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?  What does success look like at each milestone?
  • Begin your sales activity – think about which sales approach you use and why.  When we say sales approach, we mean are you transactional or consultative, is the focus more on inbound or outbound, have your team been trained a consistent way to approach sales?
  • Record your activity and outcomes so that you can spot trends and understand conversion rates.  We’d advise you use a CRM for this, but you can always start with a spreadsheet until it becomes too big to manage.
  • Remove any blockages or obstacles which limit your sales pipeline success.  Make sure you understand what it is which prevents success.
  • Seek training and coaching to help you improve conversion rates.  It’s sometimes easier for a third party to see the opportunities and help you to maximise them.
  • 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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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.

2 ways (guaranteed) to dig your business out of a rut

Communication Skills Devon

I’m sure you know exactly what I mean by ‘business rut’.  We’ve probably all been there.  A fog has come down over your strategy.  You know something needs to change but you can’t see the wood for the trees.  The hamster wheel just keeps on turning and you want to get off?

“if you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”

So here are the 2 things that are guaranteed to re-energise, sharpen your focus and dig you out of your business rut.

1. Spend time with your Customers

Mix it up between customers who’ve bought from you previously as well as customers who are still in the buying process.  By making courtesy calls, or better still, inviting them for a coffee or bite to eat, you show that you care and want to understand what engaging with your business is really like from their perspective.  They will tell you things that you didn’t realise – we often get so close to our business that it’s difficult to be objective.

Ask for honest feedback on what improvements you could make in the business.  You will most definitely come out of the experience with new ideas and clarity on how the business can climb to greater heights.

2. Spend time with your Staff

Ok so you might think that you do this already, but I’m suggesting real quality time.  Invite your key team members for dinner one evening, or start the day with a team breakfast.  The key to making this time different to the normal time you spend together, is how open and honest you are.

My advice would be to share exactly how you feel – explain that things are just ticking along right now, and you feel as though the business might be in a rut.  But most importantly, explain that you need their help to identify key change initiatives.  You need them to share thoughts and ideas on how to accelerate business growth.  They’ll be sure to tell you about any systems and process that are less than perfect.  They’ll also have ideas on how to improve  customer service and engagement.  They might even have ideas for new products and services that they feel are in demand.

They’ll love your honesty and respect you for it.  You’ll gain their complete buy-in to the new plans that you make.  A stronger team will be born.

Best of luck…. Hope you found this useful.

Find out more about Business Coaching here.

Top 10 Ways to Achieve Your Goals

We’ve all got goals.  They may be huge life-changing goals or just mini-milestones.  But we create them to help us reach our ambitions and fulfil our potential.  Or to lose a few pounds (or stone!).  Or give up smoking, or drinking or other vices.

Well it’s over a month past the date when you made your New Year resolutions.  How are you getting on with achieving those?  Struggling?  Oh dear, don’t get disheartened.

I’m here to help.  I thought it would be a good idea to share some tried and tested techniques for keeping motivation levels up!!

  1. Set yourself rewards – each milestone you reach deserves a little prize.  You could make a monthly reward schedule, even build an advent-calendar-esque type chart.
  2. Create a mood board – visualise the achievement in pictures as well as words.
  3. Go public – organise a little get-together with your chums where you all share your goals and dreams for the year ahead (no wine of course – you’re trying to give that up…or is that just me?)
  4. Create an Urgent and Important matrix and plot where each item fits – this will sort your priorities and kick your butt a little
  5. Write to yourself – pop your goals onto paper and into an envelope.  Make sure you clearly outline what you wanted to have achieved and how you’ll feel when you’re successful.  Then put the date on the envelope that you’d like to receive the letter and ask a trusted friend to post it to you.
  6. Book a day in a spa (I do this a lot anyway) – Instead of reading a book by the pool, review your success and any outstanding goals.  Be honest with yourself though, if you’ve done a rubbish job, then give yourself your best disappointed face and do something about it.
  7. Talk to yourself on the treadmill.  Grab your mobile and hands free set and start walking (not too fast!) and start leaving yourself a voice note.  Tell yourself details about the goals – why they’re important etc.  Trust me, when you listen back to it, it’ll really jolt you into action and being on the treadmill keeps the energy high.
  8. Set alerts in your online calendar – make it random so you can’t start taking them for granted and then ignore them.
  9. Do the classic ‘wheel of life’ exercise with yourself.  It helps you focus on what’s really important.  Or call me and I can help you with it.
  10. If the above aren’t successful for you and your goals haven’t become achievements in the next few months, then you need a coach.  Call me.  I will get you there.  My mobile is 07980 910316 or email me at rachaelhowourth@icloud.com.  I’d love to help you out.

GOOD LUCK!! 

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….

Formula for handling Under-Performance (works every time)

under performance

Does your team have a person who delivers repeat under performance?

If you manage people, you’ll know how exciting it is to hire great talent, but you’ve probably also experienced the awful feeling when a member of the team isn’t performing.  It costs you time, money and is a reflection on you as a leader.  

But how long do you continue to invest your time and money into someone who’s letting the team down?  Firing someone is never nice.  And should be a last resort.  It’s quite normal to just live in hope for a while that performance levels will return and the problem will go away.  But what if it doesn’t? And how much does waiting cost you?

My advice is to keep things simple.  Answer this question….

Is the under-performance because the staff member CAN’T or WON’T perform?

In my 20 years of people leadership experience, it’s never anything else.  I urge you to challenge me on that too.  In the past, I’ve tried to make every excuse in the book for staff that I’ve truly liked as people, and desperately didn’t want to exit from the business.  

But it always comes back to can’t or won’t.
So, how do you fix it?  Firing should be the last step.  Try these things first…

  • Spend time with the person and observe them doing their role (or the thing they’re under performing at)
  • Give them timely and honest feedback
  • Be open to being given feedback from them (what if your training style isn’t great?)
  • Complete a training needs analysis
  • Make sure you understand their preferred learning style
  • Agree an action plan with specific learning milestones and dates for achievement
  • Give them the necessary training (or a refresher) in a classroom or on the job
  • Allocate them a more experienced team member to act as a buddy
  • Encourage self- development so that they can learn outside of the day job
  • Share some book titles that they might benefit from reading
  • Hold regular review meetings and side-by-side coaching sessions to measure success
  • Give credit and praise where it’s due

If these things don’t fix the gap in performance, then your under-peformer is most likely a WON’T. The issue is with their attitude or motivation, or both.

You need to test out the strength and depth of the ‘won’t’

A won’t person, is usually just cruising along.  Are they wasting time?  Do they avoid particular tasks?  Are they already job hunting?  Or are they just plain lazy?

  • Talk to them and ask why they think they’re under-performing.  They may try and bluff their way out if things – blaming a lack of training or coaching (but you’ll have already dealt with that in the above steps)
  • Make sure you know what motivates this person – money, praise, job satisfaction? 
  • Agree an action plan with very clear, time bound objectives
  • Make sure there isn’t something personal going on (don’t pry or delve too deep but you need to be sure that the person isn’t really suffering from stress, depression, bereavement or similar)
  • If this person can’t find the motivation, they probably need to leave the business.  Quickly.  But be sure to follow employment law practises.

You are not alone in having to deal with under performance.  All teams have variations in performance.  The key to your success as a leader is to always manage everyone appropriately and according to their individual needs.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Rachael

We support HR in businesses across the South West.

Plymouth | Exeter | Torbay | Newton Abbot | Somerset | Cornwall

Top Tips on how to be a great coachee

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to have experienced great coaching, you’ll know that the results can be staggering.  And even life-changing.

But I want to let you know, there’s a few secrets to it being successful….

The coach plays (or should play) a very minimal part in the whole process.  It’s all about what YOU, the coachee, bring to the party.  Yes, the coach will ask you lots of questions and encourage you to open up about your ambitions, challenges and obstacles, but there’s so much about the whole experience that rides on what YOU bring. You.
Right at the start of my leadership career, I’d set my heart on a promotion.  I really thought it was in the bag….sadly it wasn’t.  I still had so much to learn, and secretly I knew that, but it didn’t stop me from being ultra-disappointed when I heard those dreadful words “sorry, but you didn’t get the job”.  It was a bad day.  I even wrote my resignation.  But luckily I only emailed it to myself (a little tip given to me by the best mentor I’ve ever had – but I’ll tell you about him in a future blog).  Instead of resigning, I decided to run towards personal development and to cut a long story short, my boss invested in an external coach for me.  I was very lucky.  Working with that coach was a pinnacle moment for me.

He stretched my thinking, challenged me and made me see things totally differently.  I opened up about what I really wanted to achieve and built a plan to get it.  Bear in mind this was over 10 years ago and I still use some of the techniques he taught me, even today.  But now that I reflect on the process I went through back then, it was actually me who was driving it all.  My determination to overcome the defeat of that (gggrrr) promotion was so strong, that I threw my energy into being a great coachee.  I dug deep and worked really hard to make progress in between each session, practising what he’d taught me in real life situations with my team.

To be a great coachee, you need to:

  • Bring it!  Your attitude is critical to the success you’ll achieve.
  • Be honest.  Don’t answer questions with what you ‘think’ your coach wants to hear.
  • Be patient.  It’s a journey of discovery.  There’s no fireworks on day one so hang on in there.
  • Be open to being wrong.  A good coach will challenge you and help unlock a new truth that will help take you forward.
  • Work hard.  Not just in the monthly session with the coach, but in between sessions too.  Take good notes, list out your actions and put them into practise until they become a habit.
  • Keep your eye on the prize.  Be really clear about what you want to achieve.
  • Feedback to your sponsor or stakeholder.  If your boss is footing the bill for your coaching, feedback to him/her on how it’s going and the value he/she will get from you going on this journey.
  • Be committed.  See it through to the end and you’ll discover a new YOU.

Good luck.  Hope you found my story and tips helpful 🙂

PS. If the boss who rejected me for that job is reading…. don’t worry, I forgave you long ago xx