Strong sales managers understand that it is absolutely critical to monitor sales reps, keeping an eye on who’s hitting their quotas. However this is only a small fraction of the complete sales management conversation.
The strength of a sales funnel is not merely a function of reps hitting their numbers in each quarter, but the product of a number of pre-revenue and post-sale variables that accompany each deal. For this reason, it’s critical to measure and optimize some of those variables throughout the sales process, allowing for revenue targets take care of themselves.
We’ll begin an understanding of what those metrics are. Even if your organization has adopted standard sales funnel management practices around win rates, average deal size and so on, it still takes time and experience to understand the additional data that should be captured and discussed. This may differ by organization or industry, but a robust CRM system will provide you with more actionable insights as data is gathered.
Sales Via Marketing Collateral
Sales reps tend to be people-oriented by nature. They like to talk, they like to listen, and they like to interact in real-time, 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 further consider, even sharing that information with other members of their team.
Marketing departments often spend a considerable portion of their budgets developing sales documents, buyer’s guides and other collateral materials that address this need, but these pieces are only effective if sales reps pass them along. In the next performance review, ask your sales reps:
- How many of your last five deals were assisted through the use of an e-book, white paper, blog post or other piece of marketing collateral?
- At what point in the sales cycle do you usually offer marketing materials?
- 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?
Getting specific about their use of marketing collateral will begin to nurture better habits over time, and better inform the creation of new content.
Sales Via Social Media
Social media dialogue is quickly becoming one of the most critical tools to building pipeline as buyers are increasingly more inclined to entertain a sales conversation over digital channels. Although it may take some time to properly train your team on how best to utilize social channels as a sales tool, some questions to consider are:
- How many decision makers in your target market have you connected with on LinkedIn 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 media that can help build a stronger picture of key client interests, buying behaviours or other data?
Treating social media with the same rigour as phone calls and email messages won’t happen instantaneously, but it is critical to understand that social platforms account for a large amount of sales activity.
Sales Demos to Decisions
Every stage of the sales cycle is important, but perhaps no window of opportunity is more critical than the timeframe after which the prospect has been given a comprehensive view of your products and services. This is typically where the toughest questions come out, where details around configurations and quotes are revised, and ultimately, where deals are most likely to fail.
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 sales rep) tends to be involved at this stage — departments such as marketing, customer service, or finance could potentially all have valuable roles to play.
Sales to Advocacy Ratios
The most successful companies aren’t simply satisfied by gaining customers, they want advocates. They want customers to be so happy that they’ll be prepared to share their positive experiences with peers.
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 or 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.
With content from our partners at Salesforce.