Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Pipeline Management – Why Monitor If You’re Not Going To Fix It? 5 Steps to fixing instead of just monitoring.

Tags: Pipeline management, setting sales goals, increase pipeline

My wife Linda and I were recently in Columbia Maryland visiting family. While having a mid-afternoon lunch at Clyde’s I happen to see a “LifeLock” commercial on the bar TV. All I caught was the following caption:

“Why Monitor If You're Not Going to Fix It”?

Forbes contribution editor, Will Burns, writes about the absurdity the Lifelock ads point out. He even does us the favor of including the Dentist, Robbery and Pest Control ads in his article.

Many companies, probably including yours, have for many years monitored pipeline opportunities. The idea is to have information about the opportunities being created by the sales team. Companies want to know: 

  • What stage in the sales process is the opportunity
  • What the next steps are to move the opportunity through the pipeline
  • The likelihood of winning the business based on a probability % either calculated or assumed based on the sales stages
  • The future sales revenue of all the opportunities in the pipeline.

There are normally at least three problems with the use of CRMs and pipeline management:

  1. Validity - The true accuracy (validity) of the predictive nature of the CRM is dependent upon making sure that a milestone centric sales process has been mapped and made to be part of the CRM being used.
  2. Credibility – Even if you have the right sales process mapped and documented there is still the element of GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage Out. If your sales team is entering opportunities into the pipeline to keep management off of their back and assuming that the opportunities have met the criteria for each step in the sales process then you still have a predictive problem with your pipeline.
  3. Lack of helpful business intelligence – It’s one thing to enter data and get raw numbers of what has happened and what we think will happen. It’s another thing to build your CRM so that you get reporting that tells you how sales people are performing against the sales success formula developed for each individual. Without comparative data then truly all a company or manager is doing is monitoring activity without identifying if in fact there are any problems.

What a company should be looking for, so that it’s in a position to ‘fix it’, are critical numbers and ratios so that a sales manager can clearly and more accurately identify choke points in the sales process for each individual.  Additionally the data can and should tell the manager and the organization if training and coaching is required or if the current training and coaching is having the intended impact: Improving the effectiveness and results of the sales team. 

Let’s assume the following sales effort and effectiveness performance model: 

Action Plan.png

  •  The sales person that is failing to hit sales targets is supposed to:
    • Create 10 new leads a month
    • Convert 50% of those into opportunities
    • Convert 50% of those into presentations
    • And get 50% of those presentations to turn into sold business
    • Additionally the average size sales is supposed to be $10,000.00 
  • Lets assume the following actual sales effort and effectiveness:
    • 9 new leads are being created but we don’t know why 9 instead of 10?
    • 50% of leads are being converted to opportunities
    • 50% of those opportunities are leading to presentations (but keep in mind over time there will only be 90% of the planned for opportunities because of failure to hit the lead goal)
    • 45% of the presentations turn into sold business instead of 50%
    • And, the average size sale is $9,000.00 instead of $10,000.00

If this is monitored and NOT ADDRESSED/FIXED then this sales person will be short of their goal in access of 25%. This will be a gradual event because unless the CRM is built to provide this information pro-actively no one will notice. No one will notice because the numbers are either: Not being monitored. Not being addressed because they are ‘close enough’ (9 instead of 10. Management sees this as being 1 off of target rather than 10% off target). Or, the coaching to fix the problem falls into the category of ‘do more’ instead of let’s coach you on how to do ‘better’.

Does any of this look or sound familiar? It may not especially if you have enough of the right people (about 33% of your sales group) doing enough of the right things. With 33% of the team carrying the load you will still end up with about 90% of your goal and all you need is a few of the remaining 67% of the team to contribute something to the production number. You will be close enough.

“Fixing” it has to be part of the investment when investing in sales enablement tools, systems and technology. Fixing the problem requires the following 5 steps:

  1. Building a milestone centric sales process that is part of the CRM
  2. Creating sales success formulas for each sales person based on their historical actual performance and agreed to sales goals
  3. Timely monitoring and updating of sales effort and sales execution data so that you can ‘catch them early’ in real time when their performance is a negative variance from the plan
  4. Using the data to develop intentional coaching strategies to help your sales people deal with the specific challenges they are having in either effort or execution. No more ‘run faster’ coaching
  5. Use metrics to determine your success:
    • % of sales people hitting effort target increases to 100%
    • % of people hitting conversion ratios improves
    • Production from each of the sales team segments (1/5s) improves year over year
    • The 80/20 rule starts to shift to a 70/30 > 60/40 rule
    • Validity and credibility in your pipeline prediction improves
    • Adaption of your CRM is at 100%

Call To Action: 

Request a 30 minute live Emergency Pipeline Analysis Session to evaluate current opportunities in your pipeline. What you will get/learn.

  • Complete instruction on how to more effectively evaluate the validity and credibility of your pipeline opportunities
  • How to more effectively identify choke points in the sales process
  • A method of intentional coaching to improve the probability of closing current opportunities.

Email:  tony@anthonycoletraining.com

Subject Line: EPAS Demo

 

Are You on the Right Track?

Tags: meeting sales goals, setting sales goals

A guest post by Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Let’s talk about getting on and staying on the right track.

If you are like most of us, at the end of December, you evaluate your results and then built a success formula for the type of year you need to have next year. My question is, have you built a success formula that is destined for failure?

Of course, none of us start out with the intention of failing; we just never looked to see if the train was coming!

Success formulas are great because they force us to identify certain behaviors that we need to execute week in and week out to achieve our goals. But, they cannot exist in a vacuum. Things change, and when they do, we need to change as well.

I want to share a few ideas on small changes to your success formula that can make a big difference at the end of the year.

First of all, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are doing the minimum activity on the front end, so this isn’t a call more/run faster conversation.

    • Consider prospecting for an account size that is 10% above your current target.
    • What if you improved your qualifying so that you converted just one more meetings into an opportunity each month?
    • What if you made one more telephone call each day? That’s over 200 more calls per year. Even if your technique didn’t improve (but it would), how many more opportunities would that create?
    • What about skill development? Getting better at asking for introductions, your compelling reasons for someone to do business with you.

You should evaluate every month not just how you are doing (results) but what you are doing (behaviors). Every month, answer these four questions.

    1. Do I have the right metrics? In other words, am I tracking the right behaviors that support my revenue objective?
    2. Am I performing with the right frequency? This would involve enough calls, 1st base meetings and asking for introductions.
    3. Am I performing at a high skill level? Is my message compelling? Am I asking questions that help the prospect to discover some compelling issue? Am I listening or just waiting until it’s my turn to talk? Do I prepare a pre-call plan with each prospect in mind?
    4. What do I need to stop doing? Do I confuse busy with a sense of accomplishment? We can all find things to do in order to avoid what we must do.

Just a few of the right changes could make all the difference when you get to next December. All aboard for a great new year!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tags: managing sales people, meeting sales goals, setting sales goals

goals_vision.jpg

Time to Make Sure that You have Set Your Goals for 2016!

When asked, most sales managers say that one of their greatest challenges is their ability to motivate their salespeople. If a sales manager can figure out what makes his people “tick”, he can better help them hit their goal numbers. Motivation seems like hard work because salespeople often value different things. There are however, several steps a sales manager can take to establish a motivating environment.

The first step is to recognize that motivation is an “inside-out’ job. When the topic of motivation is discussed, we typically think about incentive compensation, sales contests and recognition programs. All of these certainly encourage sales teams to focus on generating new business because these are rewards. However, you will gain true engagement and enthusiasm if you create an every-day environment which encourages each individual to identify and visualize his own internal motivation.

Do you remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid? The bottom two largest tiers are Physiological and Safety because these are the most basic needs of every individual. This same concept holds true for new salespeople. Hopefully they will make their way up to self-actualization at some point, but they must first have income for food, shelter, safety, etc. Only once they realize they have attained all of these basic necessities and have established a cushion, can they turn attention to the higher tiers of Self-Actualization and the bigger dreams and goals to which they might aspire.

To put it another way, salespeople do not care about corporate shareholder value unless they are shareholders themselves. What they care about is food, shelter, clothing, recognition, paying for college education or wedding, buying a vacation home, etc. These are personal desires and make up the vast majority of things that are important to people. So the solution is to create an environment where this internal motivation can take place. See The Dream Manager book by Michael Kelly.

This means that it is up to you to help your salespeople identify what is important to them. Make the effort to set up time off-site that is dedicated to planning and spend time developing each individual’s dreams and goals. This is time that you will spend ON your business instead of in it. Take a day or two that will help you and your team take a giant step forward to plan for the future.

Create a process where people can establish personal goals because this is where true motivation, passion and desire are born. Hence, it is from this process that each salesperson’s business plan must evolve.

You might position this process as though you are the coach and the salespeople are players on a competitive baseball team. Each of you has a part to play so that the whole team wins. When someone objects to the dream building exercises by saying something like “You are just going to provide a goal for me anyway so why do I have to do this?”, tell him that, as with a baseball team, each player must excel at his job so that the team can win and go to play-offs.

Say to him or her “Pretend that you are my ace shortstop and you want to be the best shortstop in the league. As coach I will do everything I can to help you attain this goal. But understand that I too have goals and my biggest is that we get to the World Series. We are working together, heading in the same, not different directions, to accomplish the same goals. This is a win-win for both of us.”

Salespeople will understand this. If someone does not get this, he or she may not be suited for selling. Selling requires desire, commitment and a need to win. Selling is a competition.

Create an environment where people get a chance to unplug, sit down and outline their goals and dreams; a time when both of you can establish timeframes and attach financial values to these items. Once you have attached financial values, you will know what level of prospecting and selling activity is necessary for each salesperson.

Reward yourself and your people when they have a success. Many years ago, when just my wife and I were running ACTG, we celebrated every time we sold a new account. But over the past 20+ years, selling new accounts has become business-as-usual. We stopped celebrating our successes along the way. So, as your people go through this process and identify their goals, as you sit down and establish your own personal goals, be sure to specify how you will reward yourself and your people as each of you achieve these goals.

Download Tony Cole’s eBook The Extraordinary Sales Manager

Addtional Resources:

Need help setting goals? Get YOUR copy of our Goal Setting Toolkit!