How was your sales teams performance in Q1, and what does your pipeline look like over the next two quarters? If you made your Q1 sales target and have a robust qualified pipeline, congratulations. If you missed your plan and have doubts about the quality and accuracy of your current pipeline there is still time to correct the situation.
Correcting a first quarter revenue shortfall wont be easy and may create controversy within your sales organization, but a little controversy is better than a revenue miss anytime! If you do find yourself in this situation, take a look at the following recommendations. You probably realize that many of the activities outlined below should have been implemented in a phased approach earlier in the sales year, but a burst implementation will still yield results this year.
Immediately review the current marketing business plan. Its not about branding anymore.
How much of the current marketing budget is directly impacting lead generation for your sales team? From here forward, every activity within marketing needs to be focused on bringing qualified leads to your sales team. If there is no way to determine a programs impact on lead generation consider dropping it.
Marketing needs to own a portion of the sales revenue plan and the easiest way to get this to happen is through compensation alignment between the two organizations. Its likely that your 2013 compensation has been finalized but you can always add a sweetener for your marketing team to begin altering the behaviors. Also consider outsourcing some of the marketing function. Finding external support for non-core marketing functions makes sense especially in areas like marketing automation and demand generation support. These are very specialized skills that need upgrading in most B2B marketing organizations.
Focus the sales team on high value sales prospects.
Its very common for a sales person to continue to chase deals that have been in a no-decision status for a long period of time. They will have a myriad of reasons why the deal is still viable but we all know that time helps no sale. If an opportunity has aged 150% or longer than your average sales cycle time, reduce the probability of closure or remove it from the forecast.
Many sales reps will also routinely put opportunities into the CRM because they hope something will happen sometime in the future. Focusing on poorly qualified opportunities can cause you to miss a real opportunity. This practice leads to a pipeline bloated with unqualified deals. The best place for these leads is in your marketing automation programs lead nurturing campaign.
Lose low sales performers now.
Take a look at the performance of the bottom third of your team. If the performance gap between your lowest third and top producers is more than 50% consider dropping the lowest third as soon as possible. Rather than replacing them right away use the freed up funds to:
- Improve the skills of your top producers
- Improve your opportunity management processes
- Implement programs that will yield more leads to your rainmakers.
Its also more fun spending time with your rainmakers than working performance improvement programs!
This may seem like a lot to do in a short period but the health of your company may depend on it. Putting these recommendations into action will probably require some very difficult discussions with your peers and the executive team.
Act now and the choice is still yours. Stay on the current course and hope for the best or implement change and emerge as a strong competitor in 2014.