Tips on How to Align Sales Marketing With a Common Sales Method – Part 3

Using a common language, (part 1), and understanding how customers make buying decisions, (part 2). We can turn to the final leg of our 3 legged stool on how to align sales and marketing.Using a customer focused view to optimize a common sales method.On this last leg, consider a bottoms up approach, (tip 1) and a top down approach, (tip 4). Using both approaches to test, refine and improve a common sales method.Tip 1: Let’s start with what can be one of the more difficult areas to gain consensus between sales and marketing.What is a Sales Ready Lead?Current practice is to mutually define a “marketing lead” and a “sales ready lead”. There are now two hand-offs in a common sales method. When marketing transitions a lead to sales, and when sales transitions a lead back to marketing to be nurtured.In aligned companies, marketing is responsible to nurture leads until the individual says, “tell me more”. As the individual is moving from a latent to an active need and entering discovery, the sales team steps in to manage the buying cycle.If the prospect stalls out or is lost to the competition. Return the higher caliber leads to marketing to be nurtured, (based on internal rankings).Tip 2: Measure marketing on the percentage of sales orders which were initiated by a marketing lead. The leads obtained directly by marketing, not referrals or leads sales discovered on their own.Hold marketing accountable to obtain higher quality leads. Measure the percentage of leads which become sales ready. It is no longer a numbers game to generate 1000’s of leads.With marketing feeding higher quality leads to sales, conversion of sales ready to evaluation to orders are meaningful ratios. Hold sales accountable to move sales ready leads through their funnels. In addition to their normal quota’s.Tip 3: Capture important attributes and milestones in the lead management system.Customer focused messaging is built on individuals by title and market. Track attributes which help identify which messages resonant with prospects. With the objective to provide higher quality leads to sales.Track sufficient attributes such as title, industry, company size and messaging used to be able to review and improve upon messages and activity combinations which provide more sales ready leads.Use a small cross functional team of sales, marketing and subject matter experts who meet regularly to review and improve the effectiveness of demand generation tools. As well as support tools, used by both sales and marketing.A new paradigm: It is more important to know which messages resonate with prospects by their respective titles and markets. Then to know which activities generate the most quantity of leads.Tip 4: Switching to a top down approach, use the customers buying phases and align them with internal consultative based sales stages.As a reminder, the buying phases from part 2 were:
Discovery
Evaluation
Commitment
Tip 5: During discovery, prospects prefer to have conversations around their business and ways to help them achieve their needs based on value.This requires sales to engage with prospects, run a discovery and document with “value” their conversations back to the prospect. Common consultative sales stages lined up with the discovery phase can be called:
Making Contact
Discovery of Needs and Vision of Solution
Qualify Opportunity Based on Value
Each of these stages has individual steps which match up with how customers make decisions to buy your products and services. The stages stay the same in a common sales method. Modify the detailed steps for differences across internal product and service groupings, and channel strategies.Tip 6: During the evaluation phase, prospects are looking to confirm their Vision of a Solution, the value, and establish a transition plan,(if required), to bring in the new capabilities being considered. The common sales stage lined up with the evaluation phase can be called:Qualification and Control of the Decision Process.The objective is not to over control the decision process. It is to have detailed steps which match up to the types of products or services being offered. To help the buying committee, (which may be 1 person), make a decision to buy or not to buy. Two of the common steps become. Develop a mutually agreed upon written buying evaluation plan, followed by a transition plan.Proof of the potential value and the Vision of a Solution are built into the buying evaluation and transition plans as milestones. Some of these milestones become go-no go decision points. Where either the buyer or the seller may decline to go forward.Bad news early is good news!Tip 7: The third buying phase is commitment and the buying committee,(or single individual), will begin to feel risk. The commitment to buy is one area, the requirement to transition the business creating change may be another. This sales stage can be called:Consensus to Move Forward.In this stage the detailed steps need to help the buying committee, (or individual), deal with the emotional feelings of risks. Being prepared to negotiate a win-win outcome, (which started the first day sales met the prospect). Executing on a prepared negotiation plan and obtaining verbal commitment become the main sales steps.Tip 8: There are now 3 buying phases lined up with 6 consultative based sales stages. Each stage has detailed steps which line up with the products and services being offered, and the channel strategy used.The sales stages stay the same across the company. It is not important what you name the stages internally or the exact quantity you define. Lining the stages up with how individuals make buying decisions around your products and services is what is critical. Whether they make the decision as a single person, or as part of a buying committee.Many people ask us, can an individual go through all of the buying phases in a single sales call? If it is possible to discover needs, move to a solution, define the value, offer acceptable proof and receive a verbal order in the call, then the answer is yes.In conclusion, we have finished building our 3 legged stool of how to align sales and marketing around a common language, (part 1), how your customers buy, (part 2), and a common sales method.

How to Hold Your Salespeople Accountable – Part 1 of 6 on Sales Management

What is the number 1 challenge faced by sales management? Achieving sales targets…Handling difficult clients…Geographical distance…Managing personality diversity…Motivating salespeople or Keeping clients happy?Based on the feedback we have received for over the last 10 years the greatest challenge for sales management is how to achieve consistent sales performance from their salespeople.By the very nature of sales it’s a tough job yet there are salespeople, who quite frankly would be better suited in another role but they are still in sales. The question is why? To amplify the point a research paper written by Julian Griffith, ‘Taking the Lid off your Sales Organisation’ concluded that 74% of salespeople are underperformers, 20% are strong performers and only 6% are in the elite category.With such a high percentage of underperformers the problem rests squarely with sales management. Quoting from the same paper:
• 18% of sales managers should not be in sales management
• 34% of sales managers are not trainable
• 7% of sales managers are considered elite performersAs a manager responsible for sales, let’s face it salespeople are not the easiest group of people to manage. They don’t like to be held accountable particularly the underperformers who cause most of the headaches and consume most of their sales manager’s time.In successful sales organizations sales management do hold their salespeople accountable and have the respect of their salespeople. In this environment salespeople will go the extra mile to achieve and surpass their sales targets. They set a standard that others in the salesforce want to follow. The push for higher sales performance comes from peer pressure and not so much from sales management.Where to begin?
Create buy-in with your salespeople and openly discuss and encourage interaction by using the following sales accountability tools:1) The measures and performance they will be accountable forBegin by asking yourself, what is this salesperson capable of achieving and is there anything preventing them from achieving it? When discussing measures and performance let your salesperson know the reason for the sales or other targets by linking them back to the business goals. This will help them to understand why.Talk about financial incentives and or sales awards on offer and your accountability to them. Your accountability could be the minimum days you will commit to working with them in their sales territory. When they know you are accountable to them as they are to you it demonstrates that accountability works both ways. This often has a motivating effect on salespeople.Measures and performance need to be clearly defined so there are no uncertainties. Whilst measures should be realistic and achievable there needs to be a stretch factor to make it challenging for the salesperson. Measures can be daily, weekly or monthly units.Example:
– Number of daily sales calls made to existing clients
– Number of daily sales calls made to prospective clients
– Number of on time reports handed in per month
– Percentage profit margin per product2) Taking personal responsibilityIf a sales manager doesn’t take personal responsibility for his or her actions and uses excuses for non performance then how can they expect their salespeople to behave any differently? The leadership you demonstrate and the environment you create can inspire your salespeople to want to follow you.This can include:
– What you say is what you do
– You don’t use excuses but find other ways to get results
– You don’t accept excuses from your salespeople
– You demonstrate your commitment to your salespeople’s success
– You expect nothing less than the best from your salespeople
– You set the tone and pace of sales performanceIf you have a salesperson who doesn’t take responsibility then you may need to mentor them. Focus on their behaviour and the problems it is causing and not on the person. They need to be held accountable for their actions which can include low prospecting activity, not meeting sales targets and low margin sales.
Only when your salespeople fully appreciate that by taking total responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, behaviour and sales results can they experience great success. This is a proactive approach to accountability.3) A results mindsetThere are basically two occupation mindsets:
3.1) Task orientated which leads to much activity but often doesn’t provide productivity gains
3.2)The results mindset that focuses on daily activities that are aligned with the sales targetIf you have a salesperson that is task orientated begin by showing them how this behaviour leads to poor sales outcomes and is typically revealed by a low sales call to order ratio. You will need to spend time coaching them because there will be sales skills issues that you need to address, for example not qualifying prospective clients.It may be tempting to become emotionally involved when holding your salesperson accountable but you need to remain focused or you will lose control of the situation. You are the sales manager so do what needs to be done even if it feels somewhat uncomfortable initially. The bottom line is that you are responsible for sales.