Naro Notables

Posts Tagged ‘Pipelines & Forecasts’

Coaching and Developing Sales People Trending as Focus

Two recent announcements show growing interest in developing and coaching sales people, as well as the need for sales managers to reallocate their time to not only complete their own tasks but also help their sales people improve their performance.  Included in Sales Dot Two Inc.’s announcement of the agenda for its upcoming Sales Performance Management Conference  is mention of a Sales 2.0 Impact Survey showing “that the number one challenge for B2B sales leaders this year has been training and coaching.” And, from CSO Insights 5th Annual Sales Management Optimization study we find that “The best-in-class companies’ managers spend less time selling and more time coaching. And they focus their coaching less on specific deals and more on their reps’ development using metrics, not hunches, to do so.” Based on my experience working with first line sales managers, I have included tips for refocusing sales mangers time for specific coaching and development areas: http://www.thenarogroup.com/tngwps/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/TNG_Refocus-Sales-Managers-and-Drive-More-Revenue.pdf.

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Qualifying Pipelines Early and Often

During the last sales management training session I facilitated, one of the mangers in the room stated that based on analysis of their pipeline data, “We win in 61 days, and we lose in 186 days.” This reinforces the importance of establishing qualifying criteria early on for both marketing and sales to ensure that only “real” opportunities enter the pipeline. When I work with clients and help them put qualifying elements in place, it’s not uncommon for them to flush 50% of the opportunities out of their pipeline. Often there are engagements that were never going to close anyway or ones that had aged to over 12 months. That means that 50% of your pipeline may be creating a tremendous false expectation that will have a major impact on your forecasting and budgeting processes. Plus, pipelines full of erroneous expectations can be demoralizing to your sales force. So instead of managers spending time “closing” deals with their sales people, I suggest they spend time helping them better qualify opportunities early on. The reality is if someone is going to buy from you anyway (as in, they are “qualified” properly), they don’t have to be closed – they will “buy.”

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Managing Selling Activities Versus Revenue Results

I recently read “Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance” by Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana. The authors present a central premise that is so obvious but it’s one I see routinely ignored in sales management: You can’t manage to revenue results. Or, as one of the selling programs I use says, “Relying on revenue results to learn about sales problems helps you discover that you are too late to fix them.”

I believe sales leaders are conditioned this way because they are managed to revenue results. And that’s the way they then in turn manage down. A good example is when a sales manager pressures his or her staff people into committing to a public revenue number during monthly or quarterly sales meetings. The reality is, if sales cycles are four months or more, those results are already pretty much determined. So what’s the point?

In fact, most sales are won or lost in the first one or two calls, right at the very beginning of the sales cycle. So, shouldn’t management focus its efforts on making sure sales people are doing the right things early in the sales cycle? This is where sales people can best position themselves, your offerings, and your company with buyers in your target markets. Isn’t that what really should be shared with the rest of the sales team – the activities that lead to results?

Unfortunately, I think it’s easier to manage to results than dig down and understand any real correlation between activities and revenue results. I know firsthand working with clients that the myriad of pipeline reports, forecasts, and dashboards just adds to the frustration of identifying what’s really important to focus on for improved performance.

The authors of the book do a very good job of bringing order to the sometimes chaotic world of sales and business performance measurement. But more important is their straightforward framework for connecting sales activities to objectives and then to business results. The concept seems simple. The difficulty is the execution when you are under the gun to produce results. I recommend you read the book and think about what you can do in your own environment to bring focus to those activities that you can better manage to achieve breakthrough results.

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Ready to Drive More Revenue?

The Naro Group's free Sales Performance Assessment uncovers revenue-blocking obstacles within your sales organization. Using the core capabilities of high-performing sales organizations as a baseline, the assessment will discover where your organization's proficiency falls short in these areas of sales effectiveness:

Sales Readiness

How quickly and efficiently are your sales people moving qualified pipeline opportunities to closure? Do your existing sales methodologies and processes fully support your sales team? Do your sales people have the skills, pipeline models, forecasting capabilities, opportunity management, and planning tools that they need to succeed? Are they engaging in the right activities throughout the sales cycle?

Sales Enablement

Do your sales people have all the intelligence they need about your products, markets, and the competition? Do they have access to the right knowledge-based support tools? Is each member of your sales team fully prepared to sell your specific offerings? Can your sales people have conversations that engage buyers and lead them into sales cycles?

Learn what gaps might be hindering your sales organization.

Schedule your free Sales Performance Assessment now. Call The Naro Group at 603.881.7712 or email us today.