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An in-depth look at what should be measured in every sales process, how to set goals for and measure it and how to
manage sales people to achieve business growth.

Published in: Business, Technology


  1. 1. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES GROWTH Business Growth ebook Series Craig Klein
  2. 2. Table of Contents Business Growth eBook Series iii Meet Your Hosts v Featured Expert—Jim Wilkinson vii Featured Sponsor— ix Manage a Sales Process of Actions that Lead to Sales 1 Sales Forecasting—Why Does it Matter? 2 Break Down the Sales Process 5 The Art of Sales Forecasting 11 Reliable Forecasting 15 Next Steps 21 Page ii
  3. 3. Business Growth eBook Series We want you to grow your business. It is really that simple. In fact, we surround ourselves with companies who share our belief that when we help you grow your business, everyone wins. We believe that when we help you grow your business, we also help grow communities, families, employers and our customers. We have created this series of eBooks—in conjunction with a webinar series—to help you expand opportunities for growth in your company. This is true even if you are not a SalesNexus customer…even if you use one of our competitors…we want to share what we have found to be useful for business growth. Many businesses have great products and a great team, yet still struggle to master the strategies and tactics of connecting with their market, standing out from the competition and closing sales. Toward that goal, we have assembled a team of experts to share the best of what they know really works. Nothing is held back or saved only for those who are clients of our individual company. Each eBook is packed with practical steps any business can take immediately without busting the budget. Below you will find a list of eBooks and webinars in this series. While each eBook builds on what was presented in the eBooks earlier in the series, you can choose to take them in any order. However, we strongly suggest you read the first eBook or attend that webinar to get an understanding of how the information fits all together. To Your Business Growth, Craig Klein, CEO SalesNexus Page iii
  4. 4. Business Growth Series THE MAGIC 5 OF CONTENT BASED EMAIL MARKETING THAT DRIVES SALES The Magic 5 of Content Based Email Marketing that Drives Sales Business Growth ebook Series Held on January 16h, 2013 A simple 5 step process to create on-going, automated email campaigns that engage your audience and identify highly qualified prospects. Craig Klein How to Qualify Sales Leads and Focus on Sales Growth that’s Profitable Held January 30th, 2013 An in-depth look at how to use simple questioning techniques to determine if a sales lead will purchase and the powerful impact of consistent qualifying. Building a Successful Marketing and Sales Process by Identifying Your Customer’s “Pain” Held on January 23rd, 2013 An in-depth investigation of how to identify the emotional circumstances that cause customers to buy from you, how to question prospects to diagnose their “pains” and build sales processes that win! Manage a Sales Process of Actions that Lead to Sales Growth Held on February 6th, 2013 An in-depth look at what should be measured in every sales process, how to set goals for and measure it and how to manage sales people to achieve business growth. 360 degree View of the Customer Relationship for Business Growth The 4 Pillars of a Sales Messaging Strategy that Drives Growth Held on February 13th, 2013 An in-depth look at how strong relationships between customers and companies drive business growth and the risk of mistaking a customer to sales person relationship with a customer to company relationship. Held on February 20th, 2013 How to communicate what your products and services do for your customers, get their attention and understand their needs, with Michael Halper, author of “The Cold Calling Equation” Page iv
  5. 5. Meet Your Hosts Craig Klein, CEO, As CEO, Craig Klein leads a team that is on a mission to help your business grow. They accomplish this goal by providing an online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that is fully integrated with an email marketing system. Klein brings more than 18 years sales executive and management experience to designing SalesNexus solutions. SalesNexus is a different kind of CRM and email system for many reasons. Perhaps the most meaningful is the company recognizes that one size will not fit all in business. Since key people of the company come from a sales background, they know how to work with you to find unique solutions specific to you, your business and your customers. Thousands of sales teams from around the world have discovered that SalesNexus takes the hard work out of selling. That way you can focus on the people part of serving your customers. They know that you enjoy sales because you enjoy people. SalesNexus will maximize the time you spend establishing deep relationships with your best customers. This team feels success when they make marketing and selling easier for you. That is why SalesNexus is hosting this Business Growth series of webinars and eBooks Don’t forget that SalesNexus offers a 30-day free trial of their program so you can try it out…look around… ask questions to determine if it is the right fit for you. During the free trial period, you can also download your choice of 500 business contacts—with email addresses—at no cost at all via Learn more about LeadFerret below. Page v
  6. 6. MEET YOUR HOSTS Forrest Cassidy, CEO, Lead Ferret is the world’s first 100% free business-to-business database with complete information. They offer more than 10 million easily searchable B2B contacts—with emails—FREE. In today’s business environment, it is critical that you use your time in the most time efficient manner possible. The objective of Lead Ferret is to make prospecting and generating leads easier for sales teams, recruiters, and small business owners. The LeadFerret system allows you to spend less time prospecting and more time selling…and that leaves more time to do the things you really love to do. Learn more about Lead Ferret on a following page. Page vi
  7. 7. Featured Expert—Jim Wilkinson Jim Wilkinson, CEO of The Strategic CFO serves the financial needs of small to mid-cap companies. The company services include consulting, coaching and retained search for financial professionals. With more than 30 years as a financial executive, his organization has advised entrepreneurs on management and financial issues since 1990. He has a unique blend of strategic finance, accounting and management skills. He recognized the gap between audit-focused accounting firms and the often limited financial skills of small to mid-sized business owners. He launched the creation of The Strategic CFO to meet that critical need. His background in financial reporting, banking relationships, financial information systems and taxation has driven him to design tools and proven processes that yield improved cash flow and enhanced management reporting for his clients. He has built highly trained teams of financial professionals to serve in many ways. • Consulting: Problems arise in managing growth. It can be a wrenching and chaotic process. Growth, by definition, causes dramatic changes in the growing company. New systems, skill sets and processes are required. While it would be great if these growth periods were seamless and smooth, most of the time it is simply not feasible. The Strategic CFO developed a unique 8-Step-Process that shortens the time for a CFO to achieve results. This process drives improved profits and cash flow—without the staffing cost of a full-time CFO. Page vii
  8. 8. FEATURED EXPERT—MICHAEL HALPER • Coaching: Business Controllers and Financial Managers have often struggled with finding a path to become a CFO. There are three most common ways to achieve this goal: ○○ On the job training…this route is time-consuming and risky. It can fail due to the trial and error aspect of the training or the quality of the experience. ○○ Work under a CFO…which can also be a “hit or miss” route. Since most growth companies cannot afford a large financial department until they reach a certain income level, there is simply not a mentor available to teach them. ○○ CFO Coaching…this option allows the achievement of CFO abilities much more quickly than the routes dependent on trial and error. It greatly shortens the 10-20 years needed to develop the skills any other way. • Retained Search: Finding the right CFO for your organization is difficult. Most business owners hire multiple CFO before finding the right fit. This is an inefficient and costly way to approach the need. Strategic CFO has developed a way a Retained Search method that will help you hire a CFO that knows your culture and the skills required to achieve your targeted growth projections. We can improve your chances of a long-term solution in growing your business. Page viii
  9. 9. Featured Sponsor— Lead Ferret is a sales organization’s most powerful source of new business. Like it says on the Lead Ferret website, when you access this service—it is like adding 10 million+ contacts to your address book. The database contains complete information including email addresses…and so much more. It’s free to join, so go check it out. Throughout this series, we will be showing you how to use this contact information and implement strategies for business growth in an efficient, time-saving and highly professional manner. If you are a SalesNexus user you can download 500 free contacts a month. You can even take advantage of this free offer during the free trial on SalesNexus. Since some people say that, “2 minutes on LeadFerret is worth 2 hours on LinkedIn.”— you should take a few minutes to learn more. Every record in LeadFerret is complete with company information, name, title, address and phone number. You can search by SIC and NACIS codes. You can search by location in several ways, including a map tool. Page ix
  10. 10. FEATURED SPONSOR—LEADFERRET.COM The methods we are showing you in this series will demonstrate how to use this robust interface to grow your business. In the first eBook, you will learn how to identify your ideal prospect. You may have a geographical territory or there may be a size of business that fits well with your product/service. You can search in terms of revenue range, industry, department within the company and the title of the individual you should contact. You simply plug the demographic details into the LeadFerret system. You get a list of target prospects to download into SalesNexus. You have spent much less time finding the right type of person and can now spend more time connecting with high quality prospects and building relationships. It all fits together with one purpose—to Grow Your Business. Page x
  12. 12. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Sales Forecasting—Why Does it Matter? Forecasting sales is important way beyond the aspect of sales. It provides crucial information from the point of view of business management and finance too. Although a powerful CRM like SalesNexus makes the process much easier, you don’t need a CRM to gather the data. It can be tracked on a spreadsheet or paper log if needed. Whatever the tool for tracking, you need to start measuring your pipeline to grow your business. If you start with another system, you can upgrade to a more sophisticated system later. How a Forecast Gets Used Many people see a sales forecast report as a tool for managing the sales people. The sales manager tracks sales progress toward goals on an individual and overall team basis. It also shows how the sales person is doing relative to their quota, etc. The sales manager is able to pinpoint where the sales rep may need help in specific areas. Sales managers run pipeline reports prior to meeting with the sales people. They usually pick a few things that catch their attention and really dig into what might be improved. The meetings can reveal a lot about their selling approach, their strengths and weaknesses. It gives them a clue whether they can count on the particular deals to close. The forecast provides a benchmark to compare sales people to each other. A competitive framework will often cause the sales people to work harder to be on top of the heap. Page 2
  13. 13. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES There are all sorts of other benefits that a good sales forecast brings to a business. Many are related to how you run the business at the ownership or executive level. An important use of a sales forecast directly relates to financial management of the company. Cash and Cash Flow You’ve got to have cash to drive the engine of the business. As an entrepreneur and their CFO, they are really concerned with not running out of cash. The more you grow—the more cash you need. It’s crucial to make projections of the cash position of the company in advance for the next 30, 60, 90 days. Otherwise a company cannot grow to its fullest potential. Sales Forecasting Importance No sales = No profits No profits = No cash flow No cash flow = No Business The more accurate the projection, the more ability the company has for growth. Projections that are too high or too low can jeopardize the company’s future. If your sales forecast is off, your profits will go down. When the numbers are accurate, you can run your business and plan your cash needs. When Projections are Too Low With projections too low, you may end up under resourced and unable to capitalize on the opportunities available. You will end up with lower profits. When you under estimate your sales and you are out of cash— you are in a cash bind. All of the sudden you can’t fulfill orders as quickly or operations stop executing efficiently. For the salesperson, delivering on the sales forecast is key. Page 3
  14. 14. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES When Projections are Too High Projections that are too high might cause you to allocate too much resource based on an overly rosy forecast. You may have higher than necessary staff and inventory, plus other expenses. If you don’t achieve your sales forecast, you are going to end up upside down. Profits will obviously be down. Business Financing If a business is growing, they will often seek a line of credit at the bank. The bank will want you to provide the sales pipeline on a monthly basis for the next 12 months. Some companies may only have three or six months of sales projections…but the more you have lined out in books and can project out, the more the banker feels comfortable being aggressive in loaning you money. The banker will want to see more than an extrapolation of last year’s numbers. The forecasts you provide must be based on specific market intelligence and sales based projections. When you have access to a line of credit, you can grow faster and close more sales. You have the money and liquidity to execute the growth plan. That is a big benefit. There is nothing that a CFO can do to make an organization more profitable if you can’t accurately forecast sales and close sales. They depend on the data to be able to help your company make money. Page 4
  15. 15. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Break Down the Sales Process It’s difficult to manage salespeople if all you know is what they sold. You can’t really do it. The sales people are not in total control—the customer is the one in control. What the sales person can control is the actions taken that lead to the purchase. That is the sales process. Once you start measuring those discrete steps in the process, you have an entirely different perspective of what sales will ultimately be for the company. Eventually you can get to a point where you can say…last month we made X number of cold calls that resulted in Y number of sales. Based on the previous month’s performance you can forecast future sales based on every step of the sales process. That is empowering to the salespeople because they don’t have to show up every day stressed about which customer is going to buy. They just need to show up every day and make their cold calls and follow the rest of the defined sales process. Simplified Example Steps in a Sales Process • Cold calls made or emails sent • From those initial connections, you set appointments • At the appointment, you make presentations • From there, you do proposals • After the proposal, you start closing You then begin to find areas where things get stuck. You may find that you make the cold calls, you set a lot of appointments, you are doing a lot of presentations and sending out a lot of proposals. But things just don’t move past that. You see that very few go from proposal to order. That’s powerful information. What you may learn is that you are not doing a very good job of qualifying or you’re not establishing the value of your product before you do a proposal. If you know that, you can add a step to better qualify or better establish value. Page 5
  16. 16. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Breaking down the steps of the sales process and measuring each step lets salespeople spend less time with unqualified prospects and more time finding new prospects and closing the one that are qualified. This can cause a radical shift in the sales pipeline. Salespeople have a limited amount of time. They are often compensated based on performance. On one level, they have all the incentive in the world to work as hard as possible. But there is still only so much time in the day. In a B2B world, your customers are only available during certain windows of time. The salesperson needs to maximize the time spent with prospects that have a high probability to purchase. You can’t entirely control whether or not you talk to highly qualified prospects. You can control which ones you spend a lot of time with and that is the magic of qualifying. Asking good qualifying questions will help you uncover their pain. When you are aware of their pain, you know how your products really benefit them. That establishes value and helps you build a better relationship with the customer. You build strong rapport when you really understand the customer. What Should be Measured? In your sales pipeline and sales process, you need to determine what will be valuable to measure. It will have very different criteria depending on your business. You’ve got to define what those steps are in the process. What are the objective things that you can measure about a customer? • • • • What can you ask them to make them qualified? How many qualifying questions do you want to ask initially? Once you engage with them, what other qualifying questions need answers? How many big things are you doing such as proposals, presentations, appointments, responding to RFPs and other things that consume a lot of your time. Page 6
  17. 17. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES You want to measure and record all of the steps that your process requires. There is no secret sauce as to how many things you need to measure. There is the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid.) You don’t want to make it any more complex than necessary. The difficulty is we’re trying to measure a process unfolding that we are not in total control of…the customer is. This is our sales process—the things we do—but what really matters are what the customer does…their buying process. You want to carefully consider the steps that a buyer typically goes through and marry that with the steps we are taking (and measuring). In B2C companies, an entirely different set of steps should be measured. They may want to measure things that indicate performance. Things like response time to an incoming lead. Knowing the average response time and correlating it to sales performance is important information to have. If in one week the average response time to an incoming lead is an hour, and then next week the average is down to 15 minutes, you will see clearly if there is a correlating result. You may learn if faster response times lead to better sales. For those who get prospects from trade shows, you are putting a lot of energy into promoting and sending invitations. When you measure the number of people who show up at the events, you can compare it to the activities you did to achieve those results as an indicator of future performance. You can measure raw numbers of incoming calls or the downloads of your white papers and things like that. Of course you want to measure the open rate and clicks for emails. Page 7
  18. 18. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Using Automation for Measuring Steps When you are doing it manually, you will want to minimize the steps you measure. If your source of business is primarily referrals, you may only need to record three steps. It can boil down the number of referrals, meetings and proposals/engagement letters. You can track the close percentage by only those three steps. • Referrals to closed sales • Trade show leads to closed sales 100 Leads Demonstration • Online database contacts downloaded to closed sales Needs Analysis Qualify • Incoming calls to closed sales 40 Leads Proposals With a CRM tracking the sales process steps, you can get all sorts of ratios to forecast future sales. You can begin at the point of downloading potential prospects from an online source like LeadFerret—through all the critical steps within your sales process—to the actual closed sales. You can calculate ratios based on a number of criteria: 20 Leads 10 Leads 2 Orders • Web leads to closed sales • And any other source of prospects 4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks 4 weeks Simply take the number of prospect leads and divide it by the actual sales closed to get a ratio. Knowing what source of prospects brings the highest profitability will help you to target your marketing activities and perhaps eliminate the ones that have high cost and relatively low return. The Pipeline Follow the same calculation down through the steps of the sales process and you can compare the raw lead numbers to the number of meetings scheduled—or—the ratio of meetings compared to proposals, etc. Target Clients Leads Opportunities Prospects Page 8
  19. 19. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Jim Wilkinson, CEO of The Strategic CFO, tells how they tracked referrals, meetings and engagement letters in his business. They learned that about 25% of the referrals received would close. When they had a first meeting, the close ratio was about 50%. When the second meeting took place to give them an engagement letter, they were able to close about 70% of those. He readily admitted that the numbers were unusually high because more than 90% of the business was the result of very strong referrals from bankers, CPAs or attorneys. But when he projected sales, having the percentage of closings and knowing the number of referrals in the pipeline allowed him to have a very accurate guesstimate of meetings, engagement letters and closings. He could then take the numbers and project them out mathematically what percentage of those would close and extrapolate his sales income stream. Web Campaign Lead Results With a lot of internet based marketing, you are sending potential customers to your website and converting leads from the website. One of the things that can be misleading is the volume of leads that result. A lot of people wrestle with the volume of leads compared to the number you can get closed. You may start a new online advertising campaign. It can be a banner ad running on some site or just a payper-click campaign. Sometimes, for very counter-intuitive reasons, you can drive a lot of traffic to your site and you can drive a lot of conversion of leads. But those leads won’t be highly qualified sales leads. So what can happen is the sales people become very busy, but they ultimately don’t close a lot of sales. If you have a long sales cycle or a multi-step sales cycle, it can really get you into trouble. You can cover up the sales staff with leads that they can’t close very well. You may not catch what has happened for weeks or months. Page 9
  20. 20. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES That is a great reason to measure the close rate as a percentage of total leads in addition to qualified leads. Knowing how many leads are getting disqualified will help you optimize your advertising spending. In a lot of businesses, online advertising can be a large part of your monthly expense. Multiple Product Lines and Industries Just like we can’t tell you how many steps you want to measure in your business, some companies have different product lines and maybe even different industries served by what they sell. Some will be big deals and others may be small. You may get a really high close rate for the strong opportunities like referrals. You may have the opposite, with lower close rates on sources like your website. Each area will tell you what you need to measure if you look at the process a buyer goes through before the purchase. From a forecasting point of view, these are things you need to know. You may want to differentiate the areas when you put together your forecast. Within each area, you might want to measure based on product, division of the company or by sales person. It is helpful to note the delivery time process as well. Some might have a 6-12 month backlog and others a 3-6 month delivery process. Depending on the division, you have a different close rate and you have a different timing of when the sale is fulfilled. Page 10
  21. 21. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES The Art of Sales Forecasting Getting a truly accurate reading on cash flow can become complex. When a deal closes, it can still be months before the sale hits the books after delivery. From a revenue point of view, you need to look at manufacture and shipping times. • Some products/services have a lower profit margin • The size of the deal may affect the profit margins • Different territories may yield higher profits • Different products may bring larger profit margins • Source of leads needs to be considered too ○○ Trade shows may bring tremendous opportunities (big tickets and high profit) ○○ Internet marketing may bring smaller opportunities with lower margin Measuring the profit potential in your advertising mix will help you see the differences and how to optimize your investment. Sales Forecasting is Not a Closed System Most companies manage the sales pipeline as a closed system. You see the leads come in…they go through the pipeline…and revenue comes out the other end. The problem with that thinking is when you only know what comes out at the other end, you have no ability to adjust or compensate or do anything about it other than get more leads and insert them into the pipeline. Page 11
  22. 22. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES This mentality can cost a lot of money in terms of advertising, marketing and you may even need to hire another salesperson to handle the additional leads. It is a big investment. You don’t have data to optimize what happens with the leads that go into the sales pipeline if you are not measuring what happens while the lead is inside the system. Measuring each step in the sales process allows you to learn why opportunities stall and where. Your pipeline really looks like the drawing on the left—right? It is not a closed system. Not everybody that comes into the sales pipeline closes. If they do for you, please let us know how you do it. Most businesses are lucky if they get a 20-30% close rate. So you know you have a lot of leakage coming out of your pipeline. You need to know why. What is that leakage? What’s the trigger that causes people to stop in the pipeline or even leave the pipeline? A real common example is after the proposal. Are the buyers just getting sticker shock? Did they not really fully understand what type of investment they were looking at? Do they simply see the proposal and just go “Oh, wow, I can’t do that.” If that is the case, you realize that you have not really established why that investment is a healthy one for them. Maybe the proposal is coming too early in the process? You may even need to do a few other things before you get in front of them. That’s a real common sales mistake. Sales Page 12
  23. 23. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES people can be anxious to get the order…so they jump forward to things like proposals, when that should be near the end of the process. If you do demos and presentations, are you running around and spending lots of energy presenting to unqualified prospects? If you are, the leads will come into the pipeline and then as soon as they are given a demo, they don’t go any further…or only a few go to the next step. • Are the wrong people getting the demo? • Is the decision-maker at the demo? • Is the budget ROI case not clear? • Have you established before or during the presentation why the investment is going to impact and improve the prospect’s business? These are some of the eye-openers that will come out of measuring your sales pipeline in a way that allows you to think about what you can do about improving. It is powerful information. Sometimes a company can make a few adjustments in the process and increase revenue as much as 10% or more in a period of just a few months. They do it without hiring new sales people. They don’t invest in any new marketing or advertising campaign. They just measure and adjust to what they have learned. Jim Wilkinson’s 3 Ways to Improve Profitability 1. Procurement—cut costs 2. Pricing—increase prices or gross profit 3. Manage Productivity—the silver bullet Managing productivity is called the silver bullet because you don’t have to cut costs, lay off people, or change prices. You just need to get more done with the same resource. If you can improve the close rate and increase the productivity of the sales force, profits and cash flow improve. Page 13
  24. 24. Leads Leads 4 weeks Leads 4 weeks Leads 4 weeks 4 weeks MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Don’t React Immediately Once you get started with gathering this data, you may want to react immediately to what you see. You should assume that it will take some time to get accurate data. Sometimes it will take a while to average out and you don’t want to over react too early. Instead, you want to get a feel for the benchmarks. You may instinctively feel like your salespeople just aren’t making enough cold calls or developing enough new prospects. You expect the data to show you something to confirm your belief they aren’t making enough calls. You want to set a higher expectation there. Be cautious. The Pipeline Target Clients Leads Opportunities Prospects Pending Win/Loss Let time go by and let the data make your case for you. Share it with your team and let them see what’s happening. Then project the sales like we talked about earlier. Base the projection on the individual sales person. This is particularly true when there are manufacturing costs or other variable cost based on the product and service you are offering. Project based on territory and size of opportunity. Within each of the categories, you may want to develop different measurements. Page 14
  25. 25. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Reliable Forecasting As a management tool, particularly if it is automated with a CRM like SalesNexus, you can see trends and know sooner what you need to anticipate. It is very important to watch the trends on a month to month period rather than sporadically. Then you can react to them in a timely manner. You may find there is magic in looking at the pipeline reports on a weekly basis. That way you can sit down with each sales rep in a weekly meeting and everybody’s attention is focused on the results. The sales reps are more likely to furnish accurate data. With everyone paying attention to the numbers, it all gets dialed in to what can be done about it. You can’t make it a once or twice a year type of exercise. Sample Spreadsheet Your company spreadsheet will look different…but Jim Wilkinson’s company, the Strategic CFO, is providing this one as an example. You can take the numbers of existing sales and build your monthly revenue projections for the next 12 months (6-12 months). • Start with existing booked sales • Segment by sales person • Probability of closing is 100% for booked sales • Opportunity prospects become more of a guesstimate—however a good CRM can give you the tools to estimate more accurately based on previous situations and qualifying standards. • The probability of closing ranges from 90% to 25% in this example. The lower number is better than nothing and keeps the prospect in the pipeline. Page 15
  26. 26. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES • Have good statistical data from your CRM. The banker will feel a lot more confident in a 87% chance of closing than the more general figure of 90%. • The banker is likely to look at individual opportunities and ask you specific questions about them. You will need to be able to talk to them about the prospects. • You can create a spreadsheet based on product line, steps in the sales process and any other data that is significant to showing the health of the pipeline forecast. The spreadsheet can be scaled up and down. Jim tells of a $30 million company that manufactured large equipment. In those cases, you would use both the probability of closing and the date you expect it to close. So, you would say 90% of the probability is to close in June. You would forecast 90% of the number in June. Page 16
  27. 27. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Case Study Jim Wilkinson developed the spreadsheet template above when working with a real life company. They told him they wanted to go to the bank to double a line of credit. They had gone through the recession and were coming out on the other side. Sales were growing and they needed cash to allow expansion. The bank was saying that the last couple of years had losses and although the company was starting to make money, they were not sure about extending more credit. The client had opportunities that justified the confidence in growth—but it was all in their head. Jim worked with the client to use the template and lay it out on paper. While it is preferable to furnish data with more detail (like steps in the sales process), this was sufficient information for the bank to give the loan. They had a great year and have been doing fine thereafter. Having the funds for growth allowed them to expand revenues at a rate of 30% instead of just 10%. Forecasting vs Historical Data Bankers like to see pipeline forecasts. Most entrepreneurs take last year’s sales and project it up to something like 120% projected growth. The banker may ask why you think the business will increase by 20% and the business owner responds with a statement of confidence in their future growth. When you can identify specific opportunities, the banker is more willing to talk to you. If you have a fourth to half of your sales identified, you can also include an “unidentified sales” line item. For example, you are going to do 10 million in sales and you’ve only identified 5 million. You can have a line item that says new Page 17
  28. 28. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES business or something else to indicate it has not yet been identified. If you demonstrate that you can identify your sales for the next 3-6 months, the banker will have more confidence that you know what you are doing. Banking is all about confidence in the company because they are taking a risk with you. Bankers know that sales projection is the weakest link in the financial projection…and everything is driven off of that number. REMEMBER: When you have statistically proven data to support a projection of closing 87%, the banker will have much more confidence than when you project 90% without the documentation. They will have confidence in the number and in you as the person managing the business. A number like 90% looks like a guess. Accurate Measures in Sales Management As a sales manager, it is helpful to have this kind of data when you sit down with your sales guy and ask how much they expect to sell next quarter. If, like a lot of organizations, the response is not specific to identified prospects, it does not mean much. If, instead, the sales rep can walk through the list of opportunities and forecast the probabilities of closing the prospects, the details will create confidence. Good, bad or indifferent—having the real data allows you to make adjustments when needed. If you see that they are not really on track to hit their quota, you can help them make changes or change your own expectations. Better to know ahead of time rather than two quarters later. Without the measured statistics about the opportunities, the salesperson is going to tell you want they think you want to hear. If the quota is half a million dollars, the rep will say that they expect to sell between 475K and 525K. Then you wake up three to four months later and you realize they have missed the quota by 150K. It is too late to make any changes. Page 18
  29. 29. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Forecast Reporting Tools The SalesNexus system has a report that you can use to easily forecast sales revenue. You add each of your sales opportunities to the system as they come in. Over time, you go back to mark the sales as closed lost or closed won. The system will then compute the historical close rate. In addition, you can track each step. Once you have figured out the steps in your sales process, you can create a sales system in the CRM like a campaign. You can see on the graphic below is a series of tasks that are spread out in time. You know that if you put a new lead in today, five days from now a task will show up in the task list saying a call should be made to schedule a demo. By having everything scheduled up front, you know when emails are being sent, when is the best time to do a specific follow up step and so on. The system will say more than a follow up call is needed…without any specific objective…the salesperson knows the call is to schedule a demo. You may get a task list item that says you are calling to gather their requirements to prepare a proposal, etc. Page 19
  30. 30. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Then, when the system is followed and everything is measured, you can go back and say we had to call an average of three times to get a demo scheduled. That is pretty powerful information. You may see that there was an average of 30 days between the demo and when a proposal is sent. Canning the process into the system will give you the data you need to measure it any way you want. It helps illuminate all of the questions about sales forecasting we talked about earlier. Page 20
  31. 31. MANAGE A SALES PROCESS OF ACTIONS THAT LEAD TO SALES Next Steps We hope that you’ve benefited from our ebook! We truly want to help you take your business to the next level. If you have questions about how these ideas can best be applied in your business, we’re only a phone call away! Really! Call or email and we’ll do our best to help however we can. All the best, Craig Klein CEO, 713.862.0001 Free Live Training For hands on instruction on how to write emails, create email templates and build campaigns, join our weekly live training session on Wednesdays at 3pm ET. Sales Growth Webinars and ebooks In addition to this ebook, we’ve published 6 webinars and ebooks. Access them all, completely free, here 30 Day Free Trial Start your Free, 30 day trial of SalesNexus and transfer 500 contacts to email to begin identifying qualified leads for your business today. Page 21