Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog
Of course you have sales problems. If it’s not a production problem, it’s a productivity problem. If it’s not a productivity problem, it’s a servicing problem. If It’s not a service problem, it’s a sales/sales support turnover problem. In the words of Rosanne Rosannadana,“It’s Always Something”Most companies, if not all companies have some method for keeping and tracking sales pipeline activity and progress. We use Hubspot’s CRM because it ties very well with our inbound lead efforts, the pricing is extraordinary, the reporting is as good as anything on the market and getting up to speed is fast and easy. But putting data in the CRM and keeping an eye on it is not enough. You have to gain business intelligence and then act on what you know.
Conduct an Emergency Pipeline Anaylsis (EPA) for a simple but effective way to determine what stays in the pipeline and what goes to the pipedream (delete folder). EPA originator, Dave Kurlan, wrote a blog that goes into detail about the 16,000+ proposals presented to unqualified buyers by B2B salespeople every day. This data comes from the 1,000s of Sale Evaluations and Improvement Analysis (SEIA) done yearly by our firm and others around the world. In the SEIA we analyze the state of the current pipeline. Figure 1 identifies the quality of the pipeline assessed for a large sales organization. When assessing for closable opportunities the green area at the bottom should be much larger than the blue area at the top if the opportunities are truly qualified. If your closable opportunities are not really qualified you end up with a similar pipeline configuration to the one you see in the chart.
The process to get this information is simple but effective: Create a number of qualifying questions that are based on the steps in your qualification checklist. Those questions may include but are not limited to:
Answering/scoring these questions simply requires a 1 or a 0. You add up the scores vertically for the opportunities in your pipeline and then make a decision to either;
There is a world of difference between managing the pipeline and looking at the pipeline and reporting the results. Managing is an active process. As a manager you must constantly and consistently evaluate the opportunities in the pipeline for:
This will take time but it’s important for you and your salespeople to do because it will ultimately result in closing more business, more quickly at higher margins.
CALL TO ACTION
Set up a 1-on-1 coaching call with one of our Sales Development Experts to discuss how to effectively build and manage a credible and valid pipeline report, regardless of the CRM you are using.
Subject line: 1-on-1 coaching call
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:
There are normally at least three problems with the use of CRMs and pipeline management:
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:
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:
Call To Action:
Request a 30 minute live Emergency Pipeline Analysis Session to evaluate current opportunities in your pipeline. What you will get/learn.
Subject Line: EPAS Demo
The rollercoaster/anemic pipeline discussion is important if you need to know the answers to these important business questions:
Knowing the answers to these questions helps you have better predictability from your pipeline. The answers also
Instead of telling them they need to “See more people”, “Do a better job of closing” or “Increase your average size sale”, you will have the ability to show the data so that they understand where they are lacking and must increase efforts and/or learn skills.
Here are 5 Sales Management BEST PRACTICES to eradicate the rollercoaster anemic pipeline problem, ALTHOUGH you must have a CRM system that does more than just allow your
Your CRM tool must have a milestone centric sales process format that collects information about leads every time they go to your site, read an email, or look at your LinkedIn profile. Your CRM must produce and display a dashboard with all the pertinent information that answers the questions asked above. And your CRM must have a library of content you can use to help coach your people. (Ask
**Side note: Failing is failing. Don’t lull yourself into a false sense of security with comments like, “He is close. He is trending in the right direction. He is one deal away from hitting goal.”
These 5 Best Practices are not meant to be the all-inclusive list of steps required by sales managers to drive sales productivity. You must still have steps and strategies to motivate your people, recruit more of the right talent, have great sales meetings, develop teams that work together etc. But focusing on these 5 Best Practices will help you develop a more credible, valid and consistent pipeline. This is important to you, your people and the company.
CRM best practices-An article by Izzy Witts at Bablequest.com
9 Keys to Coaching Sales Success Are you a great coach?
Years ago, while attending the Objective Management Group International Sales Conference, Dave Kurlan, president of OMG, talked about how to effectively manage opportunities through the pipeline. He made the analogy that prospects are like fruit and vegetables in the produce section of your local grocery – they are all perishable.
“In The End, We’re All Just Fruit” – Watch the video!
That phrase has stuck with me all these years, and we continue to reference it when we are presenting our Effective Sales System (this article has 2600 views – it’s worth reading) workshops and when we are working with our new clients for hirebettersalespeople.com.
NOT EVERYONE HAS THE SAME "SHELF LIFE"
Prospects: They have a shelf life just like fruit: some of them a little longer than others. Bananas – not so long, apples and mandarins a little longer, potatoes – not forever, but if they start to sprout, you can at least plant them in the ground and get more potatoes. The bottom line is that none of them last forever. You need to either eat them or find a way to preserve them for later.
As you go about looking at the shelves (prospecting in the market) for the produce you need for tonight’s meal or for meals over the next couple of days, you need to be somewhat selective so that the food you select today is fresh enough for cooking and or consuming over a short period of time. I can buy a bag of potatoes and probably use them in two weeks. Buy a bunch of bananas and we’ll need to eat them soon or else next week we will have to turn them into banana bread.
WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME
The same holds true for prospects relative to their buy cycle. They are not in that cycle forever. Depending on what services you sell, they could be off the shelf in a week. They may be in the looking, considering, “thinking about” cycle for a while, but once they decide to buy – it’s time to buy!
Years ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle. The Chevy Avalanche had been out for a couple of years and I knew, when the day came, that was going to be my purchase. There is a Chevy dealership just down the road from my house in Montgomery, Ohio where I had purchased vehicles in the past from the manager Bill Wentzel. When the day came – my lease was expiring – I went to Bill, told him I had a check in my pocket and would like to test drive the red Avalanche. I asked him if he would get me a salesperson who wouldn’t get in the way and just let me buy.
Two hours later – that’s because the paper work takes that long- I drove off of the lot in my new shiny red Avalanche.
***Note to bankers, advisors and insurance sales people***
Your prospects are ALWAYS in the market. EVERYONE you sell to is using, consuming and/or shopping for the services you offer. Your timing has to be good, but it doesn’t have to be great. What has to be GREAT is your constant contact with them so that, when they are ready, you are top of mind.
DON'T LET PROSPECTS PERISH
Here is my real point. When going out into the market, you can find yourself wasting your time with produce/prospects that aren’t quite ready or are already past their prime time for consumption:
If you want to close more business, more quickly at higher margins, then find the highly perishable prospects – work with them on solving their problem. Present a solution to them and get them off of the shelf. Do not neglect the potatoes, bananas, tomatoes or green beans; continue to check on them, plant them in your database (your CRM) and, when the time comes to make potato salad, they will be ready.
Do You Need Better “Shoppers” (sales people) Who Won’t Perish? Sales Mistake Calculator
How to Determine a Qualified Prospect – Post-Call Checklist/Scorecard