Growing your Sales Pipeline

Sales Pipeline

When sales are flooding in, it’s common in business not to concern yourself too much with your sales pipeline.  But when times are hard, you look to your sales pipeline as a source of comfort, reassurance and hopefully some quick wins.

But what do you do if your sales pipeline is dried up?

There’s only one thing that you can do in this situation, and that’s to start again.  You need to start the process of identifying who to target.  Which lead sources can you use and who can you qualify as hot prospects.  You then need to begin learning about the solutions they seek and how you can help them with your products and services.

Some quick tips on building your sales pipeline;

  • Source leads, ensuring you do it appropriately and compliantly.  Match the leads to your ‘ideal customer profile’ as much as possible.
  • Qualify leads using criteria which will help you categorise prospects into segments.  For example, you may have some more urgent than others or want to select different contact methods for each segments.
  • Design the activity and milestones for your sales pipeline.  For example, will you use the phone or email, or do you want to meet face to face?
  • Begin your sales activity – think about which sales approach you use and why.
  • Record your activity and outcomes so that you can spot trends and understand conversion rates.
  • Remove any blockages or obstacles which limit your sales pipeline success.
  • Seek training and coaching to help you improve conversion rates.
  • If you manage a team of people, make sure you understand variances in sales pipeline performance so that you can help and support.

Recording activity shows you how hard you try, whereas conversion rates show you how good you are when you try.

Founder of Momentum South West, Rachael Howourth, delivered a talk at the Like Minds Ideas Festival in Exeter.  The talk lasts for 20 minutes and covers some key points to specifically help you grow your sales pipeline.

 

We also run regular seminars and training on How to Build a Sales Pipeline, so do check out our Eventbrite listings.

Blogs you might like:

11 Tips to be a better salesperson

The most effective way to close a sale

Top Tips to convert your social media followers in to paying customers

 

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Business Development gains Momentum

Or is it Momentum gains Business Development?  

We are delighted to welcome Paul Taylor to Momentum South West as our Business Development Manager.   Paul will work in collaboration with us, and as a Freelance Business Development professional, he brings a great deal of experience.

What will Paul be doing as part of our Business Development Team?

He’ll be building relationships with business leaders and HR professionals all over the South West.  Paul will ask about training requirements and explore whether there is a need for coaching or mentoring amongst the staff.  He will then be able to match clients with our range of training courses and coaching programmes.

Paul will share our calendar of events, which include open training courses on sales, leadership and personal effectiveness.  He will also co-ordinate anyone who’d like to book a free consultation to discuss a tailored strategy session or coaching programme.

Want to know more about Business Development or Momentum South West?

Find out about us or our Outsourced Sales Team services.  We can provide short or long term Business Development support for your business.

Would you like to become a Business Development Manager for Momentum South West?  Please get in touch to discuss the opportunity for us to collaborate.

Sales Leadership | Everything you need to know about Sales KPIs

Sales Leadership KPIs

If you’re in Sales Leadership, you’ve probably heard the saying “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”

It’s very true.  You can’t manage what you can’t see.  As a leader who’s expected to deliver results, sales managers  and business owners need to make sure they carefully select some meaningful KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

But before too long, you find you have 50 things to manage, some of which your CRM can’t produce reports on any more.  And how many of them were once requested by the Finance Director who now doesn’t need to know anymore?  Not to mention your sales team are increasingly aware that the number of plates they’re expected to spin is growing, which is confusing and causes the side-effects of another famous saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”

So I’m going to try and help you streamline your KPIs to just the things which make a difference to the performance of your sales team.

What are the main benefits of having KPIs?

  1. It’s easier to spot trends and opportunities for growth
  2. They highlight capability issues in your team so you can adopt the right training
  3. They also highlight variances in the drive and determination of your team
  4. It gives you a transparent platform for recognising great performance, and offering rewards
  5. You’ll feel more in control with consistent KPI tracking

Activity – Volume (or how hard do the team try?)

How many calls or meetings do your sales team do?

You’ll need this by each individual as well as for the team as a whole. You’ll also want to be able to look at specific weeks or months to spot trends over time.  Think about showing results as a comparison to the average for the team, or the average for the month.  Also think about setting a benchmark to help you make incremental gains over time.

Make sure that every individual inputs accurately into your CRM system – salespeople are notoriously bad at this so look out for errors.

Activity – Duration (or how engaging do your customers find your sales team?)

How much time do your sales team spend engaged in customer conversations?

If you have people who sell on the phone, you’ll need a telecoms provider who can report on the number of minutes spent on calls.  Think about how long a call needs to be before it qualifies as an engaging call – 10 seconds is likely a ‘no thank you’, 3 minutes is enough for the customer to have been asked a few questions, 10 minutes is a good conversation and any longer than that is a really good sign you’re making great connections with customers.

Think about how long it takes to wait in a call tree.  Consider staff who call their friends to grow their call time! (I’ve seen this done many times).

Sales Leadership KPis to Measure

Conversion (or how good at selling are your team?)

How likely are your sales team to convert a sale?

This is a great metric for helping you to identify training needs.  Maybe your entire team don’t need a refresher training course on consultative selling – it may just be one person.  Either way, this will help you address performance variance where training is the cause.

Depending on the stages of your sales process, you may need to break down the tracking of conversion rates.  For example, if you have an appointment maker who works on the phone, their sale is to sell the appointment.  The person who does the appointment is responsible for the sale.  You’ll want to know whether they convert in one appointment or two.  Or does it take a follow up phone call to get the sale over the line?

You’ll need to track conversions for each salesperson, plus think about what the benchmark needs to be i.e. is it a comparison to each other or the team average?

Do you have different conversion rate benchmarks for different products? You’ve probably got some products which are far easier to sell that others.  Think about how you might differentiate between the products and services that your sales team are responsible for.

Average Value of a Sale

Do you have sales staff who excel in high value sales?  But others who only sell what’s on offer?  Or they ask for a discount?

This metric can help you understand which of your sales people can sell multiple products in one sale.  Plus you might identify pricing issues or skill issues.  Again think about the benchmark you’re using – it should probably be a comparison to the team average.

Customer Satisfaction

Every business should measure how satisfied their customers are.  It’s no good having sales people who can convert sales at high values if the customer is telling you that they found the sales experience disappointing.

Do you actively seek customer feedback?  Where do you record it?  Do you measure feedback given against the individual salesperson or is it general?

Think about how you use Online Reviews and whether customers willingly offer you Referrals to their family and friends.

It’s easy to over-complicate this part with hefty surveys and competitions.  My advice is keep it simple.  Could it be as straightforward as asking the manager to put in 5 random customer service calls per month to gain some insightful feedback?

Pulling it all together

If you’re unsure about how to create some meaningful reports, ask your accountant to help you.  You’ll also need to make sure your CRM system offers you the ability to input the necessary numbers, as well as an easy suite of reports to extract the information you need from the back end.

The most important thing to do when compiling and tracking KPIs is to get buy-in from your sales team.  Explain to them why you’re looking to track their performance figures, explain the required performance levels and comparisons and get their feedback. They probably know your CRM better than you do (as they’re using it everyday), and it’s highly likely they know how to play the system so make sure you think about fairness and consistency.

If you intend to use KPIs in your team’s Personal Objectives, and I’d always advise you do, then get HR involved so they can help draw up the most appropriate paperwork for you.

Thanks for reading – hope it was useful.

If you’d like some advice on Sales Strategy, then Momentum South West can help.  We work with clients to build a sales strategy for them which delivers growth for their business.  We consult every step of the way and can train out new strategies to staff.  Our sales training and coaching gets five star reviews so if it’s an increase in sales results that you’re looking for, get in touch here.

We offer a free consultation too, so let’s make a start.

11 TIPS to Be a Better Salesperson

Be a better salesperson

So you want to know how to be a better salesperson?

I’m going to share some tips to help you not just to be a better salesperson, but to be a salesperson that your customers will love.

It’s commonly debated whether the skills for being a super-duper salesperson can be learned, or are they just part of your very being.  What do you think?  Do you often wonder what it will take for you to be a better salesperson?  On a day when you can’t seem to close a single deal, it feels like you’re pushing treacle uphill and nothing is ever going to ‘go right’ for you again.  But then you get that amazing call that says “yes, we’d like to go ahead” and all is well in your world again.  Balance is restored.  And target is achieved (those words we just love to hear)

So here’s my tips, in no particular order;

  1. Know your customer and be genuinely interested in them.  If you sound like you’re going through the motions, the customer will pick up on it.
  2. Seek to solve their problems – nobody buys anything because you did a great presentation.  It’s got to be the right solution for the customer.
  3. Tailor your communication style to suit your customers’ preference
  4. Be a great listener – sales people are known for talking, but it’s listening which will make you successful.
  5. Don’t pitch at every customer you engage with – gain agreement that there’s a problem which needs solving first.  Understand timescales and customer appetite before moving in to your pitch.
  6. Build knowledge and credibility in your own market sector, but also that of your customer.  You really must ‘know your stuff’.
  7. Always be prepared and highly organised.  Update your CRM, track your pipeline, know your numbers.  And don’t slack on your paperwork.
  8. Do what you say you’ll do.  Following up is vital, breaking a promise to a customer will lose you the sale and your reputation.
  9. Behave with integrity at all times.  This is a biggie – never compromise your personal values.  If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
  10. Build a trusting relationship.  The decision to buy is made with emotion, rather than logic.  You must position yourself in a place of trust and credibility, especially if you intend to develop future cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
  11. NEVER EVER make a sale if your instinct tells you it’s not in the interests of the customer.  If that means missing target, so be it.

Sales is fun – enjoy it!

Momentum South West run sales training courses delivered in your business or as open courses across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.  We can also support with 1:1 Sales Coaching programmes.

Our clients give us great reviews.

Get in touch for a free consultation.

 

Consultative Sales Training Course – ASPIRE

ASPIRE is the Consultative Sales Training Course that will turn your sales results around….for the long term.

Hello, I’m Rachael Howourth, the founder of Momentum South West.  I’ve been in sales for 20 years and I know what it takes to be successful. And more importantly for you, I know how to win new customers, to retain and grow existing customers and how to built advocacy.

Momentum South West provide training, coaching and consultancy services to businesses and individuals across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.  We’re proud to work with some fabulous clients and to have received 5 star reviews for our work.

In this blog, I’m going to share a little bit about each stage of the ASPIRE Consultative Sales Training Course.  So here’s a series of videos to introduce our approach to sales.

 

 

 

 

 

Hopefully those short videos explained a little about each stage of the ASPIRE  Consultative Sales Training Course.  We’d love to speak to you about rolling it out in your business.  Investing in your sales team is critical if you want your results to improve and grow.

Consultative Sales Training Courses are running in your area – get in touch.

Exeter | Plymouth | Torbay | Newton Abbot | Taunton | Truro

Devon | Cornwall | Somerset

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SALES TIPS: 10 ways to make absolutely sure your customers come back

customer loyalty

Building customer loyalty is essential for success in business.  Acquiring new customers is essential, but if that’s all we ever focussed on, it’d be tough on your sales team as well as your marketing budget.

Acquisition vs Retention?

Econsultancy did a customer loyalty study which showed businesses are only 5-25% likely to sell to a brand new customer, but are 65% likely to sell to an existing customer.  So it follows that we need to look after the customers we acquire extremely well.  In fact, we need to make sure they fall in love with our products, service, systems and processes.  We need to be easy to do business with.  Ideally, we need to literally make our customers’ hearts sing.

44% of companies have a greater focus on acquisition, than on retention.

Customer Lifetime Value – a measure of customer loyalty.

76% of companies see CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) as an important part of their sales strategy, but only 42% of companies can actually measure CLV accurately.  When I work with clients on their sales strategy, I refer to the ‘sales staircase’.  The easiest way to think about the staircase, is that the first product purchased is the entry point to your business (aka the bottom stair).  Subsequent sales then draw the customer deeper into your business and product range, and consequently increase the customers’ value and longevity. The more you sell to them and the longer you maintain their loyalty, the further up the staircase they go.

So, what are the top tips for building customer loyalty?
  1. Make sure your business offers a first-class customer experience.  Be transparent.  Impress your customer with the unexpected – send a thank you card, know their birthday, offer loyalty discounts.
  2. Use consultative selling rather than pushy closing techniques.  Build broad and deep relationships, especially if you’re in a service business.
  3. Assume your customer has done LOTS of online research.  Treat them as product experts unless they tell you that they aren’t.
  4. Ask your customers for feedback.  If something hasn’t gone well and you face a complaint, deal with it positively and quickly.
  5. Make sure your website is clear, speedy and up to date.  Not too many pop-ups, check for broken links and keep content refreshed.
  6. Embrace online reviews.  You can’t control what people think or what they say. Just respond professionally and without delay in the event that you receive a poor rating.
  7. Data is king.  Build an accurate database of your customers’ details.  The minimum needed is first name, last name and email address.  The more you collect, the richer your marketing can be (just remember that too many questions may be a barrier to sale).
  8. Build a highly effective email marketing strategy.  Use welcome emails to introduce customers to your team.  Send a Newsletter.  Send regular discounts and offers.
  9. Analyse your email campaign open rates to learn which subject headers work best, and act appropriately on subscriptions and consent to use their data.
  10. Remember the human touch still has a place – doing customer care phone calls, simply to say ‘hi’ and check that all is well, impresses customers.  Find the time to call your best customers – they’ll really appreciate it.

56% of companies use email marketing as an effective way to keep in touch with their customers and upwell to new products and services.

If your sales strategy needs a re-boot, Momentum South West can audit your current approach and make recommendations to help your revenues grow, virtually instantly.  Get more details or get in touch.

The most effective way to close your sales pitch (works every time)

Business Coaching Plymouth Exeter

Many professions are categorised as ‘skilled’ but often sales is missed off that list.  Why?  I honestly have no idea, other than those who come up with these lists have never sold anything.  Sales is tough isn’t it – I’d definitely describe sales as a skilled profession.

Sales training and coaching

There’s so many things to get right before you can even attempt to close the sale.  Have you connected with the customer and built enough rapport?  Do you understand enough about their pain points and challenges?  Does your product solve their challenges?

If you’ve ever been on a sales training course (and I’m sure most people reading this have) then you’ll have heard about all of the classic techniques for closing the sale.

Have any of these closes ever worked for you?
  • The trial close – gaining early commitment with “if I could… would you go ahead?”  Quite cheesy really….
  • The fear close – the awful strategy of making your customer feel pressured into buying from you, so as to prevent something catastrophic from happening.  Really?
  • The assumptive close – even if you manage to not come across as arrogant, you still might look silly asking how they wish to pay when they say “but I haven’t agreed to buy it yet”.  Egg on face.
  • The offer close – offering to throw in all-but-the-kitchen-sink is not going to help you, if you haven’t built up enough desire for your product.  Don’t waste your breath (or give away your kitchen sink!).

So, how do you never fail to close the sale?  What is THE ULTIMATE way to close a sale and to be 100% sure of success?

The answer:  Do such a great job of matching solutions with needs, demonstrating features and benefits, building credibility, gaining trust, creating a relationship and truly listening that the CUSTOMER ASKS TO BUY.

Do such a great job that you don’t even have to close the sale.  

It closes itself.

Good luck salespeople – and remember, next time someone talks about skilled professions, be sure to remind them how super duper skilled you need to be, to be successful in sales.

To find out more about receiving Sales Coaching, click here and get in touch.

 

 

 

 

Strategy Made Simple in 4 Steps

Sales Strategy is essential for your business growth.

I often find the word ‘strategy’ is used to make something which is essentially straightforward, seem anything but.  In fact, some of the businesses I work with, refer to strategy as being something which bigger businesses do and that somehow they don’t need to it.  Building a strategy is thought of as complicated or only for intellectuals.  But the reality is, it’s your route to success, so I’m going to help you make light work of it.
If success happened by accident, you wouldn’t need a strategy – right?  Wrong.  One of the most important elements of building an effective strategy is the review – why did ‘X’ happen?  Can we repeat ‘X’ or was it really an accident that we achieved our ambition by such a great margin? It’s rarely an accident.

Definition of Strategy: a plan of action designed to achieve an overall aim.

Of course, huge corporations have very detailed strategies which go through multiple rounds of refinement and critique.  But it doesn’t have to be this way…  It can be a really simple 4 step process that keeps you and your business at the forefront of your marketplace and keeps the all important pounds rolling in.

STEP 1 – DISCOVERY

To be successful, you need to discover all you can about your Marketplace and how your products and services fit within it.  Who are your competitors? Are there complimentary services out there?  Are your products the right fit and sold at the right price?  Most importantly, you need to discover who your customers are.  What do they want, why do they want it and will you be able to fulfil their needs and solve their problems with what you are offering?

Discovery should be an ongoing activity that you invest time in doing regularly.

STEP 2 – PLAN

You will have learned enough in your discovery phase to build a robust plan.  First build the ‘ideal state’ from a high level.  Don’t get too detailed.  You should be aiming to cover off these key areas:-

What does my business do?  How does it do it? Keep it high level, not too much detail.

What problems does my business solve? What purpose does it serve?

Who are my customers?  How will they know my business exists?

What is my competitive edge?  What are my USPs?

Plan the financials and get help if you need to.

Identify some trackable metrics which will indicate progress being made.

STEP 3 – ACTION

This speaks for itself – put your plan into action.
This is where you walk the talk.

STEP 4 – REVIEW

As part of your plan, you identified some trackable metrics that will indicate progress.  And of course you have your financials to review.  The numbers will tell you a story and I’d urge you to stick to facts in your review process.  It’s too easy to add peripheral noise.

So you need to reflect on what’s going well or not so well.  Learn from any mistakes, spot opportunities to optimise your systems and processes.  One of the most important things you should do is speak to your customers – get their feedback on what they like or don’t like.  Also speak to your employees – they see things from a different perspective so you’ll get some diversity in your review material.

An ever-revolving wheel….

Strategy is not something which we do once as an activity and then do not go back to for a while.  It’s a cycle.  A winning strategy is an ever-revolving wheel which keeps turning to keep your business running smoothly and successfully.  Just because I’ve talked about 4 steps, doesn’t mean each step happens in isolation.  But of course you do need to give your plan the time it needs to be implemented and effective.

So, don’t get put off by people who imply building strategic plans is a labour intensive and complicated process.  Keep it simple.

Here’s to your success!

here.

11 ways to get to know your B2B customer

Customer growth is critical for every business

The key to success when selling any product or service is how well you know your customer.   

Customer-Growth

You may be the greatest salesperson to walk into the boardroom (and I’m sure that you are), but even the most polished sales process, negotiation training and presentation wizardry is not going to mean a thing if you don’t understand (and I mean really understand) who your customer is.

To achieve outstanding customer growth, you must first focus on really getting to know your customer.

Try answering these questions to help you define it more clearly….

  1. Can you describe your customer?  Have you given them an identity?
  2. Where does your customer hangout? Online – but where and at what times?
  3. What does your customer value when seeking a service provider? Why?
  4. What are you customers’ biggest challenges? And how are they solved currently?
  5. Does your customer know that they are facing these challenges?
  6. Can you talk knowledgeably about their market place?  (as well as yours)
  7. Can you share insights about what the future looks like in their marketplace?
  8. Do you understand the buying/procurement process in their business?
  9. Have you considered all of the stakeholders who may be involved in selecting a new service provider?
  10. Do you know how your customer measures success and ROI?
  11. When you link all of this together, can you position yourself in a place where you are trusted, valued, given permission to challenge their thinking and can demonstrate your competitive advantage beyond any doubt at all?

If you’ve got to this point and you’re still nodding, you’re doing amazingly well.

If you’re head has fallen into your hands somewhat, don’t worry.  None of this is too tricky, it just takes a bit of time to brainstorm.  My best advice would be to pull it all together and then ask a selection of your valued, long standing customers if you are right.  They’ll probably be happy to help.

You may be wondering why I haven’t included the question about “does your customer hold the budget and decision to buy”.  Good spot.  But I’ve left it out for a very good reason.  If you’ve got questions 1 to 11 covered, trust me, they will find the budget.

Good Luck 🙂

I work with businesses to build tailor-made strategies for customer growth.

Call Rachael on 07980 910316 to chat through how I may be able to help your sales team grow their results.

Top Tips to convert your Social Media followers into paying customers

Convert-your-social-media

It used to be that if you want to sell a product or service, you simply needed to carry out high volumes of prospecting, have a fairly decent conversion rate and the rest was down to your charm and powers of persuasion.  Oh no… not any more….

There’s so much more to consider now, and I’m sorry to say that there’s no silver bullet. I’ve spent some time recently with some head in hands

businesses talking about how to convert online engagement on social media channels into real life sales.

Most people know how to grow their Followers on Twitter or encourage Likes of their Facebook page, but once you’ve done that, you’re no closer to actually making a sale.  If your product offering requires a sit down conversation (a consultative sale) then you need to entice your social media prospect, into the hot seat.

Twitter followers are 3 times more likely to mention or advocate a brand online – in fact, 80% of Tweeters mention brands in any one month.

Here’s 4 simple things to get you started with your overall sales strategy…

  1. How well do you understand your target customer?  Build an Avatar of your ideal customer – who are they, where do they hang out online, what are their problems, are they facing any challenges, do you sell something which solves their problem?  Really identify who they are.
  2. Do you have a product staircase?  Which one of your products is your entry-level product?  And once you’ve sold that one, which product does your customer buy into next?  Of course this is only relevant if you have multiple offerings.  When you have your staircase built, think about how you map your customers’ problems to each product and how you might introduce these concepts to your customer.
  3. What is your ideal customer lifecycle?  How long do you intend to keep your customers?  The longer the better I’d imagine.  Their CLV (customer lifetime value) will grow as you move them up the staircase and through your portfolio of services.  Once you know what the lifecycle looks like, you need a top-notch communication and service plan to help you build an unrivalled relationship.
  4. Data, data, data.  You need to be able to measure what’s happening in your sales funnel. Using KPIs to help track performance will allow you to spot trends, pick up gaps in performance more quickly and celebrate when things are working well.

So, now let’s consider the Social Media aspect… social engagement is all online, but your goal is to move from online to offline as soon as you can (so that you can have a valuable conversation with a real life human being, soon to be your newest customer).  You will need a sales process to follow, I train my clients to use ASPIRE, but there are lots out there.

  1. Talk to your Avatar – your social media posts, blogs and news articles should talk to your customer.  Use their language.
  2. Show your customer you understand their business.  You need to build credibility in your customers’ eyes.  Your posts should demonstrate that you truly understand the market and ‘know your stuff’.
  3. Exude empathy with your customers’ problems, challenges and
    buy-my-stuff
    Don’t oversell…

    obstacles.  Make sure you include case studies online of experience you have of providing solutions to their problems.  Prove that you can solve their problems.

  4. Post videos to demonstrate your product (if you can).  Or video yourself sharing valuable insights that your customer will benefit from.  You could offer a free trial if you wish.
  5. Respond positively to any engagement you get with your social media posts.  Don’t ignore the fact that the same person is liking your blogs, or sharing your news articles.  That’s quite a big sign they like what you’re doing – so say Thank You.
  6. Build a great relationship online as it will be a great foundation for the relationship you’ll have offline.  Remember, look for opportunities to move the conversation offline.  But be subtle.  Nobody wants to be bombarded with heavy handed sales tactics.

There’s so much more that we could debate on this – it’s a chunky topic – but I hope this was a helpful start.

Wishing you lots of success….