By Paul Lemberg
Last week, one of my clients—we'll call him Rick—had a demo
scheduled with a prospect. The standard "show up and throw up"
they typically did early in the sales cycle.
Trying to shorten the sales cycle, I asked naively, "Why does
the customer want to buy? What are they trying to accomplish?"
Rick couldn't tell me. I asked if he thought the salespeople
knew. He said no. I gave him an assignment: he had to find out
"Why," "Why now," and "What's it worth." Otherwise no demo.
In other words, no compelling reason to buy...No demo.
So Rick took a risk, and is rapidly moving to a fully-paid
Sure, long-term objectives and plans still matter, but I've
been getting more and more inquiries focused on "what to do
now." Entrepreneurs and executives alike are demanding help on
how to improve revenues and profits right away.
How do you make the quickest difference? Focus the bulk of
energy on revenue generation. In other words, sales! And don't
do it the same old way either, because -- as you may have
noticed -- it isn't working that well.
Here are five ways for your sales force to bring in more
business in short order. There are no magic bullets, but just
last week I taught one of these techniques to a client (#2)
he used it to close a deal the following day! Use one or use
them all. Each technique will have its own effect, and each
will multiply the power of the others.
1. Sell return on investment, and sell it to the CFO.
Sales people are complaining that while the pipeline may be
full, the deals are taking too long to close. Perhaps that's
why the pipe is so full! What are the reasons for this?
Companies have money, and in many cases they have needs. But
many people are so scared THEIR customers aren't going to buy
THEIR wares, they are loath to spend any money themselves. The
result? They are only willing to spend money when they
absolutely see near-term financial payback, and the CFO is
killing many deals.
The solution? Sell the return on investment. Sell the payback.
And sell it to the CFO. Arm your salespeople with two things:
series of case studies that document the returns from using
product, and a well-defined ROI process worksheet. Work with
CFO to build the ROI case so that he or she owns it. This is
only way they come to believe it. Make it their idea and
of killing your deal, they will help you close it.
2. Forget USP. Determine your Usage Cases
Instead of focusing on why your product is the latest and
greatest, clarify the ways in which potential customers will
use your product to solve specific problems and produce
tangible results. Then, instead of touting the "benefits" of
your product--which often fall on deaf ears, anyway--engage
your prospects in conversations about what costly and
quantifiable problems they now have, and how they might use
your product or service to alleviate those.
And, as sales guru Mike Bosworth says, don't tell them your
offering IS the solution. You're a sales "guy" and they won't
believe you. Instead, ask them if your possible solution might
help them. If they believe it does, they have accepted your
solution as truth. Then get them to tell you, in real dollar
terms, what fixing that problem is worth.
3. Increase Sales Training. Use the 10% solution.
But don't expect any one salesperson--even your superstars--to
be 100% at every part of your sales process. They almost never
are. But there is a way you can raise the level of every
in your sales organization—immediately.
Use this process adopted from W. Edwards Demming's principle
optimization. Break your sales process into as many
discrete--but meaningful--steps as you can.. Cold calling.
Letter writing. Setting appointments. Identifying pain.
proposals. Presenting. And so on. Find out who in your
organization excels at each step, and have those reps explain
their methods and mindset to the rest of your sales force. Do
all the steps at once in a marathon session, or one step at a
time. Either way, the results will be amazing.
4. Use the 80/20 Rule. And get rid of the bottom 20.
There's no room in today's world for mediocre producers. Hold
each member of your team accountable for reaching two kinds of
performance benchmarks: results measurements, which include
only revenue, but perhaps new accounts and repeat business,
action measurements, which might include prospecting calls,
appointments, and new contacts.
Not every sales person will be a superstar, but every one
should pay their own way--and then some. Salespeople who
producing not only cost you money, they drag down the
performance of your whole organization. You may not pay them
very much, but why pay them anything? I suggest you do both
yourself and them a favor, and let them go. Don't worry about
having an empty desk: that warm chair was an expense your
company doesn't need.
If you feel it isn't fair to "dump" them, or if your sales
cycle is too long to measure short-term revenue results, give
the problem reps a 30-day plan to increase their level of
activity in specific ways. That's long enough to see an
improvement if there's going to be one.
5. Track your results and work harder
Most entrepreneurial sales organizations fail to analyze their
efforts. They have no idea how much effort--or money--it takes
to create a new customer. The only indication they have of
whether salespeople are "doing enough" is based on the revenue
numbers. The answer? Track both activity and results, and use
the statistics your garner to quickly raise performance. Break
your sales process into a series of meaningful steps, counting
each time a rep completes one. Calculate averages and set a
benchmark. And while you're at it, analyze the percentage of
deals that close whenever you complete that step. That
knowledge can dramatically improve your sales forecasts.
Once you establish benchmarks--this one's a no-brainer--RAISE
THE BAR. Yes, that's right, because the fact is, revenue isn't
coming in fast enough. Do everything discussed above to
your sales effectiveness--then do more of it. Just working
smarter isn't going to cut it. You're going to have to work
harder as well. And anyone who doesn't want to? See number 4
I've developed a unique Sales Audit Process based on the work
of W. Edwards Demming. This program is guaranteed to produce
immediate 10-25% improvement in your company's sales, or more.
If you'd like to find out more about how you can increase
right away, call me at 858-951-3055, or visit
www.paullemberg.com/contact.html and send an email with
details about your company's sales situation.
About The Author: Business Coach paullemberg.com and
Strategist, Paul Lemberg is the President of Quantum Growth
Coaching, the world's only fully systemized business coaching
quantumgrowthcoaching.com program designed to create
More Profits and More Life™ for entrepreneurs.