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5 Reasons Blog

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.

Measure These Things Now

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

With the ubiquity of CRM sales has become like baseball — you can measure your stats six ways to Sunday. The trouble is, some people do! Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. There are but a few things you need to measure to predict your sales future.

Sales is an efficiency and effectiveness game. How much of something do you need to do, and how well do you need to do it to reach your sales quota? Let’s start with the efficiency, or ‘how much’ part.

Measure the number of sales interactions [conversations, the primary focus of which is to move a deal forward. Customer service calls don’t count] executed by your team daily and weekly. Sales interactions are the number one thing for most businesses that cause sales to happen. They are a leading indicator to future revenue generation results.

A quick word about salespeople who don't want their activities measured. Any resistance you get to weekly sales activity reporting that smells like “that’s a waste of my time” is grounds for a serious conversation. Would your production department balk at measuring their inputs? Of course not, that would be ludicrous. Sales people are in production, they produce sales. You need to know the typical inputs required in your market and industry and geographic location to generate a sale. This is the only way you can embark down the sales process/results improvement road.

Okay, so back to measuring… In only a few weeks you’ll quickly see trends around who is having how many meetings, and can then connect that to the revenue those efforts produce. Use the data to discover what the magic activity levels need to be on a per rep basis and set these as your benchmark. Manage to these benchmarks.

Shifting now to the sales funnel… When it comes to sales funnel measures, most managers and reps work from the end of the sales funnel backwards. They measure the number of closes this week, how many proposals went out the door, etc. The most successful teams I’ve worked with do the opposite. They measure from the very front end of the sales funnel forward. Interesting.

Early stage sales funnel work [finding leads, contacting them, trying like crazy to secure meetings] is the grunt work of selling that most sales people do willingly only when pressed. Sure, they will lilly dip along the way but they’ll only apply nose to sales grindstone when their sales funnel is dry. These folks experience sales peaks [Hurray!!] and dreaded sales valleys [Booo!!] for this reason. Those in the know track their early stage selling activity daily-weekly. They never, ever lose sight of the fact that sales seeds they plant today can take awhile to take root so they sow every day.

Start with measuring Net New Sales Lead Acquisition. How many raw names have been added to the master list this week of sales leads to reach out to? The optimal number is of course based on your product, industry and sales cycle. Generally, the shorter the sales cycle and simpler the sale the more raw leads you need weekly.

Next, measure the number of Sales Leads Researched per week. This is the number of raw sales leads for whom their website, Linkedin and other social media have been scraped to determine if they might be a fit for your products and services. Note – I consider new leads acquired and then researched as being above the sales funnel. They are so raw you simply can’t assign any probability around the amount of revenue they might generate.

Following the research stage is Sales Leads Activated per week. Now we are into the sales funnel. Activation means you have reached out directly [voice or email] in an attempt to book a meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to conduct a diagnosis to determine if your products and services can be of help to them. Bear in mind that it might take several attempts to reach a potential customer. So, each week you’ll need to activate new opportunities as well as reach out to those from last week [and the weeks before] that have not responded.

To stay on top of this, track the Number Of Connection Attempts Per Activated Sales Lead. Now you are going to start measuring sales effectiveness. These days everyone gets either their email, voice mail, or both, regularly. If they are not responding there’s usually a good reason for it. The rule of thumb is if after 3 connection attempts there has been no response you should either try a new tactic or jettison that lead and move on.

Successful lead activations lead to Diagnosis Meetings. These are golden. Measure them actively. Then measure how many convert into viable sales Prospects. The higher the conversion rate, the better. A low conversion rate might mean you are selecting the wrong leads to call on in the first place.

Look at all of the above measures and assess the following: 

a) are the results good or bad?

b) if good, why are they good and what can you replicate to get better?

c) if bad, why are they bad and what’s the fix?

d) decide how you’ll implement fixes and optimizations and stick to it going forward.

Getting to great at early funnel stage work is the road to having more revenue pop out the other end reliably and predictably. Measure, optimize, do, repeat. That’s the magic.

Like what you’ve read here? Totally disagree? I’d love to hear from you either way at rob@robmalec.com

How to Eliminate Sales Peaks and Valleys

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“OMG, my sales funnel is bone dry!!” 

Panic sets in.  You sell like crazy, get some sales traction and start nursing your new found opportunities to closure.  You focus on nothing else for weeks.  A few of them close.  Champagne corks pop and commissions are calculated.  Finally, you pause for breath and look at your CRM. 

“OMG, my sales funnel is bone dry... again!”

The sales rollercoaster is the number one selling Pain chosen in a recent survey of my blog readers.  The peaks of the ride are a blast, but the valleys totally suck.  There is, however, a way to tame this 5 ticket ride and carve a path to steady, reliable and predictable revenue.

Here’s the thing – every sales person knows about the rollercoaster.  Strangely, they seem to readily allow themselves to climb on board.  They know if they get so busy closing business [or implementing new deals] and stop prospecting for net new customers their sales funnel will run dry, yet they repeatedly make this fundamental mistake.  How come?

I think it’s the dopamine effect.  Dopamine is the chemical in your body behind the feel good rush [pleasure] you get doing whatever your favorite thing is.  For sales people, the mere thought of closing business feels good. Closing sales feels even better – hello dopamine! 

Contrast this with the grunt work behind finding brand new clients.  Cold calling [lots of rejection], endless web research [boring!] and completing CRM fields [mind numbing] is super low on the dopamine producing scale.  It’s no wonder many sellers gravitate away from Prospecting.

To keep the dopamine flowing and get off the roller coaster, try some of these road tested and proven methods to minimize the valleys of the ride...

Hire someone else to do the heavy lifting prospecting work for you:  This one is road tested by me personally.  There is a market of highly qualified virtual assistants today that did not exist even 5 years ago.  Select one and pay them to do the part[s] of the prospecting process you don’t enjoy, are too busy to do or are just no good at.  Have this work done while you are busy closing your current sales opportunities.  When you are done with them, there will be fresh opportunities to close.  This investment will put money in their pocket, hours back into your day, and new prospects into your sales funnel.  It’s a win – win!

Set and keep a 45-minute appointment with yourself every day:  For most sellers 45 minutes a day focused on acquiring net new sales opportunities, will more than meet their sales productivity needs.  Imagine, 240 [or so] focused prospecting sessions a year!  The secret[s]?  First, find the 45 minutes.  Even if you are quite time efficient my bet is you can tighten up here and there and create this golden chunk of time.  Second, be focused [no personal phoning, texting, Facebook, inbound email alerts, etc] when prospecting.  Third, use CRM to record your work religiously.  This will allow you to get productive the first few minutes of your session and not burn time getting organized. 

Set and measure your prospecting productivity goals:  Something like “Each week I will generate a total of ‘X’ number of net new prospects” will do.  Next, tell someone else about your goal.  Sharing goals has a way of cementing them in our minds, and firming our resolve to meet them. 

Refine your prospecting methods:  Cold calling is dead.  If you are still performing this soul sucking task you need to stop... Now!  Search your favorite book store and select a book that will teach you how to get your prospecting into this millennium.  There are many more effective, efficient and enjoyable ways to find your next big client than cold calling.  Hint...it’s called social media.

With just a little discipline and stick-to-it ‘ness you can get off the sales rollercoaster.  If you adopt any of the above strategies my prediction is you will flatten the peaks and valleys, make more money, and have a great time doing so.  Have fun!


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