Three Must Do's to Prepare Your Sales Team For Success

sales-planningWhether your role is CEO, President or Chief Sales Officer we know exactly what thought is swirling around in the back of your mind right now. “How in the world am I going to make next year’s revenue goal!” You barely scraped by this year with the sales team you have and 2013’s target is even bigger. Our recommendations is this, cover your bases. Take a quick read through the three suggestions we have in this article and make sure you have each area covered in your 2013 sales plan. Once you do, your chances for success just increased by leaps and bounds.

1. Prepare a Sales Revenue Plan

For companies to meet their full year cash flow obligations most forecast that their revenue will occur incrementally throughout the year. It can’t all come in at the end of the year or else the month-to-month cash requirements of the business wouldn’t be met. Most companies also plan on a certain percentage of each year’s forecasted revenue coming from ‘new’ business that the Sales team closes each month.

A major breakdown in this assumption occurs when Sales is measured on an annual ‘booking’ goal. This creates the scenario whereby Sales can ‘make their number’ late in the year, but the company misses their revenue plan because new orders hit too late to make the necessary impact on revenue. A sales revenue plan aligns the timing of forecasted new sales with the company’s monthly (or quarterly) revenue requirements.

OnTarget’s SALES REVENUE ASSURANCE Success Kit helps Sales Leaders align their projected sales forecast to the timing of the company’s revenue needs. It then calculates the required value of each stage of the sales pipeline, by quarter, so Sales has the chance to close enough business in time for billings to meet the company needs. Variable inputs allow for customized close rates, average deal values and unique stage progression rates.

2. Define and Formalize Your Sales Process

Sales, in many ways, is simply a process that if followed consistently produces the desired outcome. The issue for many companies is that the Sales Process to follow is left up to each individual sales rep. Imagine if your manufacturing operation, accounting or HR ran that way?

Take the time to design an effective sales process that meets the needs of both the sales team and the organizations that support sales (pricing, proposals, delivery, etc.). Make sure there is enough detail and granularity, but not so much that it bogs down the process.

The complexity and detail of your sales process should roughly match the duration and complexity of your typical sale. If your sales cycle is measured in days or (or even hours), you don’t need a 12 step sales process. However, large, complex sales typically require more than four or five steps in their sales process. For an added level of sophistication, identify how long you think each stage should take – on average – and then begin measuring the actual duration each of real opportunity as they work their way through your process. Over time you’ll begin to have a very good idea of the true velocity of your sales funnel.

3. Commit to Lead Generation

In the dark days of selling, lead generation was left up to the sales team. That was before websites, blogs, search engines, marketing automation, social media and other tools of today’s demand generation trade. The consistent flow of quality leads is what enables sales to propose and win enough deals to meet the company’s revenue goal. So although creating leads and proposing business are very closely related, they are still very different processes and skill sets.

The question you need to ask yourself if this, “Is lead generation a ‘core competency’ or not?” That term doesn’t seem to be thrown around quite as much these days but it really applies in this case. To be best-in-class in lead generation today requires a level of commitment, investment and scale that many companies have a hard time grasping. They want the outcomes so they throw money at what the vendors tell them are the right things to do. They buy marketing automation software, put up a blog and contract with a freelance writer. Someone installs Google Analytics on the website, runs some reports and hopes that’s all there is to Search Engine Optimization. Marketing creates a company Twitter profile and Facebook page and checks the box on social media. And yet, the leads never come.

If you’re big enough to afford the staff, willing to stick with it and ready to take on one of the steeper learning curves in business today, then there are ways to make all this technology and process come together to create a killer lead generation machine. If you’re not ready for that level of commitment then consider a ‘marketing as a service’ model that simply creates the leads for you. Neither approach is cheap, but when measured as a percentage of the total sales revenue goal it’s likely an investment you can quickly justify. For help with either approach OnTarget provides a service called LEAD READY.

As you enjoy the successes of 2012 and catch your breath on what has been a difficult year, carve out some time to work on your 2013 Sales Plan. When you do, pay particular attention to these three areas and you’ll be well positioned for great results in the coming year.

Would you like to talk about your unique sales challenges and goals? We’re glad to discuss them with you, just schedule a SALES READY consultation.