To successfully manage your sales team, it’s absolutely critical that you keep your eyes on who’s hitting their quotas, but you shouldn’t stop there.
The strength of your sales funnel is not merely a matter of reps getting their numbers in each quarter but also about looking at all the other variables that lead up to and follow each deal. For this reason, it’s critical to measure and optimize some of those variables throughout the sales process so that reaching sales quotas will practically take care of itself.
Of course, you can’t get started without recognizing what those other metrics are. Even if you’ve adopted standard sales funnel management practices around win rates, average deal size and so on, it takes time and experience to know what other data should be captured and discussed. Sales software, like Sales Cloud for example, provides you with more actionable insights as it gathers more data, so the ROI for your time and effort is guaranteed.
Let this post be your first step on that journey so that the next time you sit down with your sales team you can explain how the sales funnel template has been rewritten:
Sales reps tend to be people-oriented by nature. They like to talk, they like to listen and they like to interact live, either by phone or in person. Selling involves more than a conversation, however. It involves arming leads and prospects with information they can explore and consider afterwards, or even share with other members of their team.
Marketing departments often spend considerable portions of their budgets developing sales sheets, buyer’s guides and other collateral materials that can meet this need, but it’s only effective if reps actually pass it on. In your next performance conversation, ask the rep:
How many of your last five deals were assisted through the use of an ebook, white paper, blog post or other piece of marketing?
When do you usually offer marketing content during the sales cycle?
How do you follow up on the marketing content you provide, and how do you capture the prospect’s reaction or feedback?
How well does the marketing team understand your use of the content they produce?
Some of the answers may require a sliding scale from one to five, but you get the idea. Getting specific about their use of marketing collateral will begin to nurture better habits over time.
Some reps may still not believe that what’s said on social channels like Twitter or LinkedIn is something they need to focus on. In fact, social media dialogue is quickly becoming one of the critical sales pipeline stages, and it can’t be ignored.
Although it may take time to properly train your team about how best to use social media as a sales tool, start with some of these suggestions:
How many decision makers in your target market have you followed in the past week?
How often are you sharing information — including links to news articles from third parties — that align with the company’s value proposition or that reflect common customer pain points?
How often are you inputting information culled from social that can help build a stronger picture of key client interests, buying behaviours or other data?
Treating social media with the same rigor as phone calls and email messages won’t happen overnight, but now is the time to get started.
Every stage of the sales cycle is important, but perhaps no window of opportunity is more critical than the moment after a customer has been given a comprehensive look at what your products and services do. This is typically where the toughest questions come out, where details around configurations and quotes need to be revised and where, without getting all the details right, a deal will likely fail to close.
Don’t assume that a demo is an indication of any certainty about a final sign-off. Instead, look at what really goes on during this period:
How long does the demo-to-decision process take when it ends in a win? What about in a loss?
What kind of content is typically exchanged during the demo-to-decision window? How might it be improved?
Who (besides the rep) tends to be involved at this stage — marketing, customer service and other groups could potentially all have valuable roles to play.
This is a great place to A/B test some strategies around what CRM data can make the difference in accelerating demos to decisions in your sales funnel, and what else you might need to do or change.
The most successful companies aren’t simply satisfied by gaining a customer, they want advocates. They want customers to be so happy that they’ll be prepared to share their positive experiences with peers — which could speed up all the other sales pipeline stages.
Reps are often the first point of contact for turning customers into advocates, and they have a vested interest in anything that makes selling to other leads easier. So put your heads together and figure out:
How long does someone have to be a customer before they’re willing to be referenced in a case study or testimonial?
How much faster do leads and prospects tend to convert when they see case studies or testimonials from similar companies?
What kind of data (around cost savings, productivity boosts, etc.) from case studies or testimonials tend to drive more leads or conversions?
Sales funnel management requires discipline from everyone on the team -- the reps, managers and other departments like marketing. When that discipline is part of the company’s routine, though, it makes the sales process less of a mysterious black box and more of an open book that everyone can easily understand. That’s the “secret sauce” for fast-growing companies that rely on Sales Cloud.
Learn more ways to help your sales team succeed with our ebook, “4 Steps to Transforming Your Sales Process.”