done…
Sales Strategy – That’s All?
None of that is as important as the bit that comes next.
This is the most important bit.
It’s this question.
One single question.
That question comes when it’s time for action.
Time to make the dreams come true.
This is when I know whether the senior business team are really in, or if they’re just saying they’re in.
At this stage boards will ask one of two questions:
How cheaply can we get this done?
How quickly can we get this done?
Two completely different mind sets and two completely different trajectories to success (or not).
Of course, the ideal sits somewhere in the middle of the extremes…well, you’d like to think that, in an ideal world.
Because this is the truth, if you’re wholeheartedly behind what you’re going to do and you’ve been sensible, realistic and conservative with your projections, transparent in your risk analysis and have a business model you truly believe in them money is rarely as big an issue as time is.
Either way – the point of this: are you asking yourself the right questions?
Because the best sales strategy in the world is pointless if you don’t believe in it enough to make it go as far and as fast as possible.
Action is key. Action drives everything else. Action matters when the words are just words.
Think about it next time you have to commit to business changing actions.
In the meantime:
You can download a selection of free reports on how to improve your sales performance – just hit the link on our blog
Plus you can sign up to a free weekly digest of practical and proven sales and business development improvement strategies – hit the link – The Advanced Business Achiever.
Sales Conversion Rates: The Ultimate Sales Metric…or is it?
Lots of sales leaders and sales people monitor their sales conversion rates since it’s a good top line indicator as to how things are going…from staying steady to gently increasing or, heavens forbid, heading south.
But, I also know some firms who don’t pay that much attention to it at all. Personally, I think that’s a huge mistake and hopefully, soon, you’ll agree with me.
Sales Conversion Rates, whether you are a sales person or a sales leader, informs you how you are using your most precious money making commodity….time.
Plus: anything that allows you to predict future performance in sales is worth watching.
Sales Conversion Rates: Where do I measure them?
Your sales process, documented and detailed, rigid or flexible, will have certain gates in it.
If you subscribe to my idea of a Plug and Play Sales Model – see here – then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
But, for the sake of speed, let’s assume you don’t.
You’ll know (or should know) how many sales calls you make in a day. How many of those convert to opportunities – meetings (that’s one gate) or quotes (that’s another gate)…or declines, or call backs, or deadlines…(these are all gates too)
You’ll know how many of those meetings turn to quotes. how many convert to orders immediately. How many decline and how many pipeline for another time (that’s another 4 gates). Even more gates will you consider monitoring sales cycle times also.
From your quotes, you’ll get another series of sales gates….
And at the end of that, you’ll get a final, maybe monthly, weekly or daily overall sales conversion rate based activity during that period.
It’s all about knowing what gates to measure
What gates to pay especial attention to and how focusing on the quality of interaction at each of those sales gates can dramatically improve the sales conversion rates for the individual gates as well as overall sales conversion rates.
Further sales metrics that drill even further down into the sales process is you’re serious about really improving your sales performance are detailed here. Just hit the link for your free guide – instant download – The 7 Sales Metrics to Measure, Manage and Monitor.
You see, measuring just one overall sales conversion rate is just not enough…it doesn’t give you a detailed enough picture.
And certainly you won’t be able to do the sales improvement diagnostic you need if you’re serious about really boosting those sales figures…
Sales Conversion Rates: The Fastest Way to Predict the Sales Future
Once you know the metrics at each of your selected sales gates, you’ll have your sales recipe. If you’re struggling as to how to calculate this – see here.
Your sales recipe is the formula, which may fluctuate slightly, allows you to judge sales performance, manage sales resources, predict sales performance, optimise sales resources and most certainly is the first step in creating any scaleable sales model.
It’s also the crux of real sales or performance management program.
5 Things To Think About With Sales Conversion Rates
Too high and it could mean you’re pricing too low, or at least it’s an opportunity to reconsider your offer, your pricing, your route to market, how you package your product/service, and how you compete in the market place.
Too low and it could be an indicator that you need to look at the prospects your chasing and the offer your proposing. On the whole this presents a huge amount of opportunity for positive growth (Click hereto find out how one company went from 1:25 sales conversion rate to 1:3, and tripled their average order value)
A sales conversion rate that stays the same (as long as it’s healthy) could mean many things, but on the whole it means you’ve got a solid test bed for testing out some new sales initiatives; namely – testing out new pricing, new positioning, different sales techniques.
A sales conversion rate that’s in rapid decline should set all alarm bells off very quickly. Are you under competitor attack? Is it dissent in the sales ranks? A change in product? A raft of customer complaints? (A branding issue? Pricing problems? Quality issues? Read here about poor customer service nearly killed one firms new business efforts).
A sales conversion rate that’s increasing dramatically – well first thing you do is celebrate…obviously, the second thing you do is monitor customer complaints…and then refer back to my first point.
Sales Conversion Rates: The Sales and Business Thermometer
Sales Conversion Rates are gold to me. At a glance I know who is performing and who is not. I know where to focus my efforts and what to leave well alone.
I know who’s on fire and who needs a fire setting underneath them.
Sales Conversion Rates tell me what types of customers my clients should avoid. What types they should hunt for, what to charge in what sectors, how to pitch and present in those sectors, as well as when to actively hammer a region as well as when not to waste time.
Monitoring sales conversion rates works.
It’s very effective and takes no time at all to set up, and it’s the certain route to optimising sales resources and minimising costly waste.
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.
Invest in training
Start performance management
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?
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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)
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
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Sales Performance – What Do You Really, Really Want?
Sales Performance – the puzzle for anyone in sales management.
Bigger? More? Faster?
But what does Sales Performance means to you, and how do you measure it?
I ask this question a lot.
Every business and sales leader I know wants better sales performance. Every single one.
Ask those same people to define what ‘better sales performance’ means and it gets more complicated.
It turns out a simple question generates a very long list, all under the heading of ‘better’
The mind-blowing thing is that the long list is long because it’s pointless!
While we’re on the subject of sales performance – interesting article on this very subject here – well worth a read.
Sales Performance – What Do We Mean?
Bottom line, for most businesses they want more customers, spending more money, more frequently.
They also want short sales cycles, decent margins and a flowing sales pipeline.
You and I can buy into that. It makes sense.
BUT, here’s what happens in reality.
The key person, or group of people, responsible for bringing on board more customers, encouraging them to spend more money, more frequently, are also the same people that are often handling customer account, queries, complaints, emails, and all manner of other functions that actually STOP them achieving their goal of recruiting more customers, spending more money, more frequently.
But it’s true.
How to ACE Sales Performance – The Plug and Play Sales Model
Rule Number 1 – let the sales team do what they are good at.
Let the sales team so what you recruited them to do and what you want them to do!
You wouldn’t expect a top level chef to wash the kitchen down at the end of the night, or have a major fashion designer order stationery…it’s not playing to their strengths and the truth is they’d be the most expensive cleaner and office junior imaginable.
It doesn’t happen.
Yet, it happens so frequently in sales teams – it’s almost like we imagine that anything to do with the customer is ‘sale’s job’
A slick sales operation has sales people selling 100% percent of the time.
Sales people don’t manage accounts – that’s for account managers.
Sales people don’t handle customer complaints – that’s for customer service
You get it so….I won’t go on
Rule Number 2 – isolate every function in your sales pipeline if you want real sales performance clarity.
Who’s generating the leads?
Then, who’s contacting the customer to sell?
And, who’s managing the existing customer accounts?
know this – Sales in a production line.
Think about the car manufacture production line – if the same guy that bolts the chassis is also running to the end of the line to polish the car before dispatch – well, guess how many cars get made and finished that day? NONE!
It’s the same with your sales production line – when everybody does everything – nothing gets done! Or if it does, it gets done more slowly than it should, which means it’s also more costly.
Even worse – if you do have sales performance issues…can you identify them in a heart beat? Not a chance.
Can you solve them easily? That would be no!
Having true clear transparency around every sales function in the sales production line with real time KPI’s and sales metrics can see your sales rocket.
It’s the fastest way to get your sales engine roaring.
Rule number 3 – monitor and manage your sales metrics religiously.
KPI’s at each of the gates in your sales process will let you see where you’re wasting resources – that might be time, leads, conversions or profits….or maybe all three.
Keeping a close eye on your key metrics is vital if you’re driving for optimum sales performance.
Sales is very scientific in that you can have a process of Continuous Sales Improvement – hour by hour, day by day, week by week…then all of a sudden you’ve had your best quarter yet because this the only way to consistently drive improved sales performance
Sales Performance – Quick Summary
– Make sure your sales guys do what only your sales guys can do! Multitasking will kill your productivity and chances of success in a heart beat, because your sales people will never be your best administrators!
– Have a very transparent sales function process with key metrics at each stage because that’s the fastest way to see where your sales leakage is taking place. Hit the link here if you want to know what sales metrics to monitor in your sales team.
This might mean having a research team, an appointment setting team, a sales team, a customer service team. Or maybe your team equates to just one person in each function. You can do the maths, moreover separate functions work best because you get total clarity along your whole sales process.
– Know your numbers at each of the gates in the sales process because that way, if the sales results aren’t what you expect you can IMMEDIATELY see where the leak is…and that usually means a speedy fix too.
If you’d like to discuss your sales team and sales performance – do contact me on the details below, because every day wasted in sub standard sales mode costs you money.
Competitive strategy takes more than simply dropping the price.
Discover how lowering price is not the best differentiator when you’re trying to boost sales, profits and market share, and why simply distracting the market with cheaper prices is the last thing you should do.
The Number 1 Rule for Managing Poor Sales Performance
If you’re responsible for managing poor sales performance, then face it head on. Acting fast at the first sign of sales dipping.
When sales start dipping, and that will happens, learn how to maintain control, so that you ensure your sales results are, at best, put back into a climb, or at worst, maintained whilst you run your repair and rebuild process.
Selecting to avoid managing poor sales performance may be the easy choice but it’s never the wisest.
Managing poor sales performance is fraught with all sorts of hurdles.
Taking responsibility, you have to do right by the sales person, right by the business, stick within the realms of good HR practice, document everything, engage in endless good sales and best practice performance management programs in the hope that everyone can dig in, pull tight and trade through.
Sometimes it works well, and when it does, that success is a huge reward and acknowledgement of your skills as a sales manager and the untapped potential of the business
But, sometimes you’re fighting a battle out front with all of the responsibility and none of the control whilst someone’s drilling holes in your efforts…
Why Proactively Managing Poor Sales Performance So Important?
Managing poor sales performance is an art form.
Poor sales performance costs money, time, resources and missed opportunity, and the very worst part is, you’re most likely contributing to your competitors growth.
Managing poor sales performance efficiently, effectively and with minimum impact on the rest of the sales function is vital.
After all, sinking time and effort into managing poor sales performance is a huge risk with no guaranteed short term payback, so anything you can do to:
1. speed up the process
2. reduce risk
3. guarantee success
4. let business as usual continue in the rest of the sales team…
Will automatically minimise the negative impacts associated with having to manage, support, train and develop poor sales performers, as well as make the rest of the team/business feel you’ve not deserted them.
What’s the Cost of Not Hitting Sales Targets?
It’s estimated that in any one year between 50% and 55% of sales staff don’t make sales target.
The reality is, if you’re not managing poor sales performance in your company, managing it so every sales person hits target in your business, you could be missing out on the opportunity of doubling your sales turnover without increasing your headcount!
”…you could be missing out on the opportunity of doubling your sales turnover without increasing your headcount!”
Now that’s a shocker.
So, how do you think about your sales people not hitting sales targets?
You could think about this cost as:
1. factored into the business running costs
2. the payback for being in business
3. pretty much par of the course and to be expected
4. only 55% not hitting target? I wish!
How you think about it will dictate what you’re prepared to do to eliminate it, and how tolerant you are of your trading conditions. Can you afford to be tolerant? How happy are you with the results/performance you’re getting?
But what about when poor sales performance impacts more than your sales results?
How about when it severely hampers your speed of growth, your business stability… your sales future.
Managing Poor Sales Performance – What Are You Prepared To Do When Sales Targets are Missed?
Personally, I hate under performance…it means there’s something wrong, it’s expensive and I never know when a sales dip’s going to bottom out, so I favour fast repair and reboot…
But before any repair or reboot can be done, you must identify where the fault sits in terms of things that cause poor sales performance.
It could be that:
1. the sales targets are set wrongly, so chances of success are limited
2. the sales recruitment is off track because the business needs a different sales skill set than originally thought
3. reward and recognition program is failing, hence staff aren’t motivated to achieve and bear no consequence for under achieving
4. sales management is failing, and this can be for a number of reasons
5. the market has changed and you’ve been caught napping
6. the competitors are getting stronger, more aggressive, focused, tenacious
7. a region is not performing as well as it should for geo/economic/political reasons
8. pricing is out of line and not responsive or dynamic
9. not trained the staff well enough
10. not coached/supported the staff often enough
11. failing to keep accurate temperature of the market forces and prospects fads
12. not buying/creating good quality leads or data
13. don’t have a great lead generation system or new business development plan
14. targeting the wrong type of prospects
15. targeting the right type of prospects with the wrong offer
Any combination of the above sound familiar?
Good News About Managing Poor Sales Performance:
And here’s the good news, the reason I hate sales non-performance so much is that 99.9% of the time, it’s fixable.
Yes, totally fixable.
To manage poor sales performance is not a black art…it’s about identifying a leak and fixing it to get the desired sales results.
And what’s even better is that, when you do fix the poor sales performance, it doesn’t just help the poor performers, it typically helps the whole sales team.
So, managing poor sales performance to eliminate the issue quickly, smoothly, efficiently, effectively, with minimum risk and maximum chances of success?
Not a tall order at all!
When you recruited your sales people into your sales team you must have seen something that convinced you that they would be a valuable asset to the team.
At the point of recruiting that sales person there was a business costs and a commitment to train them in their post.
Most companies forget this bit.
Very few sales people hit the ground running, regardless of their pedigree, past performance or skill set.
There still needs to be a typically immense investment by the business in getting the new recruit up to speed.
This is where it often falls down – a business might use the ‘sit with Nelly’ school of training…which means good habits get repeated, bad habits get repeated and no-one gets trained…but the sales manager can still tick the box and sign off to say it has.
Why am I telling you this?
Because this is where poor sales performance starts.
This can also be the point where it stops.
Cut the risk of having to manage poor sales performance before it even starts.
PLUS, and this is an absolute must if you’re a hungry sales manager…everyone is on a continual performance management program…every single one of the sales team, performers, plodders, super stars, the nearly there and the abject losers…keep everybody on a sales performance program ALL THE TIME.
Start date? The minute they walk on to your team.
That’s why, if you capture and train your new sales recruit early, you’ll be less likely to need any kind of program for managing poor sales performance later on, and if you do find your self in this position, the cause is usually fairly simple to identify and remedy.
If you need any help in recruiting great sales people – check out these two free reports, just hit the link for an instant download…
Now, let’s look at what to do if already have a poorly performing sales team and need help on managing poor sales performance.
First of all consider why you should be alert to managing poor sales performance:
1. What would it mean to the business if you could move the bell curve that typically denotes sales team performance just slightly to the right indicating that more of the sales team would be hitting target or be above target….
2. What are the poor performers costing you? Consider not just the salary bill, car, benefits etc, instead think also about the lost opportunities, the increased time between expressions of interest and purchase order, the higher sales acquisition cost, the likely reduced margin….
3. Consider the impact of not managing poor performers on the morale and motivation of those sales people who always hitting target, carrying the poor performers? After all, sales is a meritocracy, so why should the performers and the non-performers be treated in the same way and both allowed to keep their jobs?
What could you do as part of managing poor sales performance?
Some organisations will put a revolving door on the sales office for the poorer performers. The under performers either make the grade or they go. In fact, many larger organisations will adopt a process of forced ranking where the bottom 10% will be asked in improve within 3 months or find alternative employment either within or outside of their organisation.
Some organisations will look at the sales team as a whole and maintain the performers, exceptional performers and under performers in the same environment, on the basis that they accept the bell curve model and appreciate that this is possibly as good as it gets.
Some organisations may invest heavily in the poor performers training, coaching, mentoring and offering additional support.
Every sales management team and business will have its own way of dealing with poor sales performance.
What type of organisation are you in, and what are you doing at the moment to manage poor sales performance?
Sales Management complain that when dealing with poor sales performance, it is the huge amounts of time it takes addressing the individuals and their problem(s) that causes the biggest upset. All sales managers should be supportive and invest, of course, but many fully understand that it’s so much time and effort with no guaranteed return can be a thankless task. And that mindset brings it’s own set of problems.
However, let’s not forget, it’s worth every minute when it works!!
Collectively, over the years we have designed a few techniques to address the issues associated with poor sales performance and managing poor sales performance.
You might also want a second opinion – at no cost to you whatsoever.
In fact, you can claim your FREE SALES HEALTH CHECK – just click on the link here and I’ll get back to you within 24 hrs. UK wide.
Managing Poor Sales Performance – 22 Point Quick Summary
1. Start formal sales performance management action immediately. If the sales person hits target and works then there is no issue. BUT if they don’t hit target and it doesn’t work out and the sales performance doesn’t improve then you’ll have a documented course of past remedial action, such as is needed to support your recommendations and decisions. Managing poor sales performance needs immediate ongoing action.
2. As part of managing poor sales performance set tight and short term targets to help them focus…half daily if necessary. Some under performers feel swamped so clarity and direction maybe lacking. Make it easy for them to perform.
3. Ask them what hurdles they are experiencing – and remove those hurdles temporarily from their desk…whatever that takes. As part of managing poor sales performance give them freedom to deliver and see what difference it makes.
4. Explore each deal in the forecast/pipeline with them and agree on a strategy to make things happen – time consuming but often pays very high dividends. This is a crucial part of managing poor sales performance.
5. Put the responsibility for their success firmly in their hands, whilst making yourself as accessible as possible. Under performers need to understand the tactics and techniques for driving sales performance when their sales hit a dip. As part of managing poor sales performance, you need to give them those skills and insights.
6. Have daily meetings to discuss performance, so they can update you on progress, in other words, don’t let them lose heart because they need to know you are on their side.
7. Encourage them to concentrate on what they have in their pipeline and have already qualified, as opposed to random cold calling.
8. Complete accompanied visits with potential clients and the under performer. This is vital. The more time you spend with the under performer, the greater their chance of success, and the sooner they’ll start to perform in line with expectations.
9. Generate a time sensitive to ‘close’ list daily because side by side management of this list of activities build confidence and action mindset.
10. Watch the attitude as well as the skills. Perfectly competent sales people can under perform when the attitude is wrong, even if the skill levels are high.
11. Address any obvious sales skills that are poor/missing.
12. Find out what their motivators are, and use them.
13. Partner them with some of your more professional and performing sales people – accompanied visits, but don’t saddle the performing sales person with your responsibilities.
14. Conduct sales pipeline analysis – where in the sales pipeline are deals falling over, getting stuck or falling apart? It may be a skills deficiency or a simple mind set shift that’s needed, consequently you can determine which it is.
15. Get them to go back to established and happy customers to get referrals, to cross sell, to up sell. Anything so that they get to taste success because this is so important. It’s tough to break a long line of sales failures, hence tasting success is a valuable jump start because everyone needs that.
16. Strictly assess skills…do you have a farmer in a hunter role? Do you have a customer service super star trying to climb a mountain of new business…look for their strengths and not just their weaknesses. and subsequently place them where they play to their strengths, where this is possible.
17. Let them see you selling and making profit in their sector. Being successful on their patch with their clients because that’s when they get to see what’s possible, when you show them what’s possible
18. Test their market knowledge – total immersion, because that’s the only way to find out what they know, what they don’t know, what they should know and make sure they close the gaps.
19. Do not load too much pressure on the under performer because it won’t help, moreover, it’ll most likely send them backwards.
20. Punch drunk training sessions – role play and role play some more. With you and them in a room, hit them with every single objection and sales avoidance technique you have. Either way, just kill them with the speed, ferocity and force of your NO argument and help them work out how to fight back with their YES sales position
21. The sales person should display a high energy state every day, what that means is no slouching into the office, got to show up pumped for another day to turn this around.
22. Do a psychometric test on the under performers, because at this point, like Sherlock Holmes, you’re looking for clues to indicate where the blockage is…
I know – you’re shaking you head wondering ‘what the hell’.
I’m hearing you. It’s a valid reaction.
But the truth is you have a few choices. You can seek to find and cultivate the skills and attributes you identified when you recruited this person and work with them to make their and your dream a sales reality.
Or, you can call HR. Go through the process and start again. You always have that choice and that’s a conversation you’ll probably have every time the poor performer comes into you mind or crosses your eye line.
Managing sales performance is a day to day activity, and managing poor sales performance is no difference.
That’s your job. One of the hardest parts!
That’s why managing the solution at speed is vital, so very vital for both parties.
Either way, early intervention is vital.
Performance management shouldn’t be left until the relationship between management and staff is strained or has deteriorated. People can become defensive and uncooperative and these are counter productive responses to what you are trying to achieve.
Managing poor sales performance is a time consuming process, it may or may not work.
I have seen some sales people take upwards of 12 months to reach their full potential.
I have also seen some sales people who should have got better results. They were unable to pull in the sales results required to secure their position. Yet, on moving to another firm have gone on to very highly regarded positions in other sales roles. Roles where they have consistently hit their targets. So, some times we all have to recognise that that fit doesn’t work.
I guess my personal philosophy on the matter is this; Manage sales and commit to doing everything within your power to assist the under performer, however, there is one caveat. If improvements don’t appear, there is no harm in saying good bye, because at that point that’s all that’s left, moreover, it can greatly benefit both parties.
Getting good HR advice is invaluable. AS is good legal advice. Both are part of your solution before any action to dismiss is taken.
If you want some starting points for managing sales performance, one of the easiest places to start is to look at the sales metrics you’re using to manage the team. Available now – download just hit the link for an instant download – The 7 Sales Metrics You Should Measure, Monitor and Manage
Claim your Free Sales Health Check using this link. Simply click through and complete the details. I’ll get back to you within 24 hrs. UK wide.
Managing poor sales performance is key. Simply put, avoiding it won’t make it go away. Plus the sooner you and the business accept that managing poor sales performance is a must do; the greater your options for growth and sales success.