Each year annual sales quotas and long-term goals are set. While they are important, when too focused on the end game, it is easy to take your eye off the pipelines. To keep new leads coming into the pipeline, also set manageable prospecting goals.
It makes sense to start strong at the beginning of the year and avoid the pressure of playing catch up. We will review what you might see in your organization, and what to avoid.
Shaking the trees
When looking for new revenue sources, many sales teams “shake the trees” to see what falls out. This sales strategy compares to throwing the dice and surprisingly more common than you might think. When these organizations find there are no prospects in the pipeline, they cast a wide net with the hope of catching “anyone, ” and the sales funnel gets clogged with Painful Undesirable customers. (PU Customers)
These painful undesirable customers come with a high price:
- Your company will be nickel-and-dimed and expected to deliver additional services at no charge.
- The painful undesirable customers persistently challenge your team’s expertise and with questions about every decision.
- It won’t be long before your resources are drained (along with your energy).
- Your team will want to find another job, but will be too exhausted and demoralized to take action.
- As a result, profit margins will be squeezed.
- Painful undesirables hang out with other PUs which means their referrals will also be demanding and painful.
Social media – Not as powerful as the hype says it is
While the tools do empower sales teams to move more quickly with greater frequency, social media and technology do not replace relationships.
Technology alone will not get you in front of decision-makers. Relationships will.
Social media is a great way to conduct research, to better understand your referral network, and to start conversations with people you otherwise might never have met.
Social media networks are not a place or method to sell effectively. Connecting with a conversation one-to-one is how real relationships grow.
Persistent dialing can create false positives within the metrics. “We dialed 100 prospects” looks good on paper until a deeper dive shows a lack of revenue results. Even if you have crafted a perfect introduction, written a glowing email, and connected via social media with your sales pitch, these are not by definition “warm calls.”
Without an introduction from someone your prospect knows and trusts, your phone call, email, or LinkedIn message is still a cold call. (Though it is a researched and informed cold call.)
Instead of a dialing-for-dollars plan, a referral strategy can be a critical element to growing revenue. When you fully commit to referral selling, your plan will include a measurable and sustainable referral plan and an elimination of unproductive prospecting techniques. With such a commitment, you are more likely to get meetings with prospects who want to meet you.
Referrals often convert into new clients more than 50 percent of the time. With an effective referral strategy, you can expect to reduce the cost of sales and shorten the time to obtain new clients.
Re-Qualify Your Pipeline
Using your qualification criteria, re-examine the opportunities to determine if they are qualified or if wishful thinking exists. Taking time to re-qualify those in your pipeline will identify gaps in your funnel management process. Remove any unqualified deal from your pipeline.
Identify the Deals That Never Close
Every sales organization is tracking potential deals which never close and yet stay on the books. These perpetual “maybe” opportunities slide from one-quarter to the next and continue to be included in forecasts.
If a deal has been carried over more than twice, it is time to for a closer evaluation to consider what’s missing. What assumptions are inaccurate? Is more research required? Why is the opportunity slipping through from period to period multiple times? Create a plan to identify and fix the opportunity… or remove it from the pipeline.
Based on the win rate formula, win rate multiplied by pipeline does not equal results if the pipeline quality is not up to standard. With selling resources at a premium, sales leaders should focus on the quality of the pipeline and the effectiveness of the sales team.
Sales win rate averages:
Is the percent of opportunities proposed or quoted that the organization won. It’s based on opportunities making it to the proposal stage, not all opportunities that enter the pipeline.
The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research surveyed 472 sellers and sales executives representing companies with salesforces ranging in size from 10 sellers to 5,000+. What is the average sales win rate, and how do win rates vary based on overall performance?
Research from across all respondents, the average win rate was 47%.
Here are statistics courtesy of the National Sales Executive Association showing the reality of how sales do not come from the first contact. A reliable CRM system, a well-trained team and a process to follow-up will get better results.
Even without a magic kick-start machine to create a surge of leads to start the new year, it is a perfect time to reevaluate and make adjustments.
If you need assistance with creating a sales funnel map, start here: