Entrepreneur Insight: Selling at a Higher Level

Posted on the 20 March 2019

Entrepreneur Insight: Selling at a Higher Level

Richard Lane and Lee Durham are sales thought leaders and entrepreneurs, who are passionate about 'raising the bar of the sales profession' and love helping people and organisations achieve high growth by developing skills and mindsets and by improving sales processes.

Sales is the lifeblood of every business - big or small. Without sales, you don’t have a business (or won’t for very long). Yet so many companies seem to shy away from that fact.

This is especially true of ‘scale-ups’ or companies looking to grow rapidly. Yes, funding is important, but the way to grow your business both rapidly and sustainably is through (increased) sales.

So how can SMEs increase their sales in 2019?

In modern, consultative selling, there are no secrets or hidden knowledge. Increased sales performance derives from three distinct, yet interlinked key areas:

1. People

Do you have the right calibre of people (and enough of them) to hit your sales goals? Attracting and developing sales talent is absolutely crucial. This includes people who are not afraid to pick up the phone. People who can understand prospects’ challenges and who can earn the right to ask ‘high impact’ questions in order to effectively diagnose prospects’ real pain points.

Only then can they accurately determine whether the products and/or services you sell can help or not (Business Fit, Business Value is our first Sales Mantra). But more importantly people who can close deals.

The problem is that good sales people rarely look for other roles. Usually, they must be enticed away; headhunted.

2. Process

It’s crucial to have a consistent sales process and ensure everyone understands and adheres to it. You must have clear qualification criteria and a system to effectively score leads and opportunities - who does what? And by when?

Why has the prospect got in touch or responded to your activity? What are their real challenges?

What and how much information do you need before you will consider drafting and sending a proposal or recommendation paper? What would happen if they did nothing?

Having a streamlined process and rigorous qualification criteria means you can be confident that you are spending time where you can be most effective (Quality x Quantity x Consistency = High Performance is our fifth Sales Mantra).

3. Pipeline

Perhaps most important of all, and where everything feeds into. Having an accurate, healthy sales pipeline is imperative for forecasting, growth ambitions … and cash flow.

How many leads have been generated this week? Month? Quarter? How many leads do you need to generate to hit your sales target (based on empirical conversion/close rates)?

Which stage of the sales process are your current leads at? Which ones need to be nurtured and how? Which are due to close and when?

Keeping your pipeline full should be a top priority. This requires continuous, systematic prospecting and lead nurture activity. Research states that 80% of deals require five follow attempts after initial contact, yet 44% of sales reps give up after just one follow-up attempt. The challenge is that most people hate prospecting! You don’t have to enjoy doing it. You don’t even have to do it in-house. It just has to be done consistently and effectively.

Most of these factors are under your control. If you can master and integrate your people, processes and pipeline, then your sales performance will improve.

Here are some additional questions to ask yourself to understand if you need help across these areas:

· Can I achieve my sales targets with current resource levels?

· Do I have enough opportunities in my pipeline (mindful of close ratios)?

· Where is my sales teams’ time best spent - prospecting, nurturing and/or closing?

· Is my sales process as effective as it could be?

It may come as no surprise to learn that durhamlane can help with all of the above - with vast experience in blending our services to improve these three key areas. We’re selective on who we take on, but get in touch for an initial exploratory and confidential conversation.