10. August 2012 11:40
As a principal of your organization, you clearly understand the importance of sales in the organization. You are wearing too many hats to play sales manager, as well, but do you really know how they are doing? If they aren’t hitting their revenue goals, do you know why? Is it a viable reason? Do they have a battle plan to change that?You have two challenges when your sales force prepares for battle:Challenge No. 1Like any kind of warfare, you have a distinct advantage when you can tap good and reliable intelligence. Here’s the problem: Your salespeople don’t get enough accurate intelligence about their prospects. As a result, their pipelines are filled with flaky opportunities. And your sales managers don’t have enough guts to call them on it.Here’s the litmus test: When your salespeople submit their forecasts, do you or your managers “adjust” them down for realism? It’s typically easier for salespeople and their managers to discuss why they didn’t win business, instead of asking themselves the right questions before going to battle.Here are some of the right questions:1. Can we win and should we pursue this opportunity?2. If yes, how do you know? What is the reasoning? A guess? A hunch?3. Which strategy should we adopt to ensure that we win? Why?To begin, ask your salespeople: “How much does it cost to win a new account?” Calculate the actual costs associated with generating a lead, a contact, an appointment, a proposal and a sale. Now, add in the opportunity cost of missed business they could have won if they weren’t wasting time on business that won’t close quickly.If you’re like most selling organizations, the cost per pursuit is several hundred or thousands of dollars. Multiply that by the number of opportunities you chased and didn’t close in the last 12 months. Staggering, isn’t it?Before your salespeople charge off to fight the next battle, ask them: “If this was your money, would you spend it?”Challenge No. 2Your salespeople don’t do enough planning work before going to battle. Before going into battle again, make sure your salespeople can answer these questions (honestly):• What are you trying to sell and, most importantly, why? Sounds simple enough until you actually try to quantify it.• Is the project funded? What if there’s not enough? Who has discretionary use of the funds? Who can get more? Are we speaking to the right person here?• What is the sale worth to the organization? Does the ROI justify the investment of time, money and effort?• Have we sold this prospect anything in the past? Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?• How many contacts have you already had with this prospect? How many phone calls, face-to-face meetings, etc.? Do you have a clear next step?• Do you have an organizational chart? Do you have an inside coach?• What has been (or will be) your sales strategy?• Where are you in the selling process? Here is a checklist:1. Were you invited in, or did you beg for an appointment?2. What were the prospect’s reasons for seeing you?3. What were the challenges, problems and frustrations you identified in the interview?4. How important is it to the prospect to fix those problems?5. How committed is the prospect to fixing those problems? (Time, effort, money, willingness to fail.)6. What agreement have you and the prospect reached concerning the decisions that will be made each step of the way?Few salespeople understand the cost of pursuing sales and often fill their funnels with bad business. Fewer think through winning strategies before going into sales “battle.”Ask your salespeople these fundamental sales questions before committing resources to a battle you cannot win.Successful sales professionals qualify vigorously and religiously before committing time and energy, so their closing ratios are 90 percent or better.So, what are yours?Greta Schulz is a sales consultant for businesses and entrepreneurs. For more sales training tips and tools, or to ask her a question, go to www.schulzbusiness.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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