It is time to expect more from your sales process. It is no longer enough that it delivers consistency and control in respect of sales.
Do you want to focus attention on the issue of sales activity and effectiveness among your team? Well here is a very powerful exercise you can apply at your next sales team meeting.
It will enable you to get a consensus on the key opportunities for improving sales performance, while side-stepping the issues of personalities and politics that can often get in the way of taking action & making change.
The results will change the way you look at sales performance – they will also help you to get your team to to apply new sales strategies and skills in order to boost success.
We have developed a methodology to guide managers in identifying and exploiting opportunities for increased sales effectiveness and accelerated sales growth.
It encourages managers to view sales and marketing, not as a set of discrete functions (e.g. telemarketing, or customer service), but as the revenue-generating engine of the business.
The Sales Engine framework enables managers to look behind such general problems as ‘not enough leads’ or ‘low conversion rates’ to identify specific opportunities to accelerate sales growth in their business.
The sales engine guides mangers step by step through an examination of effectiveness in terms of 6 key stages of the sales process, including sales; leads, meeting, cycles, orders and repeat orders.
It is an important tool in the application of a scientific, approach to identifying and exploiting opportunities for increased sales effectiveness.
The Sales Engine enables managers to look behind such general problems as ‘not enough leads’ or ‘low conversion rates’ to identify specific opportunities to accelerate sales growth in their business.
• Is the sales engine firing on all cylinders? Or are some cylinders misfiring?
• Are there opportunities to fine tune, or even turbo charge any of the cylinders?
• Would a change of oil, spark plugs, or filters help?
• How powerful is the engine? Is it up to the job? Will it get us to where we want to be?
• How efficient is the engine? Is it giving delivering high MPG? Is there waste in any areas?
• How do we know if it performing at its best? Are the metrics clear? Is there a management dashboard? Are there tell tale signs if there is a problem?
• Who is responsible for engine maintenance / optimisation?
• When is the last time the sales engine was serviced, or fine tuned?
• How will the engine need to change to meet the companies growth ambitions / market conditions?
• If we were starting from scratch and building the engine again, would it be different?
‘Hard work is its own reward’ says the proverb and certainly successful salespeople are no strangers to hard work. However, as successful sales teams know hard work is only part of the success equation. Working smarter, not just harder is a key requirement of the successful sales team and that relates very much to the concept of sales engine versus sales effort.
The Sales Peron ‘Run Ragged’
In the complex sale it is not the salesperson who completes 20 meetings in a week that wins, but the salesperson who:
Time and time again we see that it is not the salesperson that is ‘run ragged’ sending more emails, making more pitches and writing more proposals that enjoys the greatest success. Rather success goes to the salesperson who:
The same is true of sales teams and organizations – while characterized by high levels of activity, their success is not won by dent of sheer effort alone. The overall result is greater than the sum of the efforts of individual sales team members, or individual sales campaigns – that is where there is (a) a consistent process, (b) a high level co-ordination and (c) the back of up of effective systems and structures.
(a) Consistent and more efficient processes around selling:
Managers are applying the same structure, science and discipline to sales and marketing as to any other area of business. They are discovering the best way for their organizations to sell and applying it with greater consistency to boost the results achieved.
In other words managers are applying ‘work smarter, not harder’ thinking to sales and marketing. They are examining how they generate leads, conduct sales meetings, write proposals and every other step of the sale in order to maximize success and improve win rates. Even if the opportunities for improvement in each of these areas are individually small, the overall impact across the sales process of many changes can be dramatic.
(b) More Integration and Coordination of Sales & Marketing:
This drive for increased sales effectiveness has focused managers on the cracks between their various individual elements of their sales and marketing.
They are integrating every aspect of their sales and marketing into a effective system for growth. That means integrating everything – every sales call, campaign, and message – as part of the revenue-generating engine of the business.
(c) Better Systems and Structures:
Sales opportunities are too few in number and too expensive to progress, to be left to chance. That means managers are adopting systems to provide greater visibility, predictability and control across the sales team. These systems also automate key sales and marketing tasks – from the automatic capture of web enquires, providing a central repository for contact information, to the triggering diary alerts of key actions relating to sales opportunities. They are also turning attention to the effectiveness of such structures as sales team meetings, or pipeline reviews.
As a result of all these trends, sales is inevitably becoming more engine-like, that is more systematic, more efficient and more effective.
Two decades ago an advertising executive took a factory sign and turned it into one of the most globally recognised of marketing slogans. The slogan wasn’t even in English! It means ‘progress through technology’, but is more familiar to us all as ‘vorsprung der technic’ – the Audi trade mark.
Progress through sales technology!
A slight a variation on this popular slogan is very relevant give the focus of so many sales managers at this time. That is ‘vorsprung der sales technic’, or in english ‘progress through sales technology’. We considered other slogans but they just did not have the same appeal – ‘keep on keeping on’, ‘hard work will see you through’ for example lacked the motivational appeal.
Progress through sales technology means the application of science and structure to selling. After all making sales calls, sales pitches and sales proposals is not enough. Better sales calls, sales pitches and sales proposals are what is needed.
Progress requires working smarter, not just harder. It requires constant innovation and improvement and with it better systems, structures, processes and plans for selling. It won’t do away with the toil and effort, but it will make it as intelligent and rewarding as possible.
Faced with more challenging markets, greater sophistication of buyers and the difficulty of predicting what deals will close, making sales more engine-like is key.
If sales is the engine of the business then who is the mechanic? Well, obviously it is the sales manager! Here we look at this vital new role and the payback it can deliver.
As the drive towards a more scientific approach to sales continues the sales manager is becoming sales engineer. That means:
Managers are looking beyond the efforts of the individual sales person, the periodic sales drive, or marketing campaign to sales as the engine of their business. That means in addition to meeting this quarters target they are building the systems, structures and skills within their organisations in order to meet target not just this quarter but the next.
The manager is not just focused on the quick fix to problems such as ‘we need more leads this quarter’, but focuses on the bigger picture – developing the systems, capabilities, tools and skills to generate more and better leads on an ongoing basis. The focus shifts from lets run more ads and make more cold calls, to how can we improve the effectiveness of lead generation? How can we adopt a best practice approach to lead generation? And so on.
While focused on the day job, managers also pay attention to such issues as:
These efforts don’t just pay dividends this quarter and the next, they result in the development of the core sales capability of the organisation underpinning its long term sales success.