Three Basic Steps to Help Improve the Sales Funnel in 2016
As we approach the middle of the selling year and consider reading articles and joining webinars that promise to help us “improve sales” and “increase productivity,” I find myself asking this question: Will this really help me improve my sales numbers? Well, not necessarily. However, in my experience, shared knowledge is helpful, and any information that helps us focus our efforts on what really matters can be beneficial—if we put the information into practice.
The other day, I was having a discussion with another sales professional about his sales numbers. The question he asked—and one that anyone who’s been in sales for longer than a minute has entertained—was, “How do I curtail a slump that seems to be drying up opportunities in my sales funnel?” I told him there’s no magic formula to finding new business, but that getting back to fundamentals is a tried-and-true practice to pull out of any sales slump.
At BKD Technologies, we represent a system in Microsoft Dynamics CRM that helps sales organizations do just that by giving sales professionals the opportunity to plan, execute and follow through with the sales process fundamentals.
Let’s face it, even professional baseball players who experience slumps are encouraged to get back to the basics—the fundamentals of the game. Batters will focus on their stance and addressing the ball to “meet the bat” out front. These are the same principles we teach little league hitters learning the game.
So I thought it would be important to demonstrate—using Microsoft Dynamics CRM—how to get back to the basics of selling and following the sales process through the cycle.
- Plan and Make the Call – In Dynamics CRM, there are a number of ways to plan and execute on potential business. Microsoft has made it simple for sales professionals to set up their day and follow a process that helps find and qualify the prospect.
- Leads – Start with the leads. Leads give us the opportunity to focus on intelligently targeting prospects who should be in a spot to buy your product or services. Sales organizations understand prospects aren’t looking to be “sold.” The easiest sale is one where you position yourself in front of the “buyers” as you systematically work down a leads list. Where leads come from or how they’re assigned can be different in every organization. Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and collaboration with the organization’s marketing department is a big help in this area.
- Tracking Information – During the sales process, we hear a number of qualifiers from potential buyers. The prospect may say, “Why don’t you call back in two weeks or two months?” Fundamentally, it’s important to commit to the follow-up and meet the expectations. With activities and tasks—and even tracking key emails and appointments using the Microsoft Outlook connector—we have the opportunity to develop a predictable delivery. We can demonstrate to the prospect that when we make a promise, we keep it. Again, fundamentally, this is a key component in a successful sales practice.
- Properly Qualify – A mentor of mine was famous for telling me, “Time suckers do nothing but suck the life out of your practice!” Leads that aren’t in the buying cycle aren’t bad contacts, but they can be a big waste of your time as a sales professional. That’s why the process bar in Dynamics CRM allows us to focus on the buyers and nurture those who may not quite be there yet. It also prevents us from prematurely qualifying a prospect who isn’t ready to buy.
- Develop the Relationship – The sales profession is a relationship profession. Each organization has a cycle in the life of a sale that can be predictable. After we’ve qualified the prospect, we need to develop the relationship toward a successful end.
- Opportunity – In Dynamics CRM, fortunately, you’re protected from the nonbuyers during the lead phase and have the opportunity to develop the buyer during the opportunity stage. At this stage, your system will populate the contact list by activating the “Account” and assigning the account a “Key Contact.” Now the sales professional has a company he or she can develop and a stakeholder who can assist in the purchase of the product or services.
- Follow-Through – Now that we have the account and contact, the commitments we make can flow through a logical process toward the close by engaging other team members and accessing supporting materials and price lists that will keep us on the right track toward close.
- Deliver on the Promises – We all know sales representatives who make weak promises they don’t keep. This type of person has given the profession a bad name for years. That’s why when we make a promise, as the old saying goes, “Our word is our bond.” We need to keep and deliver on our promises. Organizations that use Dynamics CRM have the unique opportunity to back up the sales professionals who make those promises. Documentation and process workflows built into the CRM are invaluable to the winning organization. Examples of automated workflows built into the CRM are (not a complete list):
- Sending automated emails to team members to prepare the order
- Assigning follow-up tasks for shipping to call client for shipping instructions
- Automatically sending invoices and key accounting information to accounting for onboarding
- Automatically sending surveys to clients for feedback
This allows the organization as a whole to be a part of the delivery team that wows the client.
Remember, the successful sales organization understands these fundamentals of sales success:
- Make the call
- Develop a reliable relationship
- Deliver high-quality products and services
We understand that price has a role to play in the life of a sale, but the winning organization is one staffed with winning sales professionals who employ a CRM system based on the sales process fundamentals.
by BDK Technologies