Column: A formula for building up sales

By Andi Gray

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We haven’t had good experience turning things over to salespeople. We give them leads and they don’t turn that into business. Later on we find out that they didn’t do a good job on following up. Or they followed up but couldn’t turn the lead into a sale. Not sure how to better manage this.

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Your job includes managing both salespeople and sales activities. Make sure that you have the right people in place doing the right job. Save time and effort by knowing the profile of who you want to sell to. Get salespeople involved in the effort so that they place greater value on the leads. Check out the ROI on sales activities.

Before you start hiring, check if you have a good way to know what’s going on in sales. Track new entries in the system, attempts to connect, people contacted and conversions from one stage of sales to the next. You don’t want to find out down the road that time was lost and money was wasted because sales efforts weren’t focused enough or were insufficient to get the job done.

Clear space in your calendar to analyze, coach and direct to ensure things are on track in sales. Follow-up should be organized and systematic; set goals and benchmark performance based on those. Be sure to stay on top of all the new sales activity.

A good sales team is crucial; not all salespeople are good at all parts of the sales process. Some can open doors, others are good at conveying information and some can elicit action. Success in sales is all about getting the right people in the right positions at the right time.

It’s better to split the job of selling into parts. Hire salespeople who can work together and complement each other. Avoid one solution fits all, where your salesperson does a part of sales well, but misses the boat on the others. Hold all salespeople accountable for delivering on their piece of the sales funnel.

First you have to open doors. Qualified lists save time; weed out leads who are unlikely to show interest. Hire someone who can make a lot of phone calls and who can make an impact when they get through. Ask that person to break down doors, gather and convey information. In this stage expect relentless discipline at dialing the phone constantly.

Next comes each prospect doing an evaluation. Is this useful? Why your company? Why now? Given all the other demands on your prospect’s time and resources, getting them to actively engage is about building trust, creating urgency and gaining commitment. Get salespeople who are comfortable challenging the status quo as they get people to follow their lead.

When it comes to building up sales activity, remember that most people value what they have to work for to achieve. The same is true for lead generation. Handing out leads as if they were no big deal to get and you’ll likely find that salespeople don’t value them. Having to figure out which prospects to go after, salespeople get more engaged with each one that has merit and are more inclined to keep working the lead.

Figure out the conversion rate on each stage of the sales funnel. Lay out on paper the amount needed at each stage to generate one sale. Now multiply that by the number of total sales needed. Decide how much activity each salesperson can deliver, figure out how many salespeople you need and work out a cost of the whole sales team. Compare cost to output. You want to get your sales costs under 30 percent of gross profit, even better if you can get it under 20 percent. Keep figuring out how to reduce effort and increase output until you can get the results you want.

LOOKING FOR A GOOD BOOK? Try “The Sales Development Playbook: Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales” by Trish Bertuzzi.

Andi Gray is President of Strategy Leaders Inc., a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535, AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles: AskAndi.com.

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About the author

Andi Gray
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., strategyleaders.com, a business consulting firm that specializes in helping small to midsize, privately held businesses achieve doubled revenues and tripled profits in repetitive growth cycles. Interested in learning how Strategy Leaders can help your business? Call now for a free consultation and diagnostic process: (877) 238-3535. Do you have a question for Andi? Email her: AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Visit AskAndi.com for an entire library of her articles.

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