Is your company experiencing revenue decreases because of the current business environment? You’re in good company and so we’ll look at some straighforward strategies for leaders to improve sales in the short run and set up opportunities for the long term.
What business owners, general managers and sales managers are noticing is a dramatic shift in their sales funnel. If you are unfamiliar with the term sales funnel, picture a funnel; wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. In good times, your sales funnel looks like a champagne flute – opportunities at the top drop to the bottom and become sales. In tough times your sales funnel tends to look like a martini glass – wide at the top and skinny at the bottom. You need more opportunities at the top to get the same amount of sales out the bottom.
Implications of a Martini-Glass Sales Funnel
- Prospecting and Account Targeting: Your sales group will need to expend more effort into new business development and identifying opportunities. This can be a shock to a sales group that was used to taking orders in good times. The ratio between opportunities and sales is called the conversion ratio. In good times you either had a higher conversion ratio or the sheer number of opportunities allowed you to grow sales. Consider a session for your sales team on how to prospect for business and target high probability prospects.
- Time and Territory Management: It is shocking how inefficient external sales professionals can be. If you took the total time available (working hours) and examined how much time is actually spent communicating with customers and advancing the sale, you might discover that efficiency is as low as 2% to perhaps 30% if you are lucky. A session on how to manage territories and opportunities can pay dividends. An alternative is to implement or expand the role of inside sales. An inside sales team can make more frequent contact with a larger group of customers, allowing your company to profitably service smaller sales. When inside sales identifies a large opportunity it can be handed over to an external sales rep.
- Negotiation and Closing Skills: Because customers are in a stronger bargaining position, your sales team will need to sharpen their negotiating skills to hammer out a deal and get a go ahead from the customer. Without tenacity and good negotiation skills, the time it takes to close a sale will extend and the margin will disappear with concessions demanded by the customer. Conside a workshop to emphasize how to negotiate a sale and then get a commitment from the customer.
We can help leaders take the necessary actions to improve sales and margins. Give us a call or send an email to discuss the possibilties. If travel budgets are tight, consider a webinar instead of a live meeting. Join us for our NEW Seminar or Webinar “Leadership Strategies to Grow Sales in a Recession” – Click Here
No matter what format of training makes sense for your company, require each person to make at least one concrete commitment on what they will do to improve sales. Then track the success and celebrate, ideally on a weekly basis.