Small and medium-sized businesses are often unsure how to diagnose their sales results whether performance is poor or they need to scale. Sales leaders in these companies might see a few pain points, yet are unable to understand how some issues are connected. Asking the following questions will help put the pieces together and provide a fuller picture with which to make these key decisions.
#1. What is my current state?
Take a healthcare practitioner approach here. Just like going to the doctor, what do your vital signs say across your key sales and business metrics? What does the revenue distribution across your customer base look like? What should it look like? Do you have too much revenue with too few clients? How effective were you with those new customer and new production campaigns? The market and our customers are always changing as is your business’ position in it – you need to know where you stand in order to decide how and where to make changes going forward, relative to how your buyers are behaving. Start your “health check” now. Using an assessment tool (found here) can streamline this process. Now you’re ready to dive deeper into the sales performance questions. Each of these questions are linked together. Sales performance is dependent on aligning on all four.
#2. What is the selling effort I need to address my target market?
Many small business owners really struggle on how and when to hire additional sales resources. The answer is to analyze overall selling time and effort needed to cover customers and prospects adequately. For example, if your company is primarily new customer focused, you can create measurable targets such as: “Make at least one sales call on 50% of the addressable market for ABC service every 90 days after launch.” Thus, percentage of ABC service prospects contacted per quarter is the key number to track and measure against.
#3. What is the capability I need from my sellers?
Put simply, to be effective in the role, what are the skills, knowledge, and behaviors required? Depending on the specific role, there are dozens of metrics you could look such as close rates, sales per call, or percentage of deals sold at discount. For new product introductions, there could be a product comprehension score to pass. Move beyond just product and services skill/knowledge and be sure to measure effectiveness in closing deals, advancing the pipeline, and pricing negotiations.
#4. What is my customer type focus?
Sales leaders need to segment the selling effort around their ideal customer profile (ICP). Yet, is sales growth from existing or new customers the true focus for various seller roles? What about customer retention rates? Being specific regarding customer characteristics such as size, industry, and location can help the sales team focus.
#5. What is my product or service focus?
At this point, your sales team is of the right size to cover the market; capable with the correct skills, knowledge, and behaviors; and focused on your ideal customers. Now, what product or services do you want them to focus on? Do you want them focused on the tried-and-true offerings or the new solutions that you need to pivot to? Leveraging data from the first question you answered (your “current state assessment”) such as sales by product, and developing new metrics such as percent sales by new products can be very helpful. Beyond product type, consider product size and volume as options, based on your overall goals for a healthy product portfolio.
- Assess your current state of sales to craft the right strategy and plan going forward
- Understand the overall sales effort required to engage your customers and prospects.
- Detail the sales capabilities your team needs to be effective in closing business and moving the pipeline.
- Direct the sales team to grow and retain the right customers.
- Direct the sales team to sell the right products and services.
Gathering this vital data by answering the five questions above will ensure that you have all the pieces needed to construct a true picture of where your sales team is currently, as well as where it needs to go. Focusing in and seeing the connection in your answers will give you the tools necessary to improve sales performance and maximize revenue.
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