You’ve been in sales long enough to know that sales quotas only go up. Maybe you hit your goals last year, but are struggling to find the path to success for this year’s goal. There’s an old saying “nothing fails like success.” The essence of the quote is that the training and sales strategies that have led to your current success might not result in future sales success. In my experience, there are four main variables that derail continued sales team success and sabotage effective sales strategies. If you audit your current team’s business to identify how well you are executing these four steps, then you can count on hitting your ever-growing sales quota.
Maybe you are pioneering a new product or geography, or maybe you see the potential for more sales in your business but just don’t know where to start. It could be that your manager is asking for more production from you, but you can’t quite tell you how to get more business.
Accounts vs. Territory
What this really is, is a matter of clients versus geography. The first step in the process of growth is learning that geography shouldn’t dictate the flow of your business. For the purposes of this article, I’ll give you the CliffsNotes version. Stop thinking about your territory’s results, and start focusing on the individual accounts that exist within the defined geography. I’ve managed enough salespeople to know that all territories are “bad.” Don’t get caught up on the geographical size of your responsibility. Instead, prioritize the accounts under your control, and drive incremental sales improvements within each account.
Most companies don’t really understand how pipeline works. Every sales rep needs to become an expert on building a steady pipeline and constantly prospect potential accounts in order to grow that pipeline. Pipeline isn’t the total number of leads or prospects assigned to you, it’s the specific number of those leads that have shown interest in doing business and have then been qualified as acceptable accounts. In truth, your pipeline is the limiting factor upon your success as a sales person. If you are looking at unqualified leads assigned to you and thinking it represents your pipeline, then you’re only lying to yourself. The bottom line is that achieving success in sales is contingent upon your true pipeline. Set a specific weekly goal for qualifying or disqualifying leads, and remember that “no” is the next best answer.
The key to proper pipeline management is measuring the delta (hopefully positive) of new prospects qualified vs. prospects disqualified each week.
Volume, as a Time Multiplier
“In order to maximize volume and sales potential, you have to inspect what you expect.”
The best way to increase volume is to evaluate how you spend your time. Remember, customers aren’t equal, so don’t treat them equally. Identify and pursue accounts that can offer more than a single lead or referral. Learn a new twist on strategic account planning that can help you increase your sales volume. There are only 168 hours in a week. Chances are you work only 50 to 60 of those hours, so how you spend your time is important. The best sales reps on my team hold 25 face-to-face meetings with various accounts each week. In order to maximize results, those meetings need to be with accounts that have the most impact on your business.
In order to maximize volume and sales potential, you have to inspect what you expect. The effectiveness (or not) of past sales strategies and performance must dictate future selling activities. Look at an account’s previous sales results and hold them to continuing to purchase at that frequency for future periods. Once you gain a bird’s eye view of your personal sales volume, you can begin to add value.
The most sophisticated sales people have mastered their conversion statistics. Learning the most effective ways to improve your lead-to-sales ratio (defining an ideal buying cycle) and how to incrementally improve this ratio will re-invigorate your sales approach.
It has to be understood that to arrive at the sales results you want, you have to set reverse engineer protocol into motion. In other words, use your current conversion statistics to back into your closed deals number. If you are currently converting at 25%, then you have two ways to improve your sales results: 1) increase leads, or 2) improve your conversion percent. I’ll argue that you should strive to do both. Your energy is best utilized in converting existing leads into sales, not chasing new leads. This step is about maximizing the effect of all of your selling efforts. Some things to keep in mind in order to accomplish this are:
- Include – Consider the entire gamut of your opportunity and lead pool, even those whose probability of conversion is questionable.
- Educate – Inform your accounts what you need from them. Give them a number.
- Empathize – Change the mode of thinking in your strategy to win over indecisive referrals/leads.
- Quantify – Set a unique timeframe for yourself that best coincides with your company’s sales cycle.
- Eliminate – Look for common trends among leads that do not convert.
These four steps build and borrow from one another in order to create an effective sales strategy. If you take a moment and study each of these variables and apply them to your ever-increasing sales number, then you will win. Maybe you need more leads, or maybe it’s time to get honest about the actual size of your pipeline. Perhaps, your conversion has deteriorated. Fix it, and continue on the path to hitting your goals.