Your sales function is essential to growing your business. If you don’t get the basics right your operations team, your customers and your bank manager could have a big problem.
Have you come across any of these scenarios in your business?
Inaccurate customer requirements and last minute changes to the specification
Customer promises that are made but aren’t relayed to your operations team
Hot deals that suddenly disappear off the radar
Opportunities that aren’t really a good fit for the business
These problems can occur when your sales team doesn’t fully appreciate the complexities of your offering, how you produce it, and perhaps even your overall business goals.
This isn’t unusual given that most sales functions develop organically as the business grows. However there comes a time when a lack of leadership and structure will hold you back, and destroy your profitability.
Standardise your sales documents so all the team knows what you’re selling
Most problems and unexpected costs that arise in operations can be traced back to poor sales proposals and order documents.
If you standardise your product and service offering you can create a consistent costing process. The Sales team can follow this to capture customer needs consistently.
Creating a master product list, driven by an agreed Bill of Materials, ensures that operations know exactly what is being sold, right down to the parts and labour needed to produce or assemble a product.
This in turn means you know how much a job will cost and how much profit it will make, so you can forecast cash-flow if the jobs goes ahead.
With a clear understanding of how long things take to produce, alongside your current workload, your sales team can manage customer expectations about delivery times.
To avoid internal confusion standardise bespoke requests
Where a customer has bespoke requirements on top of the core product, creating a standard form for capturing this reduces confusion on both sides. This spec can be agreed and costed with your Operations, Design and Purchasing teams, and signed off before making promises or issuing quotations.
Key take aways to consider now
Create a consistent costing process
Create a master product list
Create a Bill of Materials
Create a form to standardise bespoke requirements
Target and qualify your sales prospects
Your targeting should be based on business growth goals – key sectors, geographies and products.
Focus on customers you can actually help, and qualify their buying intent ruthlessly. Your marketing and sales functions should be working together to identify and nurture potential customers that are a good fit for your business.
In order to fill quota some sales people will take any and all prospects that look like they might have a need that your company can fulfill. These sales are never going anywhere, a competitor has a more suitable offering, or the ‘prospect’ has no intention, or means, of buying the product.
Qualify sales prospects by determining:
If they’re a good fit
If they have a real need for your solution
If they have budget available
If the buyer has authority and/or influence to make the purchase
Manage your sales pipeline activity
Selling is a science. The actions needed to locate, qualify and nurture real potential customers can be identified.
Sales people should be focusing on building relationships with companies they can sell to and ruthlessly qualify out those that cannot or will not buy.
By looking at your sales activity trends you should be able to see how many meetings, calls and proposals are required to convert into sales.
As your business and sales team grows, it’s important to measure the activities of each individual. Make sure they’re doing the right kind of activities that generate real sales opportunities.
Elements of sales software activity
Depending on your business and customers typical sales activity can include:
As you recruit new team members they can learn the system, and focus on the right activities. Managing your sales pipeline through a configurable CRM platform becomes a process of ensuring the right quantity and type of tasks are being carried out.