Improving any part of your business demands both learning and practice.
But there's only so much attention that you can give to a project while you keeping sales rolling in.
So a good place to start to conserve your brain power is to standardise your "sales process", so that it demands less conscious thought, freeing you up for a more creative approach.
That's what we advise clients embarking on a journey to grow sales revenue.
In sales and marketing, there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle when it comes to serving your customers (and getting new ones!), especially in the technology market.
In technology, we always know that our solutions will change over time. Being able innovate rapidly to respond to changes and competition, without slip-ups, is critical.
There are so many places to have sales and marketing conversations (email, social, chat, LinkedIn) that having a simple, standard system. Companies that also use a management and reporting system well have an advantage of focus. Don't just "set and forget" - a critical process like sales needs to be "debugged" - using a "test and measure" approach.
What works in your deal stages, what doesn't?
It's way too much work to do the whole job manually when you have multiple sellers and complex sales. But no-one wants to spend more time on the sales management platform that they do selling.
Sales Process Management
In our experience, smaller and mid-sized tech companies avoid the big CRMs and marketing systems; there's too much work to do to set things up. They never get to the critical strategy piece as they will hurrying to recoup their technology investment.
So they tend to use lots of small "free" tools strung together loosely, leaving a lot of record keeping (which no-one ever does!) to sales people, while they keep doing all of the steps manually.
This leaves managers basically in the dark, with critical elements missing:
- Data Quality. Salespeople hate recording data - it's a chore (but shouldn't be).
- Forecast accuracy. Not updating deals regularly - because it's a chore.
- Deal Velocity. Deals move slowly, because they doesn't rate high on the client's priority list - the sales approach is at fault here.
- Low Productivity. It takes a lot of work to learn a wide variety of tools and then to use them well. If they all need to be connected to each other, then someone ends up needing to devote time and brain-space to maintain the linkages and the system - that can be costly when it is customised to your company only.
- Errors. When data flows between many systems and is used, it takes a lot to make sure that the linkages are error free.
WHY SPEND ALL THAT BRAIN POWER, ANYWAY?
If you think that you're OK, because your sales system is primitive and just relies on your sales guy networking and calling your loyal customers, then think again.
In the new world of sales, the buyer can (and will) find solutions themselves (Internet search has changed everything) or is now in your competitor's sales funnel. They're not sitting still - they want to grow the customer base.
And the manual way?
If you spend your life as a salesperson, then you spend a lot of unproductive time prospecting.
- The average sales development rep makes 52 calls, daily
- It takes 18 dial attempts to connect with a single buyer
- Call-back rates are <1%
People managing sales need to look to turbocharge their sales reps by helping them with automation tools.
SO, ABOUT USING THAT BRAIN POWER more wisely?
The key is to simplify:
- Set your sales goals and make sure they are realistic.
- Get a sales process framework that helps you make more sense to a client, and practice all of the steps.
- Look for platforms that improve and inform sellers, but automatically generate the dashboards that help managers and staff.
- Get a common KPI that keeps sales and marketing connecting. Does it relate well to your goals?
Look for some simple collaboration tools, that let you set tasks and deadlines.
Look for a system that lets your wider team collaborate: it might be you and your own staff, a contractor or two, an agency, and other specialists (designers, off-shore resource, inside sales) - there's no guarantee that people will all be together. So consider who you want in the system to help you sell, and what they will do..
Here are the three waypoints to being able to get your creative thinking capacity back.
FiRst - A STRATEGY THAT TIES IT ALL TOGETHER
If everyone understands a common "philosophy" that will drive results, then there's a much greater chance that all of the effort with produce meaningful results. That's why, when I researched the ideas behind Inbound Marketing that I could get with the program.
We are convinced that if you can start to understand how your ideal customers think at each point on their journey, then you'll be able to build the right approach to them.
We've been seeing amazing results in working with new clients, moving them to this approach and starting out from the sales perspective.
Second - TRAINING!
Getting everyone using a common, easy-to-use platform is a fine ideal, but allow people the opportunity to train, learn and get a certification. Small and Medium business often let the ball drop in this area when there's unrelenting revenue pressure.
Don't underestimate the value that training (and certification!) will bring you back when efficiency and productivity bring in better sales, more quickly.
There's even a wealth of free training where video and testing is used for maximum effectiveness.
Reinforcement with some practical exercises and an on-line test make sure that the people picking up new skills or doing a refresher will get it right.
Lastly - A SINGLE PLACE TO FIND THINGS!
When the team is going to the same place for
- the data and intelligence
- the list of who does what by when
- the creative materials
- the communications sequencing
- the reports on how it is all going
then it's harder to have people in the dark about what's going on.
And having everything together helps you compare this sales campaign with the next one, too!