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.
The search for a more consistent, repeatable efficient process around selling is underway.
But those who are thinking about sales as the engine of their business have a head start in terms of achieving the benefits of a more process driven approach to sales. Here is why:
Whether the language is engine or process, managers are intent on transforming sales from an art to a science. They want greater visibility, predictability and control in respect of sales and that means they are seeking consistency in an area which has traditionally depended on the vagrancies of the salesperson, than the dictates of process. They want a process that can be tracked, measured and thereby improved.
• 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?
Engines are an efficient means of achieving a desired result, that generally involves transforming one thing to another. In the case of a vehicle, it ignites a mixture of air and gas to move a piston and rotate a crank shaft and generate the power required to move.
The sales engine is the means by which your business generates revenue from both new and existing customers. It takes in leads at one end and converts them through stages (that is sales meetings and sales cycles) into orders and ultimately repeat orders. That is providing the power to accelerate sales and move your business forward.
Typically, for the complex sale, the sales engine has 5 cylinders, that is key stages of processes in the sales cycle, (the first 4 cylinders) and growing revenue from existing customers (the final cylinder).
Advantages of the Sales Engine View.
The advantages of looking at sales and marketing as an engine are as follows:
• It is a simple, intuitive and visible, plus it is light on terminology and therefore is accessible to all the team (including those outside sales). That makes it an effective tool for coaching, planning and facilitation.
• It looks beyond the people and personalities involved to depersonalize sales and marketing and thereby facilitates an objective view.
• It encourages looking at sales as an organisational capability, rather than just an individual, or team. Sales people will come and go, but the capability must remain with the company.
• It adopts a high level view that integrates all aspects of sales and marketing into a central framework that can serve to rally all managers and their departments around the sales effort.
• It sees all aspects of sales and marketing as being interconnected and interrelated, for example if the leads cylinder is broken this will have an impact on all other aspects of the engine. An engine is the perfect example of multiple components working together to deliver a result – something that the video below, showing an internal combustion engine, demonstrates well.
• It brings systems thinking to bear on sales and marketing, including the concepts of business process re engineering and continuous improvement. Moreover, it encourages looking at sales in terms of a science, rather than a black art, or set of ad hoc, or sporadic activities.
• It is compatible with, and complementary to existing sales methodologies and processes that may exist within the sales team. It is just another way of looking at sales and marketing and getting a broader consensus.
• It employs terms, such as LEADS, MEETINGS, CYCLES AND ORDERS that are easy to apply. That is because they involve less subjectivity and are activity based. That means they can be tracked using most CRM, or sales reporting methods.
‘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.
One of the reasons why managers don’t see sales as the engine of their organization is because their organization’s approach to it is not as systematic, organized, or structured as they would wish.
In other words sales and marketing is not very engine-like, with managers in particular pointing to a deficit in terms of sales; process, system, skills, or structures.
Indeed, most managers would use the words sporadic, reactive and ad-hoc to describe at least some aspects of their organisation’s approach to how its products and services are marketed, or sold.
Take the test: Which of the following words would you use to describe your organisations approach to sales and marketing? Circle the one word per line that is most appropriate.
|5||Person / Personality Centric||or||Process Driven|
|Hit and miss
Calculating Your Score:
To put it another way sales and marketing are more art, than science, they are also more effort, than engine. However there are clear signs that a change of emphasis is taking place.
Managers are looking beyond the efforts of the sales person, or sales team and the occasional sales campaign to the systems, structures and science of selling. As a result, sales is inevitably becoming more engine-like.
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.