May 062013

As June 30 looms, securing revenues will force organsiations to behave in two very different ways. Those that are on budget and have every faith they’ll meet the June 30 target. Then there will be those who are behind and continue to scramble to secure business.

Organisations, which fall into the later will regurgitate a series of short term tactics with the hope they now amazingly work to secure the sale. The problem here is that they didn’t work for the past 10 months, so why expect anything different now?

The most common tactic applied now will be to offer a discount to “sign the contract before June 30” and secure the business for this years budget.

Organisations may need to do that to keep the doors open, but what happens come July 1… what will the organisation do differently to perform better, and ultimately improve revenue next year?

Maybe the best option is to invest those short-term tactics into resetting next year’s revenue budgets. Not every business may be able to afford this, but the focus is to find a “solution” and hit July 1 with a bang!

Some reasons to consider this;

• Hammering out some marketing “incentives to buy”, just reinforces your seller priority not your buyer need
• Dropping the price to close the sale (often known as the Drop-Close), only sets the expectation that you’re desperate and the customer is likely to expect that service and “value” going forward
• Not everyone deserves either or both of the above. If you do need to deploy the above, ensure you are micro targeted with your audience, offer and perceived value

As you keep one eye on the present, the other must be looking towards the next 1 – 3 years. In 12 months you don’t want to be forced into these same survival tactics do you? In fact, something to consider is what did your organization do during the same period over the past two years?

Traditional solutions would focus on improving the following;

1. Create more leads
2. Improve sales people selling skills
3. Increase the customer product mix

These are but a few questions that DO NOT help an organisaton define its revenue performance maturity.

New age solutions would focus on pinpointing the root cause to poor revenue performance by improving insights into;

i. How many leads are needed
ii. What are the end-to-end conversion rates
iii. What does the entire buyer journey look like
iv. Where is revenue being lost

All of the above and more must be modelled of your ideal buyer profile. One thing is for sure, if your organisation is one of those who are behind and continue to scramble to secure business for June 30, then your overall business success is at risk.

Managing that risk could be viewed with efforts remaining high, as too the desire to improve yet it is most likely to be managed as separate business units. Unfortunately effort, desire and working in silo’s hinders progress.

For those wanting to learn more about improving revenue performance, we have hand picked the following insights for consideration;

Secrets to converting Sales Opportunities
Secrets to generating Quality leads
Secrets to managing the Buyer Cycle
3 Secrets to improve Revenue Performance
Secrets to building a Revenue Engine®

Nov 012012

Building sustainable sales performance, or as it is evolving “revenue performance”, is harder than ever thanks to the developments of technology and social media. Whether we like it or not, buyers have altered the way we sell forever. Yet many businesses are waking up to the fact their selling cycle needs to align with the buyer cycle. Change is needed to remain viable.

The most difficult part of change management isn’t coming up with new great ideas — it’s getting people to change their behaviours. How can sales leaders manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcomes?

Most changes that impact the sales organisation involve modifications to processes (e.g., the sales process), documents (e.g., order entry forms), skills (e.g. sales training) and roles and responsibilities (who does what during the post-sale implementation).

If the sales team are needing to change then surely the business will support and change with them, right? Wrong! (most of the time anyway). Organisations around the world continue to wrestle with making sales performance more effective and efficient. And whilst that will be a key focus, smart organisations are grasping the opportunity to align their entire revenue functions to the buyer cycle… with startling results.

Learn more by watching our presentation titled “3 Secrets to improve Revenue Performance” 

Oct 012012

Before you reinvest in sales training, pause for a moment. What type of sales training do you need, who needs it and how will it be reinforced? Hang on… who said the root cause to fixing poor revenue performance was to invest in sales training!?

Are you about to reload and commit your resources to something that hasn’t worked… again? After all, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.

Sales training attracts hundreds of millions of dollars yet is having no measureable effect on improving revenue performance and it’s something the training companies are shy about. There’s nothing wrong with the training they offer, in fact it is an important CORE need to improving revenue performance.

All we’re saying is that the problem isn’t with the training.  The problem is much deeper and broader and raises questions into what is being done to create revenue.

Despite increasing spend on sales training and CRM systems, sales pipeline conversion rates continue to decline with nearly 1 in 2 sales reps missing sales targets. Vendors play a huge part here, whether a CRM vendor, Sales Training vendor or a marketing services provider. All have their specialty yet only remain focused on offering their “pre-packaged” notions to fix poor revenue; notions which in fact bare little if any resemblance to the way in which customers want to be engaged – or want to buy.

According to the Corporate Executive Board (“CEB”) nearly 60% of the typical purchasing decision was being made before engaging directly with a supplier. “Pre-packaged” notions also assume that one size fits all when it comes to improving revenue – an ignorant and bias assertion, and one that nearly every vendor practices. Sales Training programs are built on this.

Managing revenue performance is an end-to-end process, which needs the alignment of your CORE drivers including CRM and the skills of your sales teams to your customers and how they buy – as opposed to how you want to sell? Yet many sales people will apply the traditional ‘solution selling’ skills and find themselves out of their depth. Customers know much more about your product/solution and have in fact compared it to your key competitors already.  This leaves sales people with little to offer and end up selling based on price.

Unfortunately talented sales people continue to be shown the door when the root causes of their under-performance was in fact out of their control. There are some great sales people significantly under performing, and some very average sales people generating great revenue.  Data and analytics will help confirm the selling performance against potential.

If your process is not known or correct – how do you know if you are cutting a good sales person or that investing in sales training will help performance?

More research by Huthwaite shared that within a month of training, 87% of sales skills knowledge is lost.  Another, reminder that Sales training may not be the answer to poor sales results.

Poor revenue performance may need sales training, as part of the review and build of a Revenue Engine®. Pinpointing the blind-spots to poor revenue performance will finds the gaps and sales skills will be involved, the timing and type of sales training is the key. Before you invest in Sales Training, it makes sense to take the time to;

  1. Know what to fix, first
  2. Know why
  3. Know who

Bringing all this together can appear complicated, but experts can make that simple. We call bringing all this together “building a Revenue Engine®” Learn more about “what is a Revenue Engine®”  here


Aug 012012

In 2010 Harvard Business published a simple but startling fact. 1 in 250 sales people achieved their sales goal.

More relevant… how many, assuming they are still employed, have achieved their goals since?

Research indicates that number is just under 1 in 5. Much better, but hardly setting the business world on fire. Are businesses planning to see half of their sales team fail? We doubt it. And we don’t need to point out the obvious issues, notably the use of performance management on sales people or do we?

Like most organisations wrestling with revenue goals (maybe survival), the issue of quickly turning around sales performance remains a knee-jerk reaction, albeit a necessary one. If sales are doing it tough… what are the genuine reasons to that poor performance?

The secret to that line of thought is to firstly admit that Selling has changed, forever. Technology has and continues to enable your buyers to be more empowered than ever. They’re conducting their own research and comparisons, allowing them to dictate their buyer terms and timeframe. How do sales influence that?

They don’t, in a nutshell. Well not directly, like they used to. Sales now need to be much more wedded and engaged with marketing to ensure message, tools, behaviour and the use of technology is primed and qualifying buyer in OR out.

Secondly, identify stressed selling symptoms. Stressed selling, includes accepting poor quality leads, too many leads, allowing opportunities to stall hoping they convert and discounting to close a sale. Granted this is easy to spell out… and more difficult to action.

The good news… is that the problem is not directly related to sales. Marketing in fact now become the root cause, whereby they need to work smarter to target “ideal buyers” and focus marketing spend on that “ideal buyer” market. With radar focus, marketing then need to attract and generate better quality leads. The onus of progressing these leads, now becomes the responsibility of sales.The key metrics here are to know how many leads you need, how many exist and how many get rejected by sales.

Leadership need to rally around this approach to ensure sales teams have the ability to accept or reject leads. Those rejected are deemed to be “not ready” to progress. Selling teams spend more time actually selling to better qualified opportunities. Sales resources are expected to be robust and accessible to help buyers proceed.

This doesn’t mean sales become lazy or idle… in fact it’s the opposite. Sales now need to apply their skills, tools, collateral and process to the buyer when it suits them, otherwise known as the buyer cycle.

Many organisations, applying this methodology have realised startling results such as these;

• 23% Increase in Sales Conversion Ratio
• 22% Increase in Average Sales Target Attainment
• 56% Decrease in New Hire Ramp-Up Time
• 34% Decrease in Cost of Acquisition
• 14% Increase in Customer Satisfaction

Yes selling has changed and is harder than it ever has been. Technology was the cause but is also the savior, embrace it. Technology will provide data driven insights and marketing will now be much more transparent and accountable. Attracting, converting and retaining revenue isn’t about selling, it’s about your buyer. You need to make buying easier.

Bringing all this together can appear complicated, but experts can make that simple. We call bringing all this together “building a Revenue Engine®” Learn more about “what is a Revenue Engine®”

Apr 012012

Sales people, on the whole, are still underperforming with around 1 in 2 missing goal.  This performance places increasing pressure on business goals and the softer matters like culture and team work. Firing and rehiring is the initial knee jerk approach to improving sales performance.  Yes… replace them… but only if your 100% sure they are the problem.

Unfortunately, many organisations are chiselled from the old school approach, which is understandable considering most leaders are baby boomers. Additionally, the organisation is also likely to have a poorly aligned Revenue Engine®. Learn what a Revenue Engine® is here.

The point we are exposing here, is that if your organization has some degree of poor revenue performance and thinks the thing to improve is in fact the actual selling resource… then think again. It does make sense to assume poor sales results are a reflection on the sales person.  That is true but only to a degree. Time and time again, organisations are losing good selling people due to their internal inefficiencies. These inefficiencies are the basis of building and managing a revenue engine and impact sales performance from many angles and on many levels. Focusing on your recruitment, may not be the best way.

In reality, firing and recruiting another sales person is very costly when you quantify the total loss in productivity, loss in customer engagement and reputation. Research conducted by Chandler Macleod Group concluded the cost to replace a poor performing selling resource could equate to over $1M in a moderately complex selling environment. (someone selling technology on a base salary of just 100k)

The case for pinpointing the root cause to poor revenue performance is based on this consideration. There will be some symptoms that your selling resource is not the problem, for example;

  • Sales spend more than 10% of their time prospecting
  • Customer retention is poor
  • Monthly lead generation quota’s don’t exist
  • New staff need to “hit the ground running”

Selling resources are a huge investment to any organisation and yet are at times the most alienated, especially when poor sales results are on the table. So, before you start thinking that you may need to look into recruitment and replace a selling resource, ask yourself this simple question; “Is there any chance the sales rep doesn’t have everything in place to hit target?”

Maybe start with the symptoms offered earlier.

If there is any sense that you may answer “yes we may not have everything in place”, then you may be about to spend more money on a very short term answer. Avoid this by knowing where your blind-spots are to revenue performance.

You may be better off investing those resources (effort, time & budget) on something else… and that shouldn’t be sales training either.