Lack of sales process is poisoning the well

Guest Blog | Ben Bradley

According to the 2010 Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices Study, less than 20% of respondents said they use a prospecting plan. Yet, roughly 75% of top-performing sales organizations said they are consistent in this activity. Where’s the disconnect?

At some point, as your sales organization grows, you’ll find it more cost-effective to insert specialists into the process rather than ask your closers to manage the entire process. To triple sales – instead of tripling the size of the sales organization – the smart money looks for ways to triple the effectiveness of the best closers.

So how do sales execs approach this? What is the fastest way to break away from old habits and build new, scalable, repeatable and affordable processes to create new sales opportunities for your best closers?

  • The first task is the task of definition: Ignore the marketing purists who believe sales and marketing are different. As you think about taking the next step in the evolution of your sales organization – and you try to stretch a very limited budget – the job of marketing is to create new opportunities for sales.
  • Lead generation must become a core competency: Cold calling, trade shows, advertising and other big marketing tactics still work for lead generation. However, the time is not far away when a consistent program of long-tail content, SEO and word of mouth marketing will become your primary source of leads.  The time is now to start understanding this reality and begin preparing your organization for the inevitable.
  • Simple data matters: In b-to-b sales it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that you can’t sell something to someone unless you know their e-mail, title, mailing address, company affiliation and phone number. In other words, you can’t sell something to someone unless you know who they are. Keeping the data clean and cultivating the contact data until the prospective customer is ready to have a conversation matters more than most think.  If you love your data, your data will love you back.
  • How many net new names did you add to the CRM each month: Don’t be content with your existing database. Every month there should a concerted effort to bring new names into CRM.  Even if you have a huge flow of inbound leads into your Web site each month, the acquisition of new names ensures your marketing remains proactive as you hunt for new key accounts.

The type of person who is comfortable cleaning data and is happy being the guardian of data is very different from the type of person happiest in front of customers. It may be the best qualified person for this role is not a sales person at all – but rather a specialist who appreciates the tools and techniques of marketing and selling.

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 Ben Bradley is managing director of Macon Raine, a management consulting, marketing, and lead generation company. He can be reached at ben@maconraine.com