This message is for colleagues out there who are bag-carrying salespeople.
In the past I’ve expressed concern that your managers either can’t or won’t coach you. There are probably several reasons for this. But a key reason is that neither you nor your managers feel it’s productive. You don’t feel managers have insights or skills to share. Your managers feel that they don’t have the time or training to be effective coaches.
That’s okay. I am here to say that you don’t have to be coached to improve how you sell. In training sessions with salespeople, I suggest the following. You can be a Company of One! Like most salespeople, you have a territory. You input your own activities and deals into Salesforce CRM. And you know your pipeline! (Probably better than your manager.) You are your own mini-P&L! You have all the ingredients to improve except for one: Sales Diagnosis.
What is Sales Diagnosis?
Sales Diagnosis is a process for analyzing your activities and skills to generate more revenue. Your manager says you need to do more. Prospect more. Add more deals to your pipeline. Close more deals. Get more revenue. Do they suddenly expect that you will turn around and just do more? Not likely.
Nevertheless, you are being asked to produce more. That is not always an easy task. You are already doing a lot to keep your deals moving. You’re contacting new and existing prospects. You move deals through internal hurdles and approvals. And hopefully, you’re negotiating and closing deals. I would guess that you feel like you already do more.
The key issue is not doing more, but how to do more. You need to assess your situation and determine how to get more business. You identify what skills to improve upon. You determine resources you need to expand your pipeline and close more deals. Here’s a simple five-step process as a starting point for your improvement journey.
Step 1 – Assess Your Pipeline Based on Sales Stages
Log into Salesforce and create a pipeline report. Sort the deals by each Sales Stage of your Sales Process. Add the Age field to determine the average age of deals in each Stage. There are only two things you need to know:
- How many deals are in each stage? I want to know where deals are backing up in my pipeline. There could be one or two key stages where things stop or slow down
- How old are the deals in each stage? If my deals are too old, do I need to eliminate them from my pipeline? Or is there a reason they are still sitting at that stage?
Use these two questions to identify where you should accelerate your deals. There’s always a reason why deals are sitting at specific stages. You need a plan to move them forward.
Step 2 – What do your metrics look like?
Another great indicator to make changes is to review key sales metrics. There are two kinds of metrics you can look at:
- Leading indicators. Opportunity Counts and conversion rates at early stages in the sales process. For example, leads added, opportunities added, qualified opportunities, lead conversion rate and total pipeline amount are all leading indicators.
- Results metrics – these metrics are based on what you win or lose. The most obvious example is YTD Revenue. But metrics like close rates, average length of sales cycle, average deal size and number of wins or losses are all results metrics.
Look at results metrics and figure out why they are good or bad. For example, if you have low close rates, what is preventing you from closing more deals? Somewhere earlier in the process, you’ll find a leading indicator metric showing why your close rate isn’t as high as it should be.
Step 3 – Skills Alignment
In each step of your Sales Process, you apply specific sales skills. For example, you are using prospecting skills to bring new deals into your funnel. To identify the customer’s decision process, you map out which contact roles help move the deal forward. And so forth. Every sales process step requires you to do or deliver something (i.e., proposal, contract, etc.) to get the next step in the process. Often, you can identify a bottleneck in a sales stage with a specific skill deficiency. Then you can get help or training if you have a skill you need to work on.
Step 4 – Action Plan
An Action Plan is a to-do list of actions you’re planning to make improvements. As a rep, you are accountable for your number and for deals you close. As a Company of One, hold yourself accountable to improve your skills and activities. Identify one or two things you expect to improve. Make sure you can identify what will change that shows you improved. Perhaps new deals in the funnel, identifying more prospect contacts, or better conveying value to a key buyer. Set a goal and a timetable for how long it will take to make the improvement you envision.
Step 5 – Monitor your improvement in CRM
You have all the data about your deals and activities in Salesforce. Use the report you created in Step 1 to monitor your progress. Make notes along with your Action Plan to document your progress. The point is, the data you’re using is what you input into Salesforce every day. Use this data to your advantage. It’s not just for your manager!
At first, this process will require some work on your part. You’ll assess your activities and make decisions about what you want to change. Don’t get discouraged! When you make the commitment to improve, if you stick with it, you will see results! At Funnel Metrics, we see these results occurring for sales teams all the time. If you want to learn more about the Sales Diagnosis process or contact us, please check out our website: funnelmetrics.com.