FUNNELLING YOUR EFFORTS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Our quote this month from Adam Smith, pioneer in the world of economics and free trade rings very true in today’s business environment and has a huge impact on the world of professional selling. There is never a shortage of demand for cash, even though at times there may be a shortage of demand for the products and services that we all supply. While we may not technically be in a recession demand is generally flat, as it has been for the last three or four years. In this issue of the SalesPulse we suggest a few key actions that companies can take to improve the chances of achieving their demand for customers’ cash through enhanced sales focus.
First of all in commercial organisations everyone sells. Selling is a team sport the objective of which is to generate, manage and close enough leads to achieve the team’s success. This is also known as managing the sales funnel.
So let’s take a look at the players in your team:
Marketing: This part of the team have so many, sometimes too many things to do. However, there are two key jobs that surpass all the others and they are to generate qualified leads, and to nurture those that aren’t, so that they may become so. If there’s any time left they can do all the other stuff.
The sales people: These players need to keep their discipline, use their time on business they can win, prepare thoroughly for every customer or prospect contact so that progress through the funnel is achieved. When times are tough there is always a temptation to hold on to leads for too long. Over 50% of prospects end up as no decision to proceed or losses. Time lost here cannot be recovered, and it is time that could be better used prospecting.
Sales management: Stop looking at spreadsheets, stop asking when orders will happen, stop asking how much will they be and stop getting involved in internal bureaucracy and meetings. Sales managers are responsible for the integrity of the sales funnel, to ensure that everything in it is real and the right steps are being taken to generate business. Think of the funnel’s contents as the lifeblood of the company; keeping it healthy is paramount. Your sales managers should start spending at least 50% of their time with their people, working on the “hows” of performance so that their people can improve. They should also use at least 30% of their time with their customers and prospects understanding their business and their problems and creating solutions to help them. Not only will these two activities ensure the integrity of the sales funnel, they may also yield additional leads.
Customer services: Mistakes made here are often punished; doing it right first time, on time, every time is the mantra. Empower this part of the team to fix customer problems and go the extra mile for the customer; it will deliver satisfied customers, more leads for the funnel and quicker outcomes.
Other senior management: When did you last get a lead from your finance director, or indeed when did your FD or other senior managers last have a business meeting with a customer? Get them to develop a relationship plan with their peers in your customers, so that they can find out what is stopping you winning business and help speed prospects down the funnel. They might even find some leads as well. It is the responsibility of senior management to ensure that all meetings have customers as the first agenda item and what their department(s) can do to help generate cash through supporting sales and customer satisfaction.
Remember, branding is not cash, advertising is not cash, accounting is not cash; cash is cash and it comes from sales to your customers. So become totally customer centric. Examine, reduce or stop activities that are not helping your customers business and get as many people out of the back office as is possible.