Tag Archive for: productivity

best-sales-strategy

Effective Sales Strategy: Slow Down Your Sellers to Speed Up Sales

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Though it may seem counterintuitive, forcing your salespeople to slow down can help them speed up their closing cycle. The way to do so is to move your team away from the tactical and towards focusing on sales strategy. Creating and pursuing an effective sales strategy will result in increased sales velocity.

Sales Strategy vs. Sales Tactics 

 In my experience as a Fractional VP Sales and sales coach, I’ve seen that most sales training is focused on sales tactics and precious little is focused on creating a sales strategy.

Sales tactics refer to things like structuring a sales interaction, responding to buyer rejection, structuring good questions to ask buyers, and how to present solutions  effectively.

Sales strategy, on the other hand, refers to how to move a sale forward from point A to point B and then to point C. Sales strategy training helps sellers understand a buyer’s decision-making process and then determine the most efficient and effective way to help buyers navigate toward closing a sale.

When a Sales Strategy is Needed 

If your sale is a simple one with a single decision-maker and a low price point, focusing on sales tactics training may be all that’s required. However, any time multiple decision makers are involved, or the ticket price is five figures or beyond, sales strategy creation training is indicated.

Understanding a buyer’s decision-making process is a topic about which many books have been written. All share the common thread of helping sellers understand which buying influencers make which decisions, who influences whom within their organization, and how their decision-making and implementation process plays out.

 How a Sales Coach Can Help 

There are several good reasons to hire a sales coach, and having someone lead your team through creating a sales strategy is one of them. Early on in my role as a sales coach, I worked with sellers conversationally to unravel this ball of yarn. I found it to be very time-consuming and getting to a good sales strategy was tough. 

I’ve since implemented a quick inventory within CRM that sellers are required to fill out for each complex deal before our coaching session. I can read this in just a few minutes prior to each coaching session and then get right down to business with the seller to ensure our time is used effectively. This decreases sales coaching time by 50% and the quality of the sales strategies we create is improved by 100%.

If you don’t currently have a sales strategy creation system like this, I strongly recommend creating one. It has been an absolute game-changer for my clients. If you would like to learn more about it, please feel free to reach out.

 

 

how-to-improve-sales

The F-Word You Need to Improve Sales

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

If you are seeking optimal revenue generation results (and who isn’t?), you need to look carefully at certain aspects of the business. There are a few common red flags to look out for if you want to improve sales but aren’t sure how.

Focus is Crucial to Improve Sales

The main thing to be wary of is job role diffusion and the wasted time that can result from it. Unfocused efforts are a key culprit of poor sales results. For maximum revenue generation results, each of your sales team members should be keenly focused on just a few core tasks. In my role as a Fractional Vice President Sales, there are some classic issues that I see all too often that are red flags for poor sales performance.

Top 4 Red Flags to Look Out for When Trying to Improve Sales

Here are a few telltale signs that you might be hindering your sales instead of increasing them. 

1. You Have a Sales Manager Who Is Selling  

If your sales manager is expected to bring in new customers (which will earn them commissions) along with managing your salespeople, the management part will invariably suffer. This is unsurprising because the temptation of bringing in a new customer is simply more appealing than that of supporting a salesperson looking to be managed. 

If you feel your business is at the point that it needs a dedicated sales manager (and I’ve posted before about how to know when you need a sales manager), then hire one. But don’t have that person perform a dual role. If their main job responsibility is to teach and manage others, then clear their plate of direct selling duties to free them up to focus on that. When it comes to increasing sales, the benefits of hiring an outsourced sales manager are worth considering.

2. Your Salespeople Have Customer Service Responsibilities

When faced with the prospect of bringing on new customers or keeping existing ones, most salespeople will focus on keeping what they have. Even when commissions are at stake, salespeople are more prone to maintaining existing customers with whom they have formed relationships.

Remove this dilemma by relieving your salespeople of their customer retention duties. Turn your customer service department into a customer success department in order to not only retain clients but grow them over time.

3. You Have a Salesperson Focused on Marketing Ideas

If one of your salespeople is continually feeding your marketing team with new marketing ideas, that is a sign that their focus on sales has been lost. Any precious time and brainpower that could have been spent looking for prospects or closing deals has instead been applied to coming up with ideas for another department.

Making sure your people are on what Jim Collins would call the “right seat on the bus” is one way to deal with underperforming sales reps. If you have a seller who is notably marketing-focused, consider moving them over to the marketing department and backfilling their sales position. If they remain a salesperson who would rather be doing marketing tasks, they will underperform compared to their more focused peers.

4. Your Sales Funnel is Filled with Unqualified Opportunities

 Have a look at the sales funnel for each of your salespeople. Are some filled with opportunities that don’t match your ideal customer profile? It can be tempting for salespeople to seek either the elusive home run deal or the small deal that will hopefully grow into something bigger over the years. Or, they may pursue the diamond-in-the-rough deal that will never fulfil their quota.

The salesperson pursuing these types of deals will never make their quota. The large deals take too long to close, and the small ones take too long to ramp up to full revenue for success to occur. Carefully defining your ideal customer will help boost sales by ensuring your salespeople are focused on the right prospects.

Although these red flags are easy to spot once you know what you’re looking for, figuring out how to mitigate and deal with them can be a bit more complicated. If you’d like to learn more about how to boost sales by improving your team’s focus, please contact me.

How to Motivate Your Sales Team: Finding the Why

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

If you want to increase your sales and ultimately grow your business, you need to know how to motivate your sales team. Contrary to what you may think, money may not necessarily be the main driver (at least not for every member of your sales team).

Figuring Out the “Why” is the Key to Motivating Your Sales Team

The secret to understanding how to motivate your sales team is getting to the “why” of how your people operate. This is the deepest motivator and the thing you want to focus on when trying to improve your team’s performance. Learn what the “why” is for each of your salespeople, and your team will prosper.

Your top sales performers may indicate money as their primary motivator, but it is likely not their true number one motivator. In my experience as a Fractional Vice President Sales, the reason money is articulated as such is because it is the safe answer. This is the case because usually the stage has not been set for deeper, more personal (honest) answers to be okay.

Remote and distance working have led to a new kind of team environment. Gone are the days of face-to-face meetings and bumping into colleagues by the espresso machine. Group interactions are now primarily via Zoom and the like. Zoom fatigue has now led to team members leaving the cameras off or simply using the telephone. It’s not surprising, then, that deeper interpersonal communications happen less frequently and to a lesser depth.

Be Intentional About Getting to Know Your Salespeople

It takes considerable effort for a leader to open more personal dialogue with staff with the goal of learning more about them as people. Since chance encounters and over-the-water-cooler chats don’t happen anymore, leaders must be mindful of learning more about their salespeople.

Use Team Meetings as an Opportunity to Learn About Your People

If you as a leader set the tone and create a forum for more openness, then over time your team members will feel comfortable being candid with you. An approach I have found to be very effective is to make it safe for a sales team to share interests they have that are not work-related.

I accomplish this by taking the first 15 minutes of the weekly Zoom sales meeting over the course of a month to share photos and stories of my travels and interests. After that, I ask if anyone else would like to do the same. Invariably there is someone who would like to do so. It’s a great way to get to know people, understand what they are like outside of work, and give insight into the person that we see (or work with) every day. Sometimes I’ve had people ask to share their photos and other information even before I suggest it.

Hold Monthly One-on-One Coaching Sessions 

I schedule at least one full one-on-one coaching session per month with each salesperson to focus on learning how they are doing as people. I ask what stresses they are facing, whether they’re feeling supported at work, and how things are going overall in their life. 

Doing this purposefully over time leads to a comfortable dialogue and relaxed disclosure. It has been my experience that almost everything I see in a person’s behaviour at work and performance is directly tied to what’s going on in their life outside of work. Going slowly with this so as not to make it intrusive builds trust and helps you learn more about how to support that employee.

Encourage a Buddy System

Creating a buddy system within the sales team is very effective for cultivating stronger inside-of-work relationships, even in a remote working arrangement. Often newer staff are hesitant to reach out for help and more tenured staff appear too busy to give it. In the end, no one feels personally engaged. 

The buddy system allows your senior people to share their wisdom and the new people to receive it. Tenured folks learn from the questions new employees ask. Newer employees learn how to get help. It also gives all parties a voice in their ear that is not that of their boss, which gives a broader perspective for problem-solving.

To Find Out How to Motivate Your Sales Team, Ask!

The most overt thing I do to learn about salespeople’s “why” is to simply ask them. I have found it is better to ask this question after doing the things mentioned above for some time. This sets expectations around trust and safety. If asked too early on, you will likely be told what the salesperson thinks you want to hear rather than their own truth.

This approach to getting to know your sales team’s motivations, along with other ways to be a great boss, is sure to set you on the right path to improved revenue. Understanding how to motivate your sales team is a nuanced endeavour. If you would like to discuss how you can do so, please feel free to reach out.

How to Boost Sales by Attracting Ideal Clients Instead of ‘Good Enough’ Clients

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

When you look at your current customer base are you happy with what you see? Or do you find yourself wondering how to boost sales and wishing you had more ideal clients instead of the merely okay clients you currently have? The way to a roster filled with brag-worthy clients is to sharpen your sales team’s focus.

Why Defining Your Ideal Customer Will Help Boost Your Sales

In the start-up phase of your business, any customer willing to pay for your products and services instantly seems like the ideal customer! However, the wisdom that comes as a business matures is that not all revenue is good revenue. Some clients that look ideal at the front end sometimes don’t end up that way.  

For example, that super high-volume client you gave the rock-bottom, low-margin price to who has never quite delivered on the promised volume is one. That client who demands white glove service 24/7 and then takes 105 days to pay their invoice is another.

In my role as a Fractional VP Sales, I counsel my clients to sharpen their Ideal Client Profile so that the sales team knows exactly what they’re hunting for and conversely, what they are not hunting for. Understanding what they are not searching for will decrease the incidence of poor client fit opportunities being brought to the table, therefore making better use of your team’s time.

Elements to Include in Your Ideal Customer Profile

Before focusing on how to boost sales, make sure your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is sharpened to ensure your team is targeting the right people. The classic ICP elements are geographic location, employee headcount, annual revenue, and industry sector. My guess is that you have already identified these obvious ones. Here are a few others to consider.

Distinguish Between Early, Mid-, Late-, and Never Adopters

If you are attempting to sell a new and disruptive technology to a late/never adopter, your sale is going nowhere. A tech client of mine recently came back from a client sales meeting describing their office décor as dark, panelled walls with green shag carpeting.  Needless to say, no sale was made.

If you are selling into a classically staid industry, look for prospect companies  within it that portray an image of being innovative and forward-looking. Web and LinkedIn research will quickly identify who those clients are. Put them at the top of your prospecting list.

Target Growing Companies

Startup companies may be yearning to use your products and services but just don’t have the money to pay yet. Similarly, companies who are experiencing trouble may be the perfect functional fit for your products and services but don’t have cash to spend. Identifying prospects in growth mode will give your team prospects to sell to who not only need what you have to offer but also have the capacity and willingness to pay for it.

Don’t Hyper-Focus on Humongous Corporations

Selling to the Humongous Corp. can be enticing. “If we can get just 2% of their spend, that will make our year!” is something I’ve heard from business owners more than a couple of times. While this may be true, penetrating the fortress that is the Humongous Corp. can be a very long and frustrating process.  

If your path to sales success will be paved with selling to very large corporations, be sure to also sell to some medium and small ones along the way.  These typically close faster and will provide the cash flow required for you to manage your growth curve.

Target Clients Yielding Good Margins

Analyze your current customer base and see which ones generate the best margin-to-volume ratio.  Often it is not the marquee logos on your client list that are the most profitable on a per-unit basis. Growing businesses in the small-to-medium sector may not be glamorous but they can certainly be profitable.

When performing the sales coaching component of my role I have come across a few surprises when it comes to applying the prospecting principle of hunting using the Ideal Client Profile.  If you’d like to learn more about how to boost sales by honing your ICP, please feel free to contact me. I’m always happy to help. [email protected] 

How to Make Easy Money Without Finding New Clients

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Looking for the best way to grow your revenue? It’s a common mistake to assume that means landing new clients. In fact, easy money is yours for the taking if you put some effort into getting new revenue from your existing customers.

In my work as a Fractional VP Sales, I regularly encounter business owners who are so busy trying to find new clients that they forget to mine their existing customer base. Further, in the rush to find those new clients they don’t realize that some of their long-time loyal customers are leaving out the back door.

Unlock Easy Money From Existing Customers

To get new revenue from your current customers, you need a systematic approach to mine your existing customer base methodically over time. Planning your work, and working your plan unlocks this vault of easy money. The tried-and-true “Land and Expand” approach to customer success generates revenue reliably and predictably. 

A client will rarely raise their hand to ask to learn about your entire suite of products and services. As time goes by, it’s unlikely they will stay up to speed on your new product enhancements, additions, and deletions. That’s why it’s important to have your team stay personally connected with your customers – this will present daily opportunities to broaden your service footprint there. 

A Strategy for Expanding Revenue From Current Clients

Email blasts and newsletters are nice, but you only need to look at the low open rates on them to realize that most of your customers aren’t seeing this information. Try this strategy instead…

Segment Your Customer Base and Schedule Regular Meetings

Work with your team to segment your customer base into four tiers (A, B, C, D) based on annual revenue generated. This will give you a clear baseline picture of which clients are contributing what and who could benefit from an expanded suite of products or services.

Then, set a connection cadence for each tier that will dictate how often a team member should reach out to the client. For example, tier A clients are to be personally contacted once a month, B’s every 2 months, C’s every 3 months and D’s every 6 months.

Master the Art of the Customer Business Review

The objective when meeting with these clients is to perform a Customer Business Review (CBR).  During this meeting with the client, your representative will

  • close out on any outstanding customer service issues
  • recommend new products and services that the client would find helpful
  • attempt to get connected to other parties within the buyer’s organization that could use your company’s help

The magic of conducting productive CBR meetings is in the preparation. To close out on any outstanding customer service issues, the person conducting the meeting will need to have researched your CRM to confirm if any exist and whether they were resolved. 

If they are to recommend new products and services, they will need to know exactly which ones are currently being used by the customer, to what degree, and in what application.  They will also need to know ordering patterns, total revenue generated, and payment history. Gathering this information requires access to your accounting software.

To deepen their connection base, your representative will need to understand who the players are they currently deal with and what their roles are. To probe for more applications for your products and services, they will need to strategize where they would like to be connected next.

These new connections may reside within the department you are currently in. On the other hand, they may be in other departments that you don’t currently service but could use your products and services. It may be that instead they are not within your client’s organization but are external to their company. Understanding who your client’s providers are may even lead to net new client acquisition opportunities.

When delivering on the sales coaching part of my consulting role I have worked with clients to help them create and streamline their “Land and Expand” process. As with most things, there are many nuances around this. If you would like to learn more so you can bring in easy money, I am happy to help. Please feel free to reach out at [email protected]

how to improve sales

Clarity in the Sales Function: Effective Ways to Improve Sales Performance

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

From the outside looking in, job role clarity in sales seems like it should be easy. Work with buyers, help them to become clear on their needs, present your products and solutions in a compelling way, and close the deal. Simple, right? In reality, it’s trickier than you might expect. 

A lack of clarity around the specific duties and tasks your salespeople are required to perform leads to undesired behaviours, conflicts within the team, and poor sales results. To ensure great performance and to improve sales, you should focus on maximizing your team’s productivity by providing maximum job role clarity. 

Areas to Create Clarity to Improve Sales

You need to consider several aspects of your sales function when it comes to clarifying team roles. Here are some classic gray areas to watch out for that can throw sand into your sales gears. 

In-Bound Prospects

All inbound prospects are not created equal. Some represent a large revenue generation opportunity. Some have a higher probability of closing quickly. Others present the best opportunity for a long-term relationship with multiple purchases. Within your sales team, who gets which sales leads?

Typically, all net new inbound sales inquiries should go through your business development department or person. This role is typically more junior (and lower paid) and the buyer qualification process is relatively straightforward, so it makes the most sense to have these folks handle them. Save the more complex part of the selling and closing work for your sellers.

Clearly and plainly lay out how inbound leads will be distributed to your sellers. Will it be based on the geographic location of the prospect, their potential revenue size, or their industry vertical? If you have multiple sellers, set up a rotation so that the leads get distributed evenly and all sellers are given equal opportunity to close business. Set up a conflict resolution process so that if there are any sticking points it is clear to all parties how distribution decisions will be made. 

Commissions

This is a very deep and detailed topic, which is why there are so many books written on it. Here are a couple of suggestions to keep in mind. For business development people, only pay a bonus or commission when the lead turns into a paying customer. Giving business development people bonuses based merely on the number of leads forwarded will get you the right number of leads each month but will not ensure you get the right quality.

For salespeople, only pay one person commission per sale. In my role as a Fractional Vice President of Sales, I have seen companies that will pay commissions to multiple parties if one seller helps another. This becomes extremely problematic down the line, especially around the incidence of follow-up. Ultimately duplicate commission is expensive to the organization and can create resentment between salespeople. Avoid it at all costs.

I’ve also seen some companies implement bonuses based on team sales performance. I have yet to see this be anything other than a bonus for the salespeople who don’t work as hard as the top performers. Again, this is expensive, and I have not seen it incentivize the type of behaviour it is trying to reward.

Legacy Prospect Ownership

With commissions on the line, salespeople will hang onto prospects tooth and nail for a surprisingly long time. When a new sales opportunity appears in the sales funnel, it’s not uncommon for another salesperson to claim, “Hey, I spoke with him two years ago – that should be my account!”. 

Set a statute of limitations clearly outlining the stage at which a prospect ceases to belong to a salesperson. Generally, this involves a requirement for meaningful customer interaction on a time-defined basis (e.g. quarterly, annually) that clearly demonstrates the salesperson has put in the work and deserves the lead. 

Legacy Customer Ownership

The same rules outlined above for legacy prospects should apply to legacy customers. Segment your customers into A-B-C-D based on annual revenue generated and review this list once a year. 

Take the D customers who have neither ordered in the last 12 months nor been contacted by sales and return them back to business development. Have them work these small accounts in search of revenue. If they find stray orders, have those be house accounts upon which there is no commission.

If a salesperson loses a D account they have not been working, and then that account places an order, they cannot try to reclaim that account down the road. Working your company’s account base in this way ensures that all past customers are given a chance to generate new revenue.

CRM Compliance

Make CRM compliance a job role requirement. It should be tied to quarterly and annual performance reviews and measured as stringently as revenue generation is for job retention. Lack of CRM compliance ties the hands of virtually every stakeholder in your company that deals with customers. Sales must be the keeper of CRM data integrity.  

These are the crucial areas to consider when creating clarity in your sales function. If you’d like to improve sales by implementing these ideas across your company, contact me to learn how I can help.

Helping Potential Buyers Navigate the Consumer Decision-Making Process

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Many people believe that sales is the art of persuasion. This isn’t true. More accurately, it is the art of helping a potential buyer move forward in the consumer decision-making process. If the seller is persuading a would-be customer to do this, then they are pushing, not selling by helping

If you want to win loyal customers for life, the way to achieve that is by being genuinely helpful, not pushy. Do this by helping would-be buyers move forward through the stages of the consumer decision-making process.

Stages of the Consumer Decision-Making Process

‘Moving a buyer forward’ in sales can mean many things. It may refer to scheduling another meeting, an agreement to bring other relevant decision-makers to the table or granting an audience with the CEO. Whatever form it comes in, forward movement helps the buyer move toward being helped by your firm to solve a problem they have.

When it comes to purchasing decisions, buyers need to move from the Interested Stage to the Want Stage, and finally to the Need Stage.

The Interested Stage

This is where most sales start. At this stage, a buyer has some curiosity about how your products or services might be able to help them. 

The early Interest Stage is typified by buyers doing online research to learn about the product and service options which exist that may help them solve a problem. It is possible to lose buyers at this stage. However, in the current sales environment there is plenty of empirical evidence to show that website content and configuration can effectively draw buyers in and hold their attention. If your company is not successful in doing this, have a look at your web design and digital marketing fundamentals. 

The late Interest Stage is where your front-line sales team comes in. By this point, potential buyers have narrowed down their options to a list between two and four and are trying to get down to the one or two that are the best fit. Arm your team with value-based sales questions to help guide the buyer through this stage. These questions should help in understanding three things:

  • the buyer’s current state
  • their problems and pain points
  • their vision of what an improved situation will look like for them (their gains)

Working through these questions helps them clarify where they are, why they are stuck and where they want to get to. Having this clear in their mind sets the stage for your sales team to help them forward. 

 The most efficient deployment of resources for a company is to have lower-paid business development staff fielding inbound inquiries. Given the conversion rate from bona fide inquiry to next-stage conversation is typically somewhere between 25 and 50 percent, having a high-priced salesperson field these inquiries is not an efficient use of resources. This salesperson’s efforts would be better spent helping later-stage buyers and closing deals. Have a clear process map that identifies the exact point at which the business development person should hand off the buyer to the salesperson.

The Want Stage

Potential buyers in the Want Stage have whittled down their choices and are deciding between one or two options (maybe three). This is where you want your seasoned salespeople to take over.

In this stage, more technical questions will arise that will need detailed answers to carry them forward in their decision-making process. This complexity requires strong product knowledge and feature application expertise on the part of your sellers.

The Need Stage

At this point, the buyer is down to one or two options and wants to firmly decide on the best one for their needs. It is crucial to use values-based questions in this part of the sale to help buyers make their decision.

Work with them to recognize the value in business terms that they will get from choosing your company. Go a step further and quantify that value to help them understand the business case for choosing you. This means being aware of the potential positive impact on their top line, middle line, and bottom line will help make your case in terms of dollars and cents. Being able to highlight the positive impact your product or service could have on their processes by saving time and simplifying will further cement that going with your company is the best option.

The Interest-Want-Need path of the consumer decision-making process is universal. However, each industry comes with its specific considerations. Work with both your marketing and sales teams to inventory this flow so that you can set up your new customer acquisition systems to map to it in the most effective way possible.

Regardless of the industry, selling by helping starts with having a genuine conversation with your potential buyers. I outline how to master the conversational sales method in my book, Sell More by Selling Less. This method, combined with the tips discussed above, will help you beat your sales targets predictably.

As with all things sales, there is a great deal of nuance around how to navigate the Interest-Want-Need path for your company. If you’d like some help thinking through how this applies to your business, feel free to contact me.

How to Deepen and Broaden Your Customer Relationships

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Often in sales, you communicate with one individual within the buyer’s organization to get deals done. But if any of your client relationships hinge on a single point of contact at the firm, you’re putting your business at risk. In this scenario, you are in an unstable arrangement; one wrong move and that customer (and all the associated revenue) goes away. That’s why you need to build a strong network of customer relationships within your current client base to future-proof your business.

3 Wide and 3 Deep: A Model for Expanding Customer Relationships

When you have a 3 wide and 3 deep contact network [three contacts within each of three different departments] for each client, you can rest easy knowing you have stable business. This way if a key decision-maker leaves the company, you still have two other contacts to fall back on as you build a relationship with the incumbent. The bonus is that if one of those contacts gets promoted, your company goes along for the ride with them. If you have a great customer relationship with the contact who is leaving, you may even get introduced to a potential new client at their new company.

Deepening the connection within your client’s company is one part of the equation. The other is to deepen their connection with your company. Having multiple people from your company connected to multiple people within the buyer’s company allows for greater communication and bridge-building. 

These two things are the currency of excellent customer relationships. Cultivating multiple connections means that if one of your salespeople leaves, taking clients with them will be much more difficult.  The rule of thumb here is that the primary relationship should be company to company, rather than salesperson to buyer.

How to Ensure a 3 Wide and 3 Deep Contact Network With Your Clients

Sometimes achieving a 3 wide and 3 deep contact network with a client happens organically over the years. As with all things business development, relying on an organic process or the passage of time is not a prudent way to deepen your client contact base.  In my role as a Fractional VP Sales, it’s been my experience that purposeful connection building is the most efficient and effective path to positively influencing client retention. So how then do you increase the client connections?

Have Your Primary Contact Introduce You to Others in the Company

Adding client connections can be done by having your main contact escort you up or down the organizational chart or to departments other than the one you typically work with to establish new customer relationships.

If you and your clients are regularly conducting business, then opportunities to meet other people within their organization will come about regularly. When a client contact says, “Let me speak to my boss/counterpart”, take the opportunity to suggest a meeting for the three of you instead. This type of interaction will not only facilitate contact-creating opportunities but also likely help spur decision-making around the issue at hand and get to the next steps more smoothly.

Schedule Regular Customer Business Review Meetings

If you don’t interact with your client connections as a daily course of doing business, then instituting regular Customer Business Review meetings with your large and medium clients is a good way to facilitate introductions and new customer relationships. 

Suggesting “Senior Executive-to-Senior Executive” meetings brings people together who otherwise might not have an occasion to meet. Such interactions invariably lead to the discovery of synergies and new and better ways to work together.

Leverage Your Current Customer Relationships to Make New Connections

Asking current customers for connections to their suppliers is another way to deepen your Rolodex. If you have a trusted relationship, your client will likely be open to making such a connection. If you have a long-standing and trusted relationship, your client might even introduce you to their customers.

Discussing how to establish 3 wide and 3 deep connections is something I do regularly in my role as a sales coach. As with all things, there is a great deal of nuance around building a more stable client base. Feel free to reach out at [email protected] if you would like to discuss your situation and the specifics of how to implement this in your business.

Cracking the Code for How to Increase Sales

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

I recently came across the most simple and elegant formula I’ve ever encountered that cracks the elusive code of increasing the revenue that you as a business owner can generate from the total of your team’s marketing, sales, and business development efforts.

I encountered this in Timothy Gallwey’s excellent book The Inner Game of Work (the entire Inner Game Series is excellent and well worth your time).

An adaption of his formula for improving work performance applied to sales and revenue generation looks something like this:

Sales Performance = sales potential minus sales inhibitors

Here’s how this applies in the real world from my perspective as a B2B Fractional VP of Sales…

To Increase Sales, You Must First Understand Your Sales Performance

Leadership must clearly define the specifics of sales performance so that the team knows exactly what productivity level (and in which KPIs) needs to be achieved. Given that Revenue Generated is a lagging indicator (it reflects what has already happened), you also need Leading Indicators (projections of what is likely to happen).

The classic trap is to not have Sales Activity and Results leading indicator KPIs in place. When this is the case, leadership can’t confirm on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis what direction the sales ship is going in and at what speed.

Your sales activity leading indicator KPIs should include:

  • # of Sales Leads in your sales funnel at any given time
  • # of Sales Leads that have been contacted by your business development folks
  • # of buyer-facing sales meetings conducted each week
  • # of buyer-facing sales meetings scheduled for the upcoming weeks
  • # of viable sales opportunities and corresponding revenue in the deal funnel

Looking at this list of leading indicator KPIs, it’s easy to see that predicting your incoming revenue reliably and predictably is possible if you’ve enacted them. All of these are the things that cause sales to happen. If by week one or two of the month, these KPIs are trending down, you will likely have a dry spell coming up but will still have time to course correct.

Working with your team to ensure that they keep the pace on hitting these KPIs is a continual coaching and training endeavour that has a direct ROI when followed diligently.

The key lagging indicator, Revenue Generated, needs to be clearly articulated as well. What is the revenue required by a sales professional, in what time period, and at what margin for each product? Clarity here will help ensure that your sales team is focused on generating the type of results that will keep your business healthy and poised for increasing sales and growth.

Consider Your Team’s Sales Potential to Increase Sales

Think of your top sales performer who regularly overachieves on their sales plan. Imagine if you could hire a few more folks who are dialled up just like they are—how great life would be! When building your team, hire wisely (for more information on how to do so click here.)

If you have a legacy team, sales potential can be assessed by looking at past performance and putting that beside the traits and characteristics your salespeople possess. This will allow you to determine if they have what it takes to be successful in selling within your market.

The reason for looking at both sides of this equation is that a person who performed poorly in the past may simply need some help getting unstuck to unlock their sales ability.

Be Aware of Sales Inhibitors That Prevent You From Increasing Sales

Things that get in the way of revenue generation success for a salesperson can be either internal or external.

Internal Sales Inhibitors

Internal inhibitors include things like mindset, an adequate knowledge base (both in product and sales approach), and the skill to apply all of this.

The salesperson whose mindset is to take it personally when a buyer says “no” to them will never succeed. They will drown in their bad feelings.

The salesperson whose mindset is “I can’t sell because of [insert external force acting upon them here],” will also never succeed. It’s rare that the stars align, market conditions are ideal, competitive pressure is low, and your company is operating like a well-oiled machine. The best salespeople adapt and deal with adversity effectively rather than looking for excuses for poor performance.

External Sales Inhibitors

External sales inhibitors are things in your company that are getting in the way of selling that you can change. Things that get in the way of selling include:

  • Unclear sales goals
  • A lack of sales coaching
  • Overly complex sales compensation plans
  • Production plans not matched to sales plans
  • Administrative processes that make setting up new customers and placing of orders onerous

Most often these are the types of things that business owners can control or highly influence to find a solution. At your company, determining what these issues might be is as simple as asking your sales team. It’s my guess they will respond loudly and quickly when asked, “What types of things do we need to fix in order to make closing of sales easier for you?”.

Applying the Formula to Increase Sales

Assess your sales team and grade each seller on their Sales Potential.  The simplest way to do this is to take an inventory of the traits and characteristics of your best salespeople and measure all others against this standard. There are also many paid inventories out there that can help you.

This assessment will tell you whether or not you have the team in place that can achieve the revenue generation success required to take your business to the next level. It may be that you have the raw material for success but require some process optimization and training to bring the best out of your folks.

On the other hand, it might be that you have the wrong people in the sales seats on your bus. If that’s the case, you can then strategize appropriately how to get the right people in. Then, ask a question of your sales team about what roadblocks to selling exist.

Inventory those, set them up and knock them down one by one by addressing and resolving them. This will likely involve multiple stakeholders across multiple departments, and (sadly) not be a fast process. It will, however, definitely be worth the time and effort when it ultimately helps you improve revenue generation.

As with all things, there is nuance to cracking the code of how to increase sales. If you would like to chat about this further, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Chasing the Mega Deal: How to Know When a Huge Sales Opportunity is Worth Pursuing

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Every business owner dreams about the mega sales deal that will make their year for them. It seems that these opportunities appear with some regularity, but they are not an easy fish to catch. The bigger the deal, the more the complexity, and the higher the competitive presence and downward pressure on pricing.

As such, they are less likely to fit nicely into the box that is your suite of products and services. Given their sheer magnitude they are the shiniest of shiny objects (and I’ve explained before about why chasing shiny objects isn’t a great approach to sales). In my work as a B2B Fractional VP of Sales, I counsel my clients to proceed with caution when a mega deal presents itself. Here’s why.

Why Think Twice Before Pursuing a Massive Sales Opportunity?

It’s been my experience that the complexity of mega deals requires a significant amount of upfront data-gathering, analysis, and implementation planning. Not to mention the time required to answer the myriad questions of the potential mega client and prepare formal responses and submissions.

The thing with time is that it’s a finite resource. Once it’s used up, it’s gone. Also, time put into one task means it cannot be put into another. If sales resources are limited and significant time is spent on large, complex deals that might not fit into your box, that time cannot be spent by your sales team looking for other deals that may fit readily into your programs and scale nicely in the future.

The downward pressure on prices and margins is to be strongly considered. The potential, of say, doubling your annual revenue is certainly alluring. However, if it costs you $1.05 to service every $1.00 of the new business then it’s significantly less appealing.

This is not to say that mega deals are not ever worth pursuing. Winning them can be a game-changer. It is to say, however, that careful consideration should be given to whether or not pursuing a huge sales opportunity will be a profitable venture and worth the considerable time and effort required to go after it. Just because you can pursue it, does not necessarily mean that you should.

5 Questions to Determine Whether a Mega Sales Opportunity Is Worth It 

Here are some questions you can ask your sales team to determine whether it makes sense to pursue a mega opportunity in front of you:

  1. What is the effort estimate (in hours) for how long it would take to source, interview, narrow down, and select any special partners/suppliers/required new staff/machinery/resources to deliver on this deal, should you win it?

If large and complex deals don’t fit within your current suite of products and services, you may need to tool up and bring on partners and suppliers to help in doing so. Consider all the moving parts and put together your estimate of how much time would take to do so.

  1. What is the effort estimate (in hours) of how long it would take to work out the logistics of implementing and rolling out the project?

It may be that this mega sales opportunity stretches your resources and requires your team to do new things, or old things in new ways. What level of planning is required to meet the demands?

  1. What is the effort estimate (in hours) of how long it would take to prepare the bid/application and other paperwork?

Often these large projects are part of an RFP-bid process. Yours may be governmentally related. Often there is detailed documentation that must be responded to or submitted to be considered as a supplier. Scope this out to determine how much time it will take your team.

  1. What is the realistic/conservative revenue and profit margin related to this mega deal?

Calculate this monthly, quarterly, and annually. If you need to procure materials and partners and pay for them upfront, don’t forget to include that when you’re crunching your numbers.

  1. What is the realistic (conservative) percent chance you have of winning this deal?

Be brutally honest here. If this sales opportunity is large there are likely many competitors who are well-positioned (maybe more so than your company) to win the bid.

Answering these questions will help you understand the time and resource commitment required up front to put in a serious bid for the work. If you have the team, time, and resources to commit to preparing and submitting the bid, and your chances of winning are reasonable, then proceeding would make sense.

If going after a mega sales opportunity would drown your team and pull them away from servicing existing customers and finding new ones that fit nicely into your suite of products and services, maybe proceeding does not make sense.

As with all things, there’s a great deal of nuance involved in applying the principles noted above. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected].