48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect, 25% make the second contact and stop, only 12% of sales people make more than 3 contacts. 80% of sales are made of the 5th to 12th contact.
I’m trying to get my sales force into shape. One of my people is not a tigress at prospecting; another will call on existing contacts and referrals, but if I send him to a networking event, he might leave without picking up any contacts or business cards. We need qualified leads and it’s taking too much time, trial and error to learn how to get them.
Thoughts of the Day: Make it clear what’s expected. Build a complimentary team. Make sure marketing is doing its part to deliver opportunity. Review results and get people into the right jobs.
Lay out expectations from day one. With existing personnel assigned to sales, go over the basics. Develop a weekly report that people have to complete and talk about.
We use an excel spreadsheet, with rows for the activities expected, and columns for the weeks. Rows include networking, cold calling, sales class, intro letters sent, intro calls made, weekly sales lead group, referral meetings, trade shows. We have 2 rows for each: the first row is to check off if they did the activity. The second row is to record contacts uncovered through those activities. The bottom of the report is where they recap the number of leads identified, qualified, moved into the sales process, and closed.
We show this report to prospective sales people. Existing sales people review it weekly in our staff meetings. Making it clear what’s expected, and that activity, or lack of activity will be visible, helps people who want to be in sales know this is a serious opportunity.
Try to get a mix of people, and get them working together. Include people in operations, who will be talking to customers all the time. On the team you want some people who are good at opening doors, effective networkers: picking up contacts and information about where work is likely to come from. Others on the team should be good at follow up and closing. Consider putting someone from the back office on the job of keeping track of a database of prospects, and review progress weekly.
Check on the number of leads that the company produces for the sales people to follow up on. If it’s very limited, put some more dollars into marketing. The most expensive part of sales is usually door opening. Try to reduce the cost of making new contacts by investing in programs that will identify warm prospects. Letter and mail campaigns, outside vendors assigned to make calls, booths at trade shows, etc. are all ways to get warm leads for the sales people to work on.
Take a look at the spreadsheet after it’s been in use for a couple months. Look at who has been effective at various activities. Make sure you have people assigned to work in the right part of the sales funnel. Someone who’s always going to networking events but never identifying leads either needs training, or needs to spend time doing something more productive. Someone with a lot of leads and very few closes may also need training, or may benefit from being teamed up with a closer to learn how to make things happen more quickly.
Keep in mind that everyone seems to run through hot and cold spells. If someone has low results for a couple of weeks, don’t panic. Take time to talk about what’s going on, and see if there’s some other activity that can be added to the mix that will lead to more results. Give it another couple weeks to take hold. If a drop in results persists, check to see if it’s a warning sign about the viability of the market the person is calling on. Or, is this person just souring on sales altogether, in which case it may time to make a change.
You job as manager is to step back from the action and keep an overview of what’s going on. Move people around. Push up on marketing efforts. Make sure that new activity is flowing steadily through the pipeline. Learn to read the reports to see what’s going on.
Looking for a good book? Talk Less, Say More: Three Habits to Influence Others and Make Things Happen, by Connie Dieken
PDF Version:Ask Andi – Build a Tip-Top Sales Team