Oh the irony!
When you’re business is growing so fast you can no longer keep up anymore…
When you have to weigh priorities on a daily basis and find that instead of having a lot of time and no money like in the beginning…
You now have hardly any time, and still not enough money…
And though you’d love to spend all the time necessary on your sales leads, just like you used to (and just like you know is necessary to converse them into shiny and happy customers), something’s just gots to give.
Spending less time on your leads will for sure have a negative effect on your conversion…
And you don’t have enough money to simply hire more and more people…
So what then?
Well…no worries! Every growing business faces this challenge at one point or another and there are definitely ways to deal with this effectively!
The Highest Possible Quality Of Sales For the Lowest Possible Costs
So given the fact that you’ve got more work to do, relatively less time and money to do it in AND a clear desire to keep your conversion level at where it is now (or higher)…what can you do?
There are many different levers to pull on, but if you want to make sure you get the highest level of quality against the lowest level of costs, there are 3 ingredients that definitely need to be in place.
Let’s take a look at each of these elements individually:
1. EVERYBODY has sales skills and experiences
It seems pretty straightforward that you make sure that your sales team has all the right skills but weirdly enough, there are plenty of businesses who don’t pay attention to this at all.
Sure, most businesses try to hire the right people for the job but I’ve also seen businesses where people would be spending most hours of their work week cold calling customers without any real knowledge on the psychology of sales.
And though all the best intentions and hard work are always there, it does mean waaaayy lower conversion rates (= low quality of sales) against a lot of operational costs.
So step 1: make sure your salesforce has all the capabilities they need to sell your specific product or service.
And how you do this:
- Create a framework of required sales capabilities
- Create, insource and/or outsource all the right training and coaching modules required to build these capabilities
- Map the required capabilities with the actual capabilities of your team (don’t forget yourself!)
- Roll out the required training and coaching over time
- Continuously re-assess, refine and improve as your product, your business and your team evolves and grows.
Bonus: check out this ‘Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Selling Anything‘ by James Altucher; I love his fresh perspective on things and really think that today’s business world can use some fresh thinking!
And for step 2: make sure ALL your team members have at least 2 weeks of sales experience with YOUR product and YOUR customers.
Yes…even the numbercrunchers and codemonkeys need to understand how this sales process works.
- They need to feel what it’s like to pick up that phone
- They need to know what arguments customers use when NOT choosing for your product
- They need to understand what reasons customers have to DO buy your product
- They need to get close to the problem your business is solving for your customers
It’s invaluable experience that they will then bring into their own work. It will help them understand why certain things need to be designed a certain way. Or why certain complaints and questions keep coming in.
To be fair though…also make sure that your sales team spends time in other areas of the business too, so that they also understand what goes on there and that they can’t just push things just the way they want to (which is a nasty sales habit…).
Get this right and you’ve got your foundation for a high quality of sales well covered!
But…what to do about the fact that time is still wasted by the fact that everybody does the administrative part of sales still in their own little way?
2. ALL relevant customer data is ALWAYS available
And not just that…it all needs to be in 1 single place!
That means not spread out over all sorts of apps, spreadsheets, notebooks and post-its and across different people in the team…but all captured in 1 tool that everybody uses in just the same way.
And here’s why (apart from knowing EXACTLY what your salesfunnel looks like, but that’s another blogpost waiting to happen):
Reason 1: To secure the sales ‘hooks’
Each and every customer wants to be seen, heard and recognised (without it getting too stalky); they want the personal touch.
The problem however is, is that when your customer and prospect base continue to grow, it becomes harder and harder to simply remember everything like you probably did in the beginning.
Even more so when your sales cycle stretches over weeks or months!
So having one database in which you document those elements from sales meetings that might seem relevant to know or understand the next time is very important.
And be sure to go beyond the ‘normal’ sales elements (quantity, price, timing etc.) but pick up on the more personal things too. Quality of sales is ALL about that human relationship!
Reason 2: To instantly and effectively deal with the lead (even when it’s not you picking up the phone)
Of course you want to make sure that it’s mainly 1 person dealing with an opportunity to really secure that oh so necessary relationship. But when you have lot’s of different opportunities in the air and people in the team, it might very well be that on occasion, the 1 person in the lead of an opportunity can’t make the meeting or the call.
And you really don’t want to just hang up on a customer when they’re ready to negotiate.
So whenever possible (all depending on your products and types of customers of course), you’ll want to make it as person independent as possible.
And the only way to do so is by logging all those important details and using an application that’s supereasy to navigate through.
And here’s the how:
- By first of all figuring out what the right (CRM) tool is for you
- There are quite a few out there with all sorts of different features and pricetags, so first make sure you know what you want and how you want to use it
- I’ve not worked with Salesforce myself but have heard really good feedback on it. I also know Zoho CRM is highly appreciated and my personal favourite is Capsule CRM (a) because it is extremely versatile and is able to facilitate all the aftersales processes too (see point 3)
- Secondly, you’ll need to agree as a team what you are and what you aren’t going to capture. I can recommend NOT trying to capture a sales meeting word for word (we’re trying to save time remember?) but making sure you’ve got just the right bullet points that capture everything is such a way that when a colleague sees it, they understand immediately. It takes some practice, but it’s doable!
- Thirdly, you just need to do it. And be consistent in doing it. And be strict in the fact that everybody does it (being a founder or director is NOT an excuse btw!)
But…you’ll still have to somehow remember when to follow-up on your leads and what actions you need to take to make the sale happen. And that’s where usually a lot of mistakes are made and things forgotten.
3. A monkeyproof flow through the process
You’ll need to make sure that you don’t even have to think about the next step in the sales process with a particular lead. Not about the content of it and not about the timing of it.
What you want is to make sure it simply comes popping up in your action list (and that you do keep on track with your actions of course).
Because automated triggers will make sure you never forget a step.
If you’ve promised a lead to send the proposal within 2 days and you forget about it and send it in 5, that might’ve cost you the sale.
If you send out the proposal but forget to follow up on it in a few days, that too might have cost you the sale.
If you’re lucky, your potential customer is interested enough to call you yourself but most of the time this will not happen leading you to lose the time and energy that went into the sale so far.
Because having the same heartbeat for every lead will ultimately save you time.
It will standardise your own way of working, and the way of working in your team. Meaning that it is easier to exactly figure out how each and every lead (and team member) is progressing and how to optimise the sales process in such a way that it even converts better and/or cost even less time.
All in all, it means that you can easily up the quality of sales from that simple solution for standardising your workflow.
And how you do this:
If you can get all this (including all your aftersales processes) in 1 tool (or get really nifty by integrating everything properly), it will save you tons of time and frustration with data pollution later on as your company gets even bigger.
Again, my favourite: Capsule CRM (a) because it simply captures everything you need and is easy to integrate with other popular cloudtools.
But whatever you choose, make sure that:
- You’ve got your standard process including timing well-defined
- Everybody in the end works from 1 dashboard and from 1 dashboard only!
Making Sure all this works in YOUR business
Of course every business, every product and every team and person is different.
And you’re absolutely right in the fact that there is no clean cut way of doing all this right.
It’s something you’ll have to wiggle with yourself.
But I can assure you, that when you’ve got these 3 ingredients in a row…
With just the right tools for your business…
And using just the right settings for your customers…
And with just the right level of ‘creative freedom’ for your team…
You WILL be able to get the highest possible conversion ratio for the lowest possible costs.
Because it’s all about those shiny and happy new customers, isn’t it?