When most sales managers think sales improvement, they think Sales Training.
While sales training certainly works (if done consistently) it only improves ONE part of sales – closing ratio. That’s it. And while closing more is important, there are four more areas you should be focusing on to see real, incremental sales growth every quarter.
1. First Meetings –
Let’s face it, if you close 20% of good leads and you have 15 new appointments scheduled next month and the sales cycles is sixty days with an average first sale of $22,000 and a margin of 30% – well….you do the math. It’s a very simple business case to make to spend X amount on marketing. Just make sure that you aren’t paying more than $1,320 per “good lead” and you are bringing more money to the table than before – and you didn’t change anything else. ($ Value of Margin x 20%)
I’ve see smart sales people who had their own marketing consultant working for them (a few times, me!) even though they were employees of a firm. They paid me out of pocket to find them qualified leads.
Think about it….I had a doctor who got $1200 cash for every new client (nevermind the lifetime value of said client). If they paid me $3/000/mo. to find them four qualified leads per month they just banked $4,800 – $3,000 = $1,800. Not bad.
I’ve met smart sales people who didn’t even go through the hassle of getting a marketing budget approved. In industries with a big lifetime customer value or a very high commission (headhunting, insurance, RE, business brokerage, etc.) – they would just hire a marketing consultant one time to set up a marketing program, and then use a low-cost marketing assistant to run the program.
As a bonus, they looked like superstars and no one had any clue.
Good marketing for lead generation is expensive. There are no shortcuts. But an honest marketing consultant will not charge you $5000/mo. The fee will be to set up the program. Afterwards, you should be able to run it with a part-time $10/hr college student.
2. Shorten the Sales Cycle –
Imagine how much time you can free up for your sales reps if you automate some processes like software for proposal generation or other time saving measures?
Here is one way to look at it – if you save your reps (or yourself) 10 minutes a day that frees up 2 extra weeks of selling per year. If you free up 20 minutes a day, that frees up a whole month extra! Think about shortening your sales cycle like being able to magically create a 13 month year out of 12.
3. Split sales and account management –
When I do a Time and Task Analysis with my clients’s teams they are shocked to see the time and dollar value of account management. Look at it like this. If a rep is bringing in $1,500,000 per year and they spend 35% of their time doing account management, then it’s worthwhile to bring on a mid-level account manager to handle the day to day of managing a rep’s accounts. Usually, this would be a high level customer service person who can probably handle the work of 2-3 sales reps.
Sales reps can still step in if a client wants a touch or a call from them, but 95% of service calls can be handled by customer service.
You sell this as an added benefit to the client – now they have a team working for them (clients love this).
And look at the numbers – a CSR supporting three reps just freed up enough time between those reps to equal one extras sales person. You will probably pay your CSR half the amount you pay your front line sales people and in this example, each rep will be able to bring in $2,300,000 a year with the added free time (not to mention the freedom that comes from being able to focus on hunting, not farming).
So those three reps are bringing in $6,900,000 a year not $4,500,000 a year. All for the added support of a $40-60k high level CSR.
4. An Excellent Referral Program –
Most companies assume that their clients will refer them business. A good referral program is proactive, with reminders going out periodically to clients AND staff.
I know one company that offers a $1000 bonus to any employee who brings in a “qualified” lead – there is a form and specifics as to who constitutes a qualified lead. Nevertheless, a couple employees made $5k one year by actively looking for prospects on Linkedin during their slow time at the office. This is time that they would have probably been goofing off on Facebook, but instead, the company made $200k off of these folks.
I like to bring in best practices from effective referral programs for my clients and they can pick and choose from a menu of valuable campaigns to create something that is automated (emails are generated monthly to remind everyone about the referral program) and incentivized with fun gifts and prizes.
More so, a specific sales program is promoted by sales reps they can pass on to clients, prospects and everyone they meet during their sales week. They must actively promote this program and are eager to do so since they also get rewarded with prizes and money for their affiliate “brokers”.
5. Sales Training –
Yes, let’s not forget sales training. It is very effective for increasing closing ratios.
The best kind of sales training is done regularly and specifically with marginal performers and all front-facing staff. More so, sales role play is taught to sales leaders to perform weekly with their teams.
I am shocked at the number of sales leaders who have no clue about how to run sales role play. Don’t get me started. Therefore, virtually all sales people HATE role playing and dread their turn in the gauntlet.
I teach a pro-active and positive way of running role play where Excellence of Selling is called out and everyone involved increases their selling power after every session. If done correctly, role play is the single best tool to help sales people improve their closing abilities.
I teach a half day workshop where I “Train the Trainers” and show them how to be inspirational sales coaches. Not critics. It works.
Bottom line, sales training, but also the sales cycle, number of first meetings, dollars per sales and many other factors can affect your top line revenue.
It is important to take a 360 degree look at your whole sales organization, and work with a Sale Engineer who can create a Sales Factory where improvement is incremental, constant and ongoing.
(Andrew Grinbaum is a Sales Engineer and Marketing Automation Expert who helps small companies turbo-charge their sales team, hire top performers, and create a culture of winning – he can be reached at 786-440-7486. or Andy at sales-professors dot com.)