If you have a sales team, their one and only job is – to drive revenue, how fast and efficiently they do that, will determine the health of your sales process.
The concept behind a sales pipeline has been around for quite a few years, its moving leads from point A to point B all the way down to converting them into a customer. Of course, the time it takes to close deal varies in different companies. Some companies are focused on SMBs – Small to medium business while others are purely built for enterprises.
No matter which industry you’re in one thing we can all agree on is that nothing stands still in sales, as soon as you take your foot off the gas, you risk falling behind and not staying on top of your prospects.
There is no one size fits all solution in sales, tactics that might have worked in the past might not necessarily work in the future. This can be due to an array of different reasons such as digital advancements or the sales game being moved to a different turf aka social media. The key is to be proactive and consistent with your approach.
Evolution > Revolution
Now I’m a firm believer that evolution is greater than revolution. If you’re not tracking the changes you’re making, you will never know what worked and what didn’t. Same goes for sales, you can change everything that you’re doing, change has to start small and you have to consistently make changes in order to see positive results.
Now we all know that salespeople hate changes, and that is ok. Change is uncomfortable at first but rewarding in the long run. Staying in your comfort zone will do you no good. So if you’re sales pipeline has stalled or if you’re looking make more sales it’s time to get proactive, take a step back and see if the following tips can help you:
1. Always qualify your leads
To be able to sell, you need to first learn what the prospect is looking for. So always start off by asking your prospect questions such as their pain points for example, what brought them to your website? and what is it that they are looking to achieve with your tool? Have they used a tool like your in the past?
The more feedback you get from the prospect, the better understanding of where they are coming from you’ll have. That inadvertently will give you more ammunition which you can use later on in the sales cycle for follow-ups or creating urgency.
2. Improve understanding of your prospect’s business
Don’t be a brochure! If a prospect wanted to learn more about your features I’m sure your website would’ve been the right place for it. Try and understand the prospect’s business inside and out and see how your service can help fix it. It’s a great way to see if you’re solving their need or want, which could be the difference between your prospect buying your service or not.
Always understand their business challenges first, so you don’t leave additional money on the table. Do that by genuinely understanding their needs.
3. Try and breakdown the sales process
Look for bottlenecks in your sales process. Is the prospect going silent after they have seen the demo? or they are stalling after you’ve sent them the proposal/pricing. Try and figure out where the drop off is and that’s where you need to focus. The best way to do that is by going bottom up, try to get a response out of the prospects you have spent time with, especially ones that are far along in the sales process. Even if it’s a lost deal, it’s better to know the reason for the loss rather than be subjected to silence, which brings on constructive feedback to the table and you end up wasting your time.
Follow-up was due today but you got called into an unexpected meeting? No worries, I will follow-up with the prospect tomorrow and turns out that tomorrow you’re sick and the follow-up keeps on prolonging and eventually you lose track of it as the backlog becomes bigger and your focus is divided. That prospect will probably not get the same attention as they would’ve when the follow-up was due. Always try and make sure if you can automate the follow-ups, do that. It will save you a lot of time and chances are you will get a response from your prospect that will give you the status update of what is going on with the deal.
5. Unclog your pipeline
Remove the clutter from your pipeline, only create opportunities from leads that are fully qualified and you know there is a mutual fit. Vanity apps that are lying in your pipeline are doing you no favors. They distract you because you don’t have the aptest view of your sales pipeline. You will end up focusing your energies on them and deep down you know they won’t bring any value to you or to the company, they will only bring your morale down. So be proactive and remove the clutter, focus on the deals that you are creating and make sure you are promptly closing the previous deals and following up with them regularly.
and remember: Change won’t happen overnight!
Change is gradual. Don’t go guns blazing, try and create a plan, execute it, one step at a time. If something doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board, tweak it and go at it again. Test everything and Do not give up!
DON’T create email campaigns and use the spray and pray technique. Create a process that actually works and it’s backed by number, very seldom do we lose a prospect because we are not using a right tool, It’s all about the process you have in place and execution.
A basic step that’s often overlooked by teams is to try walking in the shoes of a lead or a prospect, to test the entire process. How does it all flow? Does it naturally guide you along the pipeline in the way you were planning? Don’t forget to check the technical side of things too, is everything presented well? If you’re scratching your head trying to work out why things aren’t doing as well as you expected, the problem could easily lie here.
Also, consider ways to compare your process to that of other companies. Get into their sales cycle and see what’s better or worse than your own.
Hungry for more?
Helping companies with their sales efforts and helping them build a stronger pipeline is something I’m passionate about. If you have any more questions or looking to improve your sales process, drop me a line at email@example.com
Happy selling! #makeitrain