Optimizing Sales Performance
Focusing on the right opportunities
Very often and especially if numbers are tight, the temptation is to go after any business, qualification of an opportunity is reduced and realistic chances of winning a deal are not properly assessed.
Whilst it is great for vanity to have many opportunities in your sales funnel, the reality is that it is far better to have the right opportunities in your sales funnel. If you manage to have both, then fantastic.
It is fine to push the boundaries of what’s possible with clients and prospects, but ensure your organization is with you and supporting before going too far in the sales cycle. Qualification and organizational buy-in are integral to success and no sales person wants to waste weeks/months on opportunities they are never going to win. Don’t be afraid to have positive critique on your opportunities both internally and externally – your time and the organizations time are precious and need to be focused in the right areas.
How do you ensure your Clients become your advocates?
What is a Client advocate? It is an organization and/or individual who values the service and relationship with you, to the extent that they will broadcast andpraise you internally and externally. In the world of social media, this positivity can spread globally quickly – the opposite of course, is equally true.
Why is this important? As the old sales adage goes, sales are much easier from either referrals, advocacy or clients who want to repeatedly do business with you and your organization. Whilst all Sales Directors and organizations are looking for new and different growth, the first fundamental is to hit the targets set in the minimum timeframe – Client advocates help you do this.
Have you Client advocates today (or are they just Customers?) – do you understand the difference. How do you go about creating this powerful resource?
Is your pipeline real?
With the advent of more sophisticated sales CRM systems, it is increasingly easier to slice and dice data in multiple ways, look at trends, clients, sales by product or service and look at ‘leads to opportunity’ metrics.
Whether using an Excel spreadsheet or CRM system, for the professional salesperson or sales manager today, the integrity of the pipeline is paramount. It is not just for the sales team, but fuels financial performance expectations, resourcing, stockholdings, development planning and more.
There is always pressure and rightly so, to have a healthy and qualified sales pipeline. The pipeline cannot be stagnant and needs to reflect exactly what’s going on with opportunities at any specific snapshot of time. Evaluate yours today and ask the hard but very real questions.
Improving return on bid ratios
If numbers are tight, the pressure often comes down from on high to bid for anything. However, qualified quality vs quantity wins most times in today’s sales world.
Do you measure your bid effectiveness? Do you know your quote/bid to win ratios for the past 12 months? Are you improving or deteriorating in your ratios? There isn’t a magic bullet or single metric across all industries which defines what success looks like. If you’re expending lots of energy (and responding to bids especially in the public sector makes us all feel like we’re busy) in providing proposals, but your win ratio is very low (say 1 in 10) then something is wrong in the qualification, presentation, commercial packaging of a proposal (or all 3 of them). Analysis and any improvement will provide a better return on invested time as well as creating a more believable and higher % probability pipeline.
Linking sales incentives to business goals
Setting sales targets in isolation of the business goals, whether long or short term, will not generate the shape of pipeline or business which an organization is looking for. Sales and the wider organization must be aligned in goals – the horses and wagons must not be going in different directions.
Sales quotas/KPI’s and/or incentives need to embrace the business and financial goals of an organization. For instance, in the software world if the drive is to move to “cloud” services, does the sales compensation plan reward and reflect this?