Creating a Client Scorecard

rAe9xrlgWe have been working with a lot of our middle market clients lately on implementing or refining scorecards for sales or sales leadership roles.  The power of a well-crafted, clearly defined job scorecard is it takes all the guess work and ambiguity out of a position.  This is the job, this is how you'll be measured, these are your priorities, here are the resources you can leverage to be successful in your position.  If you're not using scorecards for your sales team contact us at info@intelligentconversations.com and we'll send you a sample.

All this work on creating job scorecards got me thinking - what would happen if your sales team knew exactly what you were looking for when acquiring a client?  Would your salespeople benefit from the same focus and clarity created by a clearly defined scorecard?  What would happen if your sales managers applied the scorecard concept to map out your ideal client? In our experience, too many sales teams use an “anything for a buck” sales strategy; they'll sell anything to anyone and move on. In the short term this approach will drive revenue, but remember, not all revenue is created equally. The more specific you can get about really keeping your team focused on your your dream client, the better the results will be.

Take a look at your current client base. Where are you making the most money? Who are the clients that are easy to work with? Write down your top five or six clients and what they have in common. What industry are they in? How big are they? How did the conversation with them start? What was your entry point? What's the strategic value of that client? Are they a name brand that give you instant credibility? Do they push your firm to be better?

Some clients can be a real pain in the neck. Some clients are awesome. You may have both in your portfolio, but who do you prefer? Are the pain-in-the-neck clients paying a premium? Is it enough?  Do they see the value in everything you provide? Or do they nickel and dime you and negotiate every transaction? What's their potential for making quality referrals? Can they influence you and improve your standing in the market? Are they paying you on time or do they have long payment terms? These are just some of the filters to think through.

 When you take the time to look at your ideal clients that are already in your portfolio and map out what you like about them, how you got them, and describe them in as much detail as you can, you can create a client scorecard that will help your salespeople focus on who they should be talking to, what they should be selling, and how they should be selling.

Without that focus, they'll continue with the “anything for a buck” strategy and you'll find yourself wasting important delivery cycles or production cycles trying to fill orders that really don't make sense to the overall strategic direction of your company. So get focused, develop a client scorecard, and teach your salespeople which clients to quickly disqualify because they don't meet your ideal client criteria and move on to those that do. 

Building a Profitable Sales Process - Qualify the Opportunity

Qualification, Sales Process, Close more business, hope is not a strategy, wishful thinking, sales people, sales manager, pipeline, building a profitable sales process, quote and hope, sales effectiveness, sales coaching, Mike Carroll, Intelligent Conversations, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sales consultant, Objective Management GroupHere's a radical idea - let's have your sales team qualify opportunities before you prepare a quote!  Too many sales organizations seem to use a "quote and hope" strategy that rarely drives consistent revenue growth.

Continuing our series on Building a Profitable Sales Process, this post will cover step 8 - qualifying the opportunity.

 

 
  

 

If you asked your sales people and sales managers what's the most important area to explore in the qualification process you'll probably hear "budget".  And that's good, profitable business begins by working with customers who can afford your product or service.  But there is much more to the qualification process than just finding out if they can afford to pay you.

Here are eight (8) questions to have your sales managers ask when coaching your sales people to review opportunities at the "qualification" stage of your sales process:

  1. Have we uncovered all of the issues and do we fully understand the impact our product or service will have on the prospect's situation?
     
  2. Does the prospect agree with all the issues we have identified and do they have urgency to make a change?
     
  3. Have we discussed the investment required to implement our solution or purchase our product and does the prospect understand the value this investment will create?
     
  4. Do we understand the prospect's timeline for when they need our product or solution and do we have the capacity to take on this work within the timeline the prospect requires?
     
  5. Do we understand the prospect's decision process, know all of the stakeholders involved, and have a strategy to leverage our advocates and covert (or at least neautralize) our detractors?
     
  6. Have we asked enough questions about the competitive context in which the prospect is making this decision?  Do we know the advantages our solution provides and how these advantages fit into and align with their buying criteria?
     
  7. Do we have all of the technical information we need to produce an accurate quote?  Has the prospect provided contact information for any technical people on their side (engineers, quality control, etc.) we may need to contact with clarifying questions as we prepare our quote?
     
  8. Have we clearly defined what happens when the prospect receives our quote?  Has the prospect agreed to make a decision?  Have we set up a meeting to review the quote and go over any questions?
And of course there may be more questions your sales manager should add that are specific to your business.  What would happen if your sales managers regularly asked these types of questions of your sales people?
Would the quality of your quotes and estimates go up?  Would the total number of quotes sent out go down?  Would your sales people win more deals?  
  
Free analysis report - download it here
Too many companies use a "quote and hope" strategy where their sales people use the quoting process as a means to have the discovery conversation they should have had earlier in the sales process.
  
Too many sales people waste valuable company resources preparing unqualified quotes. And too many sales people (and sales managers) mistake "being busy" with "being productive."   
What would happen to your sales results if your team consistently took a more disciplined approach to the qualification stage of your sales process? 
 

Free analysis report
Does your sales team have the skills and strengths to effectively qualify the opportunities in your sales funnel? What challenges and weaknesses get in their way?  Who on your team is capable of selling at a higher margin?  Who can you save and who should you consider replacing or putting into a different role within your organization?

If you're not sure how to answer these questions, ask us for a free overview of our newest tool - the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis™ - and we will follow up with you to find out if it makes sense to talk about helping your sales organization become more effective.

10 Steps to Building a Profitable Sales Process

Sales process flow chartNearly every CEO we meet with struggles when we ask "Tell us about your sales process."  If you have not defined a clear sales process for your team to follow, how can you expect consistent sales results and revenue growth?  
 
Here are ten (10) steps you should take to build a profitable sales process for your company. Over the coming weeks we will write a series of articles providing more detail and guideance for each of these.
 

  1. Know Your Target - Who is your ideal customer?  
    Describe them (annual revenue, number of employees, industry veritical, geographical proximity, stage in business life cycle, etc.).

    - Which of your current customers drive the most revenue?
    - Which drive the most profit?
    - Are their more prospective clients like them?
    - Which customers are capable of building a long-term relationship with the opportunity for repeatable revenue?
    - Which are likely to be one-time transactions (or once every x years) and is that transaction profitable?
    - Where does your conversation typically start at these companies?
    - What is the title of the person with whom you would like your sales people to start the conversation?
    - What is their area of responsibility (which is not always reflected in their title)?
    - If you can't get traction with that person, what's the next best place to start a conversation?
    - What's the typcial title of that person and what is their functional area of responsibility?  

    Advice: for more clarity on who to target, read Bob Bloom's Inside Advantage.

     
  2. Build Lists 
    Once you understand your "who" everyone on your sales team should build a list of X number of primary targets.  X will depend on the size of your prospect universe, the level of complexity in making a sale, the length of your sales cycle, the level of activity each sales person can manage, the level of activity required to meet your revenue goals, where the sales person is in terms of their development, your sales model (do your sales people stay involved after the sale or do they sell and move on), the size of their book of business, and many other factors.
      
    "Whatever the right number of active targets is for your company, focusing each sales person on a clearly defined list that they proactively manage helps prevent "Easter Egg Hunting" and reactive undisciplined selling.

     
  3. Know Your Customers 
    - How well do your sales people understand what is truly important to your customers?
    - Do your sales people know the factors your customers considered when making the decision to purchase from your company?
    - Can your sales people clearly articulate the impact your product or service is having on your client?
     
    Typically this comes down to saving money, time or both.  It may also impact quality....or their ability to get to market with a new product faster....or their ability to stay in compliance with a law or regulation....or any number of factors.
     
    Whatever the case may be for your company, it's absolutely critical for your sales people to be able to articulate this in a few crisp phrases that a prospective customer will immediate understand and respond to.

     
  4. Start Making Contact 
    - How much time does your sales team truly spend on business development?
    - Do you track initial conversations?
    - How many attempts do they make every day?
     
    Once your sales team has a clear understanding of who you are targeting, can they crisply articulate what's important to your prospective customers? Does each sales person have a clear list of companies to contact?  If so, it's time to get to work. There's no easy way around this!
     
    Your sales people need to make contact and start learning about about your prospective clients and whether or not there is a problem worth setting up a meeting to explore.

     
  5. Initial Appointments 
    If you follow the first four steps you should start seeing more appointments and better qualified appointments. Pay attention to the reasons prospective clients agree to a meeting or a demo - what problems is your sales team finding when they make initial contact?
     
    Also monitor how many appointments are being set and whether or not this number will support your sales goals.  It's ok if they book appointments from prospects that are not on their list of top X prospects (from referrals or in-bound leads or whatever) as long as each sales person continues to faithfully work their list.
      
    Every sale starts with a conversation and busy, productive sales people consistently start new conversations (appointments) every week.

     
  6. Explore All Areas 
    Know the issues that engage prospects to want to set up an initial appointment is a great start, but once your sales people are on that appointment they need to explore all the issues.
    - Can your sales managers articulate and coach to all the areas to explore?
    - Have they developed "question funnels" that will help your sales team explore these areas?
    - Do certain sales people just stick to what they know or what they are comfortable with rather than exploring all the possible issues and pain points a prospective customer may be experiencing?
     
    The better your sales team gets at asking questions that help prospective customers think of their problems differently, the better your sales result will be.

     
  7. Urgency to Change 
    Whether it happens in one meeting or a series of meetings, the questions your sales people ask when following a disciplined sales process should create urgency for the prospective customer to make a change.  To start doing something (hopefully with you).  To stop doing something (hopefully internally or with your competitor).  Do your sales people create enough urgency when meeting with prospects?  
     
    Without this urgency to act, your proposals will just languish and be forgotten.

     
  8. Qualification Process 
    Many of the sales people we coach skip through the qualification process and miss key steps and considerations.  Just because the prospective customer has a problem you can solve and has the budget to solve it doesn't mean they are qualified.
    - How well do your sales people do when it comes to understanding the client's decision process?
    - Their decision criteria?
    - Their timeline?
    - Their willingness to leave their current vendor?
    - The impact your solution will have on other departments?
    - The impact the sale will have on your operation and your ability to deliver what the client is asking for?  
     
    A disciplined sales process saves you time and money by making sure you're only drafting proposals for well-qualified opportunities.

     
  9. Asking for the Business 
    If your sales people have the right kind of conversation throughout the sales process the "close" should be a natural next step.  It shouldn't be a big deal that requires a lot of drama or theatrical closing techniques. 
     
    If your sales people built the case to change, created urgency for the propsective client to act, and have taken the time to understand and address all of the qualification issues, the closing question should simply come down to "Would you like us to help you with this issue?" or something along those lines.

     
  10. Transition to Delivery 
    I can't tell you how many times we've seen a success sale get fumbled and lost due to a poor hand off.  What can your sales people do to ensure a smooth transition from the sales conversation to the delivery conversation?  Simple steps such as having your sales person ask for the contact information for a technical person at the customer can save a lot of time and frustration when someone in your operation has a question.
      
    What are the typical stumbling blocks you hit when bringing on a new customer or starting a new project?  What can your sales people do to help you avoid them?

 
Over the next month we are writing a series of articles going a little deeper into these areas so you can begin to implement a more disciplined sales process at your company.  If you would like help mapping out your sales process, we would be happy to meet for a cup of coffee to talk about what we can do to help your sales organization get there faster.
 
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