Sales managers are consistently required to deliver improved performance, not necessarily with increased resources, and even with reduced resources sometimes.
Sound familiar? So, what can you do to ease the pressure and increase the team’s overall success? How can you squeeze more value from those precious resources you have at your disposal?
By re-focusing on a few key practices that have slipped as of late, due to day-to-day pressures, you have an opportunity to improve business performance with minimal additional resources. These key practices include deal qualification, executive summaries, win/loss reviews, client references, and sales discipline. Keep reading to learn how you can make subtle changes in each practice to maximize sales and your team’s performance.
As sales managers, we must ask ourselves the following:
How are we assigning and managing bid budgets/resources in order to maximize sales opportunities? Is there a robust deal qualification process in place that tests our ability to succeed?
Can we sell? Should we sell?
Do my salespeople have clarity as to who will be involved in the client’s decision-making process? Do we understand where political power lies? Most importantly, are we confident that we understand the strength of our relationships with these key players?
And finally, do we have a thought-through executive engagement plan?
These simple questions and qualification steps can significantly increase win rates if applied rigorously once you decide to assign resources and pursue a specific sales opportunity.
When submitting responses to RFIs/RFPs, typically an executive summary is part of the proposal.
As sales managers, are we confident that we have a consistent executive summary framework that focuses on our client’s business goals and challenges? One that is brief, to the point, and engaging for senior executives involved in the client decision-making process?
Revenue Storm coaches have noticed that many executive summaries in sales proposals prioritize the name of the selling company and ramble on about how great their technology or services are rather than starting the focus on the client. Your executive summary should start with the client’s name, their vision, challenges, and the capabilities required to achieve successful business outcomes. It is essential to shift the focus on the client and their need to win business and maximize sales.
Having set out your client’s requirements, a compelling executive summary will go on to document proof of your capabilities and set out how your solution will meet/exceed your client’s business goals. Be sure to include the key delivery executives. Close with personal and corporate commitment in support of the client. Your executive summary should be no more than two to three pages.
This is a valuable source of competitive intelligence.
Win, and a list of reasons why your team won is readily available from your triumphant sales professionals… naturally…
Lose and – well, not so much… typically, you hear “we lost on price,” which, in our experience, is rarely the case.
What we have found, however, is that post-contract clients are usually willing to spend time with sales managers to share their experience of working with your team.
They are happy to provide the reasons your team was selected or the reasons your team was not successful on this occasion, and why a competitor beat you to the prize.
It costs nothing to implement a consistent, simple win/loss review process, which can deliver invaluable competitive insight for future sales engagements. This is priceless!
Without a doubt, this is a potential game changer. One of our most valuable sales resources are our existing clients.
Existing client references, handled well, can make the difference between success and failure as product and service offerings become increasingly more difficult to differentiate around. But this requires you to do these few things:
- The first is pretty obvious, and that is to ensure consistent delivery of high levels of customer satisfaction for existing clients. Are you green on the dashboard?
- Next, it is all about thinking ahead by including a request for a client to act as a potential reference. Around the time you are signing contacts, you can build readily available, referenceable client referrals to use in the future.
- Then, as you initiate a new sales pursuit, pencil in two or three potentially relevant references early in the campaign and have them ready to go when needed.
This will help you avoid what can sometimes become a desperate last-minute scramble to find a suitable and willing client reference.
Sales Discipline –
It is time to remove what we often see as “opt-in” behavior.
Personal behaviors are always more difficult to address. But increasingly, post pandemic, we are seeing disappointing attendance levels to coaching sessions, even though sales managers are investing in world-class sales training and coaching that should form an integral part of that training.
This behavior significantly devalues investment in sales professionals and the focus to strengthen precious sales resources.
By letting the team know that coaching post training is not optional and to expect attendance, these coaching sessions could start to change behaviors in the right direction. In turn, this will deliver greater returns on training investments overall.
And so, as we pause to consider the ever-increasing challenges of delivering next quarter, perhaps by “squeezing the lemon” – or precious sales resources – just a little bit harder, you might find a few more drops of inspiration.
Gain inspiration from applying these practices collectively or individually and in doing so, drive even greater business performance across your sales teams and maximize sales… all without breaking the bank.
Take a look to see which of these types of disciplines you currently have in place – do they need some “dusting off,” or do you need to start to implement some new ones now? Then, at your next sales team meeting, you can introduce some new ideas and techniques your team can start to apply for performance improvement.