While many businesses make efforts to improve production, distribution, and various administrative work processes, it is less common to find organizations focused on applying the basic principles of continuous improvement in the sales process.
However, our research and experience suggest that the sales process is more complex than many people understand. Furthermore, we have consistently found that the largest waste in most commercial and industrial organizations loses gross margins resulting in unsold sales, due to excessive costs in sub-optimal pricing and sales-related processes.
So, aside from the “sales skills” or “charisma” associated with those known as the most successful vendors, there are some proven best practices to increase field-day efficiency when you consider the daily activities required for field-based or outside sales professionals. Can help, including the following five:
- Pre-call planning: By planning each sales call in advance, in writing, sales people can position themselves to accomplish more in less time, thus increasing individual productivity as well as accelerating overall cycle-time. Running a more comprehensive sales call will not only increase efficiency, but the habit will also have a stronger, more positive impact on customers. Many people who have accepted this best-practice report acknowledge that their customers recognize the difference and, over time, become more willing to schedule meetings or sales calls, thus enabling them to make more calls each day more easily, which is an important part of the job. . In the next bullet.
- Set a daily call volume goal. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but a surprising number of sellers are unable to measure the actual average number of sales calls they make each day. As author Jack Falvey puts it, “Want more sales? Call more.” By setting individual goals, which will vary depending on the nature of each region, sellers are often able to more effectively self-motivate and make more calls per day.
- Geographical plan: By creating a strategic geography or travel plan for each day, people outside of sales can reduce drive time and optimize “face” time. The best plans will start by creating a regional quadrant and then mapping out customer locations and key prospects. It is a rule to avoid traveling beyond two-quarters of a day, so when an appointment is scheduled in one area, try to schedule meetings or plan to visit others in the same general area to enable maximum interactions. The least time.
- Book every day Deciding early morning and another late afternoon. This will encourage them to “stay on course” against the decision to return to the office early to do administrative work. This best practice can also help achieve item # 2 above.
- Try to schedule the next steps (i.e., follow-up meetings, conference calls, etc.) “on the spot”. Before the conclusion of each sales call. This simple best practice can significantly increase efficiency for two reasons. First, it helps sales people make their calendars more easily for future sales days in the field; And second, it can shorten the sales cycle by securing time with buyers sooner than otherwise.
But the sales process extends well beyond the field one day, e.g.
Includes everything from identifying leads to delivering solutions.
Given this broad spectrum, it’s not really surprising that the largest waste can be found in the sales area in most businesses.
The first step toward improvement – that is, “moving from where we are to where we want to be if everything is OK” – is to identify specific areas of waste in the sales process, and a good way to get started is to respond. The following 20 questions:
- What is our current market share?
- What are the needs of our customers?
- How well are we meeting these needs?
- What will it take to really delight our customers?
- How long does the sales process from lead to sale take?
- What is our lead conversion ratio?
- What were the top 3 reasons for losing sales in the previous quarter?
- What is the average number of calls our sales people make each day?
- How much time do we spend talking to uninterested or inappropriate leads?
- How can we continually improve the skills and habits of our sales team?
- What percentage of devotees contact us first?
- How does this percentage (# 11) compare to industry data?
- Does the sales process for inbound leads take less time to complete? If so, how much less?
- What is our response time for customer or potential inquiries?
- How many customer complaints do we get?
- How much time do our sales people spend mediating or responding to complaints?
- What is done with the information associated with customer complaints?
- How do customer complaints or customer dissatisfaction affect our ability to sell?
- How often is the discount extended and what is the average discount?
- Is the discount given due to competition or in response to dissatisfaction?
Clearly there are many ways to analyze an organization’s sales process and improve productivity, but these five best practices and twenty questions are good starting points.