This is the time of year when companies complete their business planning for the year ahead. In a few short weeks, the projections will be completed and the numbers laid to rest.
Owners, CEOs and leaders should remember General Patton’s audacity when he preached, “A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
The question is: where is your official, authentic and ironclad sales plan? Has it been lost? Concealed from you? Is it so private you can’t see if yourself? It’s a tragedy, because not having a written sales plan has become an epidemic.
Your revenue growth is crippled and the year is still weeks away. This should be jaw-dropping and eye-opening for you.
You have been reduced to relying on the feeble attempt of each individual sales team member to have their own magic plan for the year. They won’t have one to share with you. Because they don’t have a plan, and never did; this explains why sales have been flat or declining or not growing how you planned all these years.
This is the first little known fact that is toxic to revenue growth: no written sales plan.
The second fact is your sales compensation plan is out of date. If you want to keep top performers, they need to know they are appreciated. Your new hires and B players want to know how they can earn more. Nothing says “thank you and I will work harder now” than big commission checks.
The third thing dangerous fact holding back profitable revenue is that it has not been made clear what kind of business you want coming in the door. Lacking clear direction, sales people will bring in all the low hanging fruit they can find, and some will be rotten. Take the time to clearly delineate your ideal client.
Fourth, the lack of a company-wide prospecting effort means that sales people need to spend their time bumbling through prospecting instead of spending their time presenting and closing. Set a company goal to have your industry’s best prospecting program.
The frightening thing is that sales people won’t hesitate to use as an excuse for not selling is a lack of leads. Make the commitment to have a constant stream of high quality leads coming into your business every week.
In fact, sales people rarely prospect because it is so painful. These individuals will, figuratively, drink poison to get out of this torture called prospecting.
The fifth fact is that the average sales person does not make their first call before 11 a.m. on any given day. It’s a mind-blowing vision to see sales people running out the door for a quick sales call followed by a long lunch.
The sixth fact to address is that the typical sales person is happy to spend seventy one percent of their time either doing administrative work (34%) or in other blissful non-revenue producing activities (37%).
The seventh fact is that just fifteen percent of a salesperson’s day is spent with current clients. Only fourteen percent of the time is a sales person actually prospecting.
Fact eight is that the most valuable time any sales person has is during normal working hours. That varies by industry but usually starts around 7 a.m. and ends around 6 p.m. Yet, where will you find your sales people during those peak selling times? They are sitting in the office, ready to attack that stack of paperwork that has been on their desk for months, perhaps years.
Ninth, a full fifty percent of all sales calls end with the sales person not moving the business relationship forward. That does not mean that an order has to be asked for. It means that the sales person does not know how to create, and build, a relationship with a buyer.
The tenth fact is that as the leader, you need to address these numbers if revenue is to grow in your company.
After the first call, half of the sales people give up. They are convinced the prospect will not buy. Visualize the money spent on prospecting being flushed away.
Following the second call, a full 65 percent of sales people have quit calling on the prospect.
More prospects have been vaporized by sales people.
Once the third call is completed, 79 percent of sales people are done with the prospect.
After the fourth call, 90 percent of sales people won’t make another call on the prospect.
Yet, research suggests that by the eighth call, not only has a relationship started to form, the sales person has been the only person who has been both consistent and persistent in pursuit of the business opportunity.
Finally, the most important fact is that your role has to be one of teacher, coach and enforcer. You have to set up a sales university that will constantly improve the sales skills of every member of the team, from rookie to the old pro; you will need to get out and work with everyone and coach them to improve, and you will need to enforce a policy of “improve and achieve or else.”
Ignore these eleven facts at your own peril.
Ken Keller is the CEO of Strategic Advisory Boards. Strategic Advisory Boards guides leaders to their desired future through use of peer perspective, best business practices and leadership tools while reducing risk and unnecessary expense. For a complimentary leadership assessment, please visit www.strategicadvisoryboards.com. Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The SCVBJ.