It’s the Sales Leader’s job to predict the company’s revenue future. Accurate predictions make it easier it to run the business and plan for its future. The leader must know how much the team will sell, who they will sell it to, and when will they sell it. To more accurately predict your sales results master the science of generating sales.
Achieving such mastery is a team effort. All must commit to study what generates a sale at your company, in your industry, and in your market. Only by first auditing this process can work then begin to make it turn more effectively and efficiently.
Significant Sales Activities
The sales production process is composed of many Significant Sales Activities [SSA’s]. These are the things done by your sales team that cause a sale to happen. To most accurately predict sales production, start measuring your SSA’s. A few SSA’s to measure weekly are…
Contacts with sales leads: This activity fills the top of your sales funnel. Watch this indicator closely. It is the first one to drop when things get busy. A decrease in activity here leads to fewer sales to close later.
Sales meetings with buyers [in person or via telephone]: These interactions move your qualified leads through the funnel towards closure. A subtle drop in sales meetings this week leads to a measurable decrease in revenue produced the next month. Keep the pace here.
Sales Closed: On the surface this appears to be a lagging indicator of sales effectiveness. When measured with greater frequency however [daily or weekly vs. monthly], it clearly predicts trends and becomes a leading indicator of revenue goal attainment.
Speak to your sales team and identify which SSA’s contribute most significantly to causing a sale to happen. Rank them in priority from most important to least. Next, ask your sales team to record how many of them they do each week. After four to six weeks you will have a good baseline measure of how much of each SSA is required to maintain your current rate of revenue production.
With your SSA baseline established you can now begin to shift the levels of each activity either up or down in an attempt to produce more revenue. This sales process optimization will be ongoing as your business landscape will shift and change over time.
A common challenge in initiating SSA data reporting – especially when it has traditionally not been done before – is salesperson resistance. Resistance is defined as any deliberate action, or inaction, that runs counter to achieving a stated goal.
Resistance might sound like “I don’t want you measuring my weekly activities. That’s micro management!” Or, “I have enough reports to complete as it is.” Or late submission of reports, incomplete data, or both.
The root cause of salesperson resistance is often fear of the unknown. Understandably, questions arise in their minds like “We’ve never done this before. Why do you really want this data? Is it going to be used against me some how?”
A few simple steps to effectively deal with resistance are:
Anticipate It: Understand that change is hard for people. Ask yourself, “knowing my sales team as I do what underlying concerns might they have?” Prepare questions to uncover those concerns. Prepare how you will respond to each anticipated concern.
Be Transparent: People don’t do well with ‘grey’. Be open and honest around the how, what, and why’s of the SSA measurement initiative.
Involve Them Deeply: This gives them insight into the process and a clear understanding of the importance of optimizing the sales process.
Communicate the Value: Sales people who sell using an optimized sales process make more money. Their job is easier. It becomes more fun and fulfilling. Engage your team in discussions about these positive outcomes
The path to predictably hitting your revenue goals is always challenging, but can be made more predictable with this straightforward approach to sales process optimization.