I was recently asked if summer was a slow season for me. Having worked with startup CEOs, small business owners, and enterprise executives for the past decade, summer is when the busy season is just starting. It surprised me that I hadn’t really noticed it before, and when I started to wonder why I realized - it’s probably because when we set goals for ourselves, it's hard to ignore the halfway mark of the year when you are barely getting there, or falling further and further behind.
If you have set a clear goal and vision of where you want the business to be at by the end of this year, you’ve probably broken it down into your quarterly and monthly targets (depending on the average length of your sales cycle). If you miss a month, not a big deal- it can be made up next month. You may even continue to believe you can tweak and pivot after a missed, or barely made- revenue target for the first quarter. Still plenty of time to make up for it in the second quarter right?
Expecting big things to happen in Q2, things start to get panicky when it looks like the tweaks and pivots you have done aren’t executing well, or aren’t getting the bigger results you need to make up for the previous lack of results. By the end of Q2, it’s an “all hands on deck” moment…
And that’s why summer and into the end of the year are the busiest times for us. That’s when everyone from the front line sales person to the CEO is looking for a life raft for the boat that has had several small leaks for too long. If only those gaps and leaks had been identified and repaired before the ship set sail...
3 Sales Leaks that Lead to Flat or Declining Revenue
Most CRM reports should be able to help you identify how severe these three revenue “leaks” are in your boat. The real questions are what is causing these leaks and what can be done about it? When you’ve invested in the training workshops (and 90% of it is forgotten within a month), the new tech (that you have to hire people to figure out, no one can agree on, and not everyone uses the same way- if at all) and hired consultants to work over processes (that seem to take forever and no one seems to really follow in the end) to plug the holes, yet they still persist, what don’t you know that you need to know in order to fix it?
Here are the top 3 leaks we find most often and the a few of the questions we ask (and use science to answer) to find the hidden, and seemingly small, root cause.1) Discounting = not selling on value. Do your salespeople know why people will buy? Do they believe in buying based on value, not price, themselves? Are they comfortable and confident discussing money with potential customers? How much money is a lot of money to them? Are they able to differentiate themselves from the competition?
Can they sell more effectively on the value of solving a problem?2) Unreliable Forecasting = not qualifying or disqualifying. How often do salespeople get to decision makers? Do they uncover actual budgets and discuss finances? Do they ask questions to discover the cost of doing nothing? How are they helping buyers to establish a timeline to get results and mutual agreement on when to buy a solution? Do they stay in the moment or get excited and happy when prospects give them ‘buying signals’? Do they look for reasons why a customer might not be successful with your solution?
Will the opportunities in the pipeline support the revenue goal?3) Long sales cycles = accepting put offs. Do the salespeople believe everything prospects say? Do they accept the delays because they want to be nice and well liked? Are they talking with the right people? How much skepticism do they have? Will they push back and ask more and tougher questions? Do the salespeople’s own decision making process support a shorter selling process? And if you have a long and complex decision making process, do your salespeople motivations support that consistent effort? Do they sell consultatively and uncover urgency to solve a problem? Do they follow a sales process?
Can the sales cycle be optimized?
This is just a short list of questions to ask to determine the cause of your boat’s sales leaks. You could hire a consultant to ask these and many more questions. You could hire a director or VP to do it internally. That could take anywhere from 2- 6 months just to get those answers.
Then of course to create a sales development plan around those answers and determine who can improve isn’t going to happen overnight either.
If you are halfway through the journey and the boat is leaking- do you have that kind of time?
Use this link and in 5 minutes score the relative effectiveness of your current sales force compared to others as well as an explanation on what the score means.