Many companies pay significant amounts of money to generate leads for their sales teams, and yet, many of those leads never get called. Salespeople have a tendency, like most of us do to take the path of least resistance, and as a result, many otherwise perfectly viable leads get ignored and become stale. Why is that?
Problem #1: Where to Begin
Some salespeople have a knack for organizing their day and executing on the highest return activities, but they are in the minority. Lacking clear direction and a solid plan, the majority will actually only spend about 40% of their time on the most valuable sales activities. Whether it’s a lack of confidence, or a lack of organization, the result is the same… a lack of worthwhile activity.
Problem #2: But Other Leads Responded
If salespeople are getting more traction with a handful of their leads, others are often left to rot on the vine. Intuitively, salespeople equate activity (any customer-facing activity) as a buying signal, the fast track to sales nirvana, the shortest path to quota attainment. Unfortunately, just because a lead is willing to talk, doesn’t necessarily mean they are the ideal lead that should get the salesperson’s full attention, to the exclusion of others.
Problem #3: I Got Distracted / Busy
Social media, email, customer issues, colleagues over the cubicle wall…the list goes on and on. A recent article by Reuters states that an estimated 2.1 hours of productivity a day is lost, per employee, because of distractions. It’s not necessarily that the distractions themselves are not pertinent, but the refocusing time to get back to the task in a fully cognizant mode after being distracted or interrupted can be as much as 15 minutes!
Problem #4: I Tried Once, but They Didn’t Answer
Experts differ and pontificate on the number of attempts one should make to reach a prospect before giving up. Anywhere from 4 to 18 attempts have been recommended so it’s clear that calling once and giving up should not be an option.
According to a CSO Insights survey, sales reps research as many as 15 different sources prior to calling a prospect. 82% of sales teams feel challenged by the amount of data available and the time it takes to research a prospect before making a call.
You’ve got some hard working salespeople. So why are they struggling to make quota? The problem could be that they are busy doing a lot of the wrong things. Equipping your reps with the right tools can make all the difference. If you could give your reps more time to sell, more focus, more confidence, a guide to prioritize who to call and when, and what to say to them, what might that be worth? How would that speed up sales cycle times?
Get involved in the conversation in the comments section below!
What about Bob?
We all know someone who goes through life with a rainbow overhead. He just does what feels right and makes his quota every month. Somehow, we all wish we could be like him. It would be such bliss, wouldn’t it? Just go out there and sell your socks off and live the life; carefree and bonus-bound. Park that in the category of dreams, because in reality, most of us could use at least some help staying on task in order to make our number. Think about this:
How can we get in front of the curve?
Wouldn’t it be awesome every sales professional could be a rockstar? Trust us when we say it doesn’t always happen by chance. In order to make quotas consistently, a solid plan needs to come into play. Once a plan has been established, measure and track execution of the plan. Track progress towards goals and make changes as needed. Sales will ultimately gain confidence in their work when they can effectively manage their time and resources.
Sometimes we are so focused on the design (our relationship with our customer, their needs, their timing, their sense of value) that we hate to leave the “important stuff” to go and figure out what we actually need to be doing next. When we get in “the zone” we get so focused on resonating with our customers that when we are finished talking with them, it’s hard to switch gears and start thinking about what comes next. Where am I now? Where do I need to go next? What do I need to do now?? How can companies automate this process so sales representatives know exactly what to do next?
With this question in mind, our developers here at ShadeTree have made it possible to automate this very process with our product, Incite2. To see how this tool helps sales professionals know what to do next, watch a short video or schedule a demo and process discussion with a sales advisor.
The Traditional Sales “Strategy”:
There’s a vicious cycle that plagues a lot of sales efforts today. It looks kind of like this:
- Caffeinate – Slug back 20 oz coffee and give yourself a pep-talk. Today is the day.
- Wing it – Work like a person on fire and hope “the flow” will just happen.
- Rejection – The flow didn’t happen. Why didn’t the flow happen? More caffeine.
- Overwhelmed– The flow cannot be found, no matter how hard I try. Prayer offered.
- Panic – The axe is coming, because the flow isn’t happening. More prayer.
- Justify – Report imaginary numbers to delay the axe from coming. We’re good, really we are.
- Realization – The process isn’t working. Something needs to change.
Hope is not a strategy and by itself, a tragedy. Sure, you may get lucky once in awhile but I doubt your company is all that excited about your occasional lucky streaks. What they get really excited about is regular, consistent sales results they can use to build their business month-after-month.
A Simplified Sales Strategy
If you think about almost any other type of work where something complex is built, there are principles that make all the difference between successful completion of goals, and getting lucky from time to time:
Developing a Plan
Some of the best advice we’ve heard about planning comes from the late great Stephen R Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.” What is the end goal for your business? If you are in sales there’s probably a quota that is the primary objective of your job: X Dollars per X timeframe. If a company does not begin their sales strategy with concrete goals, they will not have any idea if they have achieved them. Many salespeople fail simply because they do not set realistic achievable goals for themselves to start with.
Measure and Adjust
Set up milestones to determine if goals are being reached in a productive way. Breaking these goals down into smaller chunks will enable sales professionals to keep track of where they are. Am I still on track for the month? If not, then the sales plan needs to be changed. At this point, it is easy to see what points within the sales cycle need to be adjusted in order to make a productive change.
Report True Projections
For a manager trying to determine the health of their sales team’s efforts, and the level of completion of their goals, true numbers are a must. By reporting exactly what the sales team is up to and demonstrating the results match the companies plan, sales managers can determine if their efforts are paying off.
Does your sales team follow this simplified strategy? Or, are they stuck in a never ending vicious cycle of imaginary numbers and caffeine?
Sales conversations inevitably follow a specific course, down one topical path. It is a well-worn and often quite predictable track called “product and price.” To improve your chances for a sale, you may try to steer the conversation in other, more intellectual directions. Your intention of course is to engage the buyer in a higher quality discussion that addresses their precise challenges and objectives.
One of the great and productive functionalities of CRM is the ability for sales managers to track the activity levels and performance benchmarks of their team members. If reps are not conducting or managing enough phone calls, follow-ups, and sales meetings, you will know about it-and so will they. Read more
Email may not seem like an ideal communications medium when it comes to increasing sales productivity and captivating prospects. It is, however, how most sellers and buyers communicate today. More than likely your reps rely on emails as a follow-up to phone conversations and to communicate throughout the sales cycle.
Because email follow-up, while necessary, takes away from valuable selling time, it’s important to have an email process in place that is time efficient and still effective. To be effective, the content in a follow-up email needs to captivate your prospects. Read more
Speed and impact are two critical and decisive factors when you are in the sales profession, especially when your activities are being scrutinized by the ‘time-is-money’ shot-clock. Your reps must consistently be on top of their game if they want to meet or exceed quota. On a revenue-weighted scale of all-out performance, what you really want for them is to have the maximum amount ofimpact in the least amount of time. Andy Paul refers to this as MILT in his book Zero Time Selling. Mr. Paul discusses his MILT concept in detail with regard to interacting with prospects. Read more
By estimate, there will be approximately 70,000 people at this week’s spectacular Dreamforce event, Salesforce.com’s annual conference and expo being held in San Francisco. Its impressive agenda is all about how the social revolution is changing the way we do business. The event will impact and illustrate how business trends are adjusting to and dictating emerging technologies. There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that an astounding number of companies use Salesforce. Although the company will not reveal its sales figures or its total customer tally, industry estimates have put the number of clients in the neighborhood of 132,000 organizations and over 4.5M subscribers. Without the risk of overstating the obvious, that is a remarkable amount of customers. Read more
Every sales organization has one over-arching objective to which all other activities are in service and that is to meet or exceed its revenue goals. For sales teams, that is how “victory” is defined.
If you run a sales team, odds are pretty high that you’ve been focusing on the following in order to ensure your team is positioned and prepared for success: Read more
All inspired and resourceful reps that expect or intend to blow past their quota start their day in the same dedicated manner. They ask themselves two fundamental questions:
1. “What should I do today?” (Prioritization)
2. “What do I need in order to do it?” (Execution) Read more