Well it’s mid-year…so if you want to make your annual sales quota it’s time for a checkup and perhaps even some adjustments. As you review or revise your sales plan for the balance of the year, consider taking a close look at the following seven “areas” and determine what value they may bring to your sales enterprise.
- Reassess Sales Funnel Health & Accuracy. To what extent is your sales funnel filled with “wishes?” Sales opportunities often stay in a funnel long after the sales representative knows the deal is not going to close. Be sure that your sales funnel is accurate and up to date. You may not like the results, but reality is better than fiction.
- Ensure that each sales opportunity is a good match to your ideal customer profile. This means that it’s winnable.
- Ensure the dollar amount for each sales opportunity is correct.
- Verify that each opportunity is in the correct stage of the buying process.
- Use analytics to identify which sales opportunities are stuck in a stage.
- Revisit your funnel management review process. In the 2016 Sales Behaviors Study Trends Analysis from CSO Insights 71% of respondents indicated their funnel review process was “good” enough (neutral to strongly agree) but only 45.8% of forecasted opportunities closed. These results suggest that the funnel management review process in many organizations needs to be reviewed.
- Focus On Winnable Opportunities! Your resources are limited and in most industries selling is a team sport. Focus on the winnable sales opportunities that, if won, can get you to your number this year. Be vigilant about opportunities that are early in their development or mid- stage. These are great for next year, but not now.
- If you don’t have an opportunity review process develop one and use it methodically.
- Focus opportunity reviews on those where you are selling a new product to a new customer. These opportunities tend to be the most challenging sales to close.
- Allocate the appropriate company resources to convert high priority opportunities.
- Review the Buying Process and Determine Where Losses are Occurring. Not all of your sales representatives are top performers at each stage of the buying process. Some need or would find value in being coached at a specific stage. Review where each sales opportunity is in the buying process and be sure your sales representative has the skills and resources to get it to the next stage.
- Focus coaching on the sales opportunities that are winnable this year.
- Provide coaching and/or training to support skill development at each stage of the buying process.
- Consider evaluating your sales team against the skill sets required to sell in your industry. This can be accomplished quickly and can provide a lift in the final 4- 5 months of the year.
- Evaluate Sales Preparedness & Commitment. Every sales call is a live performance. Are your sales representatives prepared when they make calls? Or, are they winging it? Being unprepared lengthens the sales cycle, decreases credibility and adds an unnecessary risk to winning the opportunity. Not every sales representative gives 100% every day. Who is committed to making or exceeding their number? Who is happy at being close or falling short?
- Have each of your sales managers use a stop light of red, green or yellow with each of their subordinates to show the level of sales preparedness and commitment.
- Re-evaluate whether your mid-level managers are leading or merely reporting.
- Lead and coach the high performers and those mid-level performers who can still make or exceed their plan.
- Evaluate Effectiveness of Sales Tools and Company Resources. The tools and resources provided by the company are designed to support a specific stage of the customer’s buying process and they are based on the best practices of your high performers.
- Be sure the sales tools are used effectively. For example, if you have Sales Playbooks are your sales representatives using them to plan their customer facing communication?
- Hold your managers accountable. If execution and adoption doesn’t occur on the frontline it won’t happen at all.
- Double down on key accounts. These are your best accounts and each has the potential for additional business. Keep in mind the easiest customer to sell to is an existing customer who is buying an existing product.
- Look for opportunities to cross sell or sell more to your key accounts.
- Explore “greenfield” opportunities (new initiatives by your customer’s organization) that can create revenue this year.
- Be vigilant for customer service issues that might undermine or delay closing or renewing a key account.
- Manage Time Wisely! It’s easy to get distracted by low volume opportunities and customer service issues. Review your weekly schedule to ensure that you (and your team) are investing adequate effort and time in high value, winnable opportunities.
- Allocate resources to sales representatives who need the most help.
- Have sales managers monitor customer facing activities to ensure your team is getting to the right buyers at the right time with the best message.
Yogi Berra said it best: “It ain’t over till it’s over.” If you’re a sales leader devote a half day to strategizing on where you are today relative to plan. Determine what needs to be done to make plan. Then develop your team gap improvement plan, implement it and measure your progress.
This article was originally published in the July issue of Top Sales World
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