1. Know and engage with your buyer
According to Gallup, there are different types of people involved in the buying process a) those who make the buying decisions and b) those that influence them. Once you can identify who is playing which role, you can adjust your selling method and concentrate on the decision-makers.
- Decision-makers: the ones who have the funds and ultimately make the buying decision.
- Influencers: they can be the ones who either set the standards or the ones who play an advisory role. Some examples could be your prospect’s family, friends and peers.
- Buyers and end users: often your buyers will be your end users, but it is important that you identify each role.
If you have an account team to handle clients, the report cautions that you can't assume that the account team understands their clients' roles. To avoid this disconnect, the report advised:
ASSESS THE BUYING KNOWLEDGE
The roles of each of the people involved in the purchasing process needs to be clear before moving forward with a sales pitch.
ANALYSE CLIENT ENGAGEMENT
Another exercise done was to measure customer engagement. Clients’ evaluations of the purchasing process should have matched the account teams’ evaluation. Gallup found that the account teams often had no idea how their customers actually felt about the company.
GET OBJECTIVE CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
The report recommended that companies need objective customer feedback to manage relationships at the account team level in order to serve the client better. Ask the client the following open-ended questions:
- What are we doing well?
- How can we build on this strength to help you create impact for your business?
- Where can we improve our business relationship?
- What is missing in our business relationship?
- What can we do better?
Listen, take notes and present the findings to the sales or account team. Then, consolidate the information, brainstorm follow-up actions and design an improvement plan. Ideas and solutions should be based on what you've learned from regular conversations with clients or prospects.
TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THE CLIENT RELATIONSHIP
Gallup recommends that companies develop a “relationship map” to improve client engagement. This means laying out the “network” of everyone involved in the decision-making, influencing and purchasing process.
2. Errors at Quotation Stage
To avoid these:
- Ensure you know exactly what is required so you can adapt the quote appropriately.
- Make personal contact with the decision maker and send the quote directly to that person.
- Ascertain if there are any competitors who'll undercut whatever you quote.
- Get a clear accurate quote to the customer speedily.
3. Poor Revenue Forecasting
Accurate revenue forecasting helps businesses develop successful operational and staffing plans but this forecasting is at the mercy of the dynamics of the economy and the marketplace – even more difficult when new products or emerging markets are involved.
In order to avoid errors in revenue forecasting it is recommended that managers and analysts adhere to the following basics:
- Understand thoroughly how sales channels work and how prospects become customers.
- Ground revenue projections in market facts.
- Be extremely disciplined in applying and evaluating key revenue assumptions.
- Forecast revenues using both a conservative and an aggressive case.
4. Struggling to sell to existing customers
Get existing customers to return by following these strategies:
- Identify products or services that the customer could buy but doesn't.
- Come up with a plan for expanding your pool of contacts within the account. Identify other managers with buying authority.
- Keep trying to add value e.g. faster service, better delivery, easier ordering, unique features and benefits.
- Offer ideas. Think in terms of solving problems for customers.
- Make customers feel they have a special relationship with you. Try to understand the customer’s business, strategy and financial situation.
- Identify your customers’ customers? How can you help your customers add value for their customers? Gain all the information you can on customers.
- Understand the critical role of trust. Constantly look for things you can do that advance the level of trust. It tells customers you’re looking out for their interests beyond just the sales transaction.
- Get plugged into your customers’ network. A genuine shared interest serves as common ground that can lead to valuable introductions to prospects.
5. Poor Visibility in the Sales Process
To avoid this "blind spot":
- Take the time to measure how much time your reps actually spend selling. Identify any issues that are hampering sales performance.
- A quick response time can boost the performance of your sales team considerably. Companies that try to contact a lead within an hour of the initial query are seven times more likely to qualify the lead than those companies that waited even an hour longer. Companies that wait a full 24 hours before contacting the lead are 60 times less likely to qualify the lead than those who responded within the first hour.
- According to the AMA (American Marketing Association), 90% of marketing content goes unused by sales. However, investment in marketing continues to rise and now counts for 16% of overall budget (according to Information Technology Services Marketing Association). Implementing next generation sales content management software is one way to boost the performance levels of both sales and marketing. Introduce systems and processes that allow marketing leaders to push relevant content directly to sales reps.
- Keeping track of opportunity win rate gives you insight into the ability of your reps to close a deal.
- If your average deal size is smaller than you would like, take some time to assess your company’s lead generation efforts and why they are producing leads that end up in smaller deals. Liaise with marketing about ways lead generation can be tweaked to boost sales performance.
- The average length of time it takes your reps to close a deal is another key metric when it comes to measuring the performance of your sales reps. You should also look to measure the average time it takes a deal to pass through each stage of the sales pipeline. With this metric, you will quickly be able to flag deals that are less likely to close by the amount of time they are taking to progress. You will also be able to identify sales bottlenecks and take action.
- The cost of sales to revenue ratio performance metric reflects the overall efficiency of the sales division. Over time this metric can help you gauge the level of investment needed to reach a certain performance level.