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Will Your Sales Approach Support Your Growth Goals?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

How much revenue will your sales team close 90 days from now? If you can’t answer this question with any level of confidence you are not alone. Many leaders I chat with struggle to predict their sales team’s revenue even 30 days out. If you aren’t all over tracking your leading sales indicators, it’s next to impossible to know if how your team is selling will sustain your business’s growth goals. By rigorously measuring the rate at which those “things that cause sales to happen” occur you will quickly get to reliable forecasting and an optimized sales process.

Off the hop let me identify the magic ingredient that makes any dashboarding work - rigour. Sounds almost redundant but I bring up rigor because its the number one challenge in implementing and leveraging dashboards. If your data is inaccurate or incomplete due to lack of rigour you will make poor decisions based on what your dashboards are telling you.

To clarify rigour, I mean accurate recording by your team of their sales activities every day, as they perform them. No “I’ll wait until Friday afternoon to enter in all my CRM stuff” approaches allowed. Who has the energy on a Friday afternoon to enter a whole week’s worth of sales activity micro-data? No one, that’s who!

Moving on, here are the core sales activities that will serve as your leading indicators.

Diagnosis Meetings: Interactions with Sales Leads, the purpose of which is to Diagnose their Pains and determine if they are a Viable Sales Opportunity.  Not enough of these each week means a dry sales funnel in no time.

Demo Meetings: Meetings with Viable Sales Opportunities to demonstrate your product or service. Not enough of these weekly leads to a longer closing cycle as buyers often need to see what your product can do before saying yes to paying for it.

Solution Meetings: Interactions with Viable Sales Opportunities, the purpose of which is to finalize the version of your solution they’d like and allow you to solidify price.

Number of Proposals Presented: This value of this one’s pretty obvious.

As far as the goal quantity for each of the above, that varies widely from industry to industry and product/service to product/service. Generally, lower price point sales that are decided upon by a single buying influence require many more of each interaction type per week than high priced multi-buying influence ones.

The thing about sales activity goals is this – have one, for each activity. Work with your team to a) decide which things that cause sales to happen at your company should be measured, b) set the bar, c) adjust it over time until you discover the optimal amount of each activity required for reps to hit sales target. This continual optimization process is the path to confidence that your current sales process will support reaching your business’s growth goals.

An Otherwise Good Walk Ruined

Saturday, September 01, 2018

There is an old saying that goes, “golf is an otherwise good walk ruined”, referring to the frustrations inherent in trying to get that darned little white ball into the hole.  Achieving revenue growth may not always happen as quickly as we’d like, but it should not feel as frustrating as golf often feels.

Are you frustrated with your rate of revenue growth? If yes, below are some common causes of Revenue Generation Frustration and how to mitigate them.

You:  Business Owner & Sales Manager

Do you have a solid sales pedigree? If not, running even a small department can be challenging. Time ticks by and sales results don’t come.

If you are not a sales management expert, find a resource and get this task off your plate and onto theirs. Doing so is all upside – you lighten your load and have more time to do the stuff you love, such as leading the company into the future rather than being stuck in the sales weeds.

You: Abdicator

More dangerous than managing a function you aren’t an expert in, is not manage it at all. You just let your sales folks loose with a cell phone, laptop and gas card and wait for the sales revenue to come rolling in. This generally always fails.  Invariably results are tepid and when you finally dig in you find you are down 6 months sales salary and your revenue future looks pretty grim.

The sales function requires daily monitoring to assess what course corrections are required for success in the ever-changing business landscape.  See the advice in the paragraph above for how to fix this.

Low ROI

Your sales department should be self-funding. Salespeople should be generating between 3x to 5x their salary [depending on your margins] to be paying for themselves.

Take a good hard look and determine if your sales team is covering their costs. Factor in all costs related acquiring deals. There can be many reasons why they may be falling short [the comp plan is wrong, quotas aren’t right, headcount is too high, Lead Generation is too light]. Once you learn the underlying causes the fixes will be readily apparent.

No Leading Indicators

If your main sales success measures are primarily lagging ones [revenue generated, new implementations] you’ll continually be running behind.  Switch to frequent measurement – think daily, weekly, monthly – of those things that cause sales to happen.

A few to look at are:

a)       Pipeline Creation Rate: How many viable sales leads have been generated
b)      Number of Sales Calls conducted
c)       Number of Demos conducted

Identify your leading indicators and be rigorous in tracking them.

Flying Blind – No Dashboards

The value in measuring lies in using the data toward continuous improvement. Share the dashboards at minimum with the salespeople individually and review them together for coaching purposes.

Work together to determine what the numbers are indicating and what activity adjustments could/should be made to improve results. Depending on your appetite for a competitive sales environment you may share all results with the entire team.

No Recipe for Success

The number one cause of feelings of Rev Gen Frustration is a lack of a defined sales process. If no sales roadmap exists, the team may find their way more often than not, but it will be a continual struggle. This leads to lots of bad stuff [sales goals aren’t hit; commission payouts are low, and staff quit].

Hunker down with your sales team in a boardroom and capture a) your customer’s buying process and then b) your process to help them buy from you. This is the ultimate Rev Gen Frustration reducer.

Revenue Growth Hacking

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Every company wants massive growth, like now! I’ve worked with over 100 companies and here is a list of the top growth hacks [in order of importance] I have seen that actually work.


Staff Up – the top reason companies fail to achieve the hockey-stick-graph-growth is they don’t have enough dedicated staff selling all day, every day. Dual sales & service roles diminish the focus on new revenue acquisition.  Hire more sales bodies now. If paying for extra salaries is onerous, scour the landscape and you will likely find either free or matching money to help get interns, or the like, manning a desk at your office.

Divide and Conquer – the sales job consists of several discreet tasks. a) finding leads and nurturing them; b) reaching out to them and scheduling an appointment to talk; c) moving them through the sales process to closure; and d) on-boarding those new customers and up-selling them. At minimum, have one Biz Dev person filling the top of the sales funnel, a Sales person closing them and a Customer Success person on-boarding them. Reengage sales to up-sell when appropriate.

Automate Your Sales – it’s mind-bending how many intuitive tools are available to automate every step of the sales process. Map out your process, then Google “what’s the best app for automating the [insert sales micro-function here] part of your sale?”. Pick your sales stack components, turn the key and fire it up.

Configure Your CRM – bake your sales methodology, language and processes right into your CRM. This is the ultimate scaling growth hack. When your CRM is your sales process, training a new hire on one aspect immediately trains them on the other. CEO’s love the revenue growth that follows.

Stomp on the Sales Gas Pedal Now – if you don't have a robust Sales Staffing and Process & Tools infrastructure plan, create one asap.   You can't build a thriving business on a non-existent or shaky foundation.

You will definitely have to iterate to optimize all of your systems as you grow, so prepare to iterate over time to iron out the kinks. This way, when your revenue grows, your systems can scale with it.

Five Ways to Boost Sales Productivity

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Even sales people who don’t have a service or project management component to their role wrestle daily with boosting sales productivity. The magic to maximizing sales productivity lies in being ruthless with your time. Here are five ways you can sharpen your focus and get a strong ROI on your sales time and effort.

Live in Your CRM – I routinely see sales people that, despite having a CRM tool provided to them, don’t use it. To me that’s like building a house and saying “thanks for the compressed air nail gun, but I’ll just stick to my trusty old hammer.” Sure, you can still build that house but it will be a much slower [and painful] process. CRM is the first software top sales producers open in the morning and it’s the last one they close at night. They update it real-time as they work on their deals. Doing so allows them to shorten the time it takes to pick up the thread on each deal, create a well thought out strategy around how to progress it, plan for a productive sales meeting and then hold it.

Score Your Sales Opportunities – Time spent working on low probability deals is time you can’t invest in high probability ones. I’ve created a simple yet highly effective scoring method that my clients use to score their deals. The score tells them what information they have about each deal, which information they don’t and what to do about it. Create a deal scoring process to apply to your sales opportunities. Use what it tells you to determine which deals have the highest probability of becoming closes and invest your selling time accordingly.

Activate One New Sales Opportunity Daily – All sellers know an empty sales funnel is a dismal sight. Filling it is the heavy lifting of sales work and can be a slow process. If left to run dry, filling it becomes an urgent activity that eats a ton of time and causes your schedule to back up. Activate [reach out in an attempt to book a meeting with] at least one net new sales opportunity every day. That’s 5 per week, 20 per month…you get the math. Taking this approach will spread out the time this task takes over days and weeks, and keeps your revenue production evergreen.

Honor Prime Selling Time – When their buyers are available is when great sellers sell. Sounds obvious, right? Outside sales people who “take five minutes” to pop into the store, or Inside sellers who “take five minutes” to find a good roofer on the web during the work day erode their sales productivity [BTW, we know these seemingly small activities rarely take five minutes]. Discipline is not easy. Sell when it’s time to sell, and slot the other stuff into non-prime selling time hours. Within one week an appreciable increase in productivity will be seen.

Don’t Do Trade Shows – I know I’ll get lots of pushback on this one. Trade shows are huge time – and money – eaters. Unless the show is one where the express purpose is to book orders, don’t go. Pay the attendee walk-in fee and get the attendee list instead. You can gain far more meaningful traction toward reaching your sales goals from your desk [using the trade show attendees’ list] than you can from walking the show. This is not my opinion – this is what my clients have told me. If you just need some time out of the office, take a few vacation days instead.

Think you or your team could be more productive but feel stuck as to how to get there? I’d be happy to help with ideas and suggestions [at no charge, just to help out…]. Feel free to contact me at rob@robmalec.com.


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