Ron Wille, CEO of two INC 5000 companies and newly launched One Down Consulting Group, a consulting firm focused on aligning technology, process and people to grow sales, recently sat down with Launch Team President Michele Nichols to discuss sales trends and tips for technology companies. Check out Ron and Michele’s 11 tips for improving sales in just 1 hour.
Part 2: Improving Sales Productivity in Technical Companies
Cancelled meeting? Lunch at your desk? A spare hour can make a huge difference if your organization has the proper foundation in place. The right sales and marketing tools can make your time spent on sales much more productive. If you have an hour, pick one of these actions to improve your sales.
- Status check: Understand the status of every sales opportunity in your pipeline. Is an opportunity waiting on you, or the prospect?
- Reality check: Get rid of the junk. Review your CRM, remove duplicate opportunities or contacts, and close out any deals that are not genuine. Your sales forecast is only as good as the accuracy of your information.
- Look at losses: For opportunities you closed out six months ago, a year ago, two years ago, pick two that are a good fit, and give them a call.
- Track them down: Customers you’ve already served well are a great sales opportunity. Look up former customers who’ve moved on to new companies or positions. Use LinkedIn InMail or pick up the phone to reconnect.
- Make a Hail Mary list: Who are your dream customers? The market leaders, the ones you ought to be working with. Make a short list, pick one to research, connect online, and call them.
- Fill the gaps: Sometimes the small jobs, if timed right, can drive up your profit margins. They fill the gaps, keep the machines running. Think of the small needs your existing customers have mentioned, and call and get these started.
- Refocus: Help your sales reps focus on the behaviors that will break through.
- Pick a mission: Look at industry news or economic drivers, even your own calendar. Headed to the West Coast for a meeting next month? Pull your prospects in that territory. A new grant opportunity for technologies in a specific industry? Start there. Lost a customer? Target their competitors. These short-term, highly focused efforts can yield great-fit sales opportunities.
- Flip it: Does your sales force typically divide their territories by industry? Try a geographic focus or contest. (First rep to win a deal in CA gets a cash incentive!)
- Declutter: Spend an hour cleaning out your CRM or your inbox. You’re bound to find a dropped lead or opportunity.
- Make your own list: Get organized, and set up a list in your CRM for the next free hour you have. A well-implemented CRM and a well-organized approach to sales will improve your productivity and better serve your customers.
A solid sales and marketing foundation is important to making any of these tactics a success. The modern, scalable company has in place:
- A clearly defined sales process, including specific lead follow-up behaviors
- A well-segmented database of prospects—by title, industry, company size, geography, etc.
- CRM set up in a way that matches your sales processes
- Marketing automation that supports a salesperson’s efforts
- Marketing journeys (or in HubSpot, workflows) that are specific to a prospect’s area of interest
- Measurability, down to cost per lead and close rate
With these in place, you will be able to identify the behaviors that drive success.
As the CEO in a growing organization, if you’ve hired and empowered a VP of Sales, product or program managers, and others with accountabilities for revenue growth, you may now face an unclear role in driving sales. What impact you can have on improving sales productivity and results in an hour?
It’s your responsibility as CEO to set the vision for the company, the brand promise to customers, measurable goals for your team, and clear accountabilities. Day to day, if your plan has measurable goals, you should be able monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and help the team to troubleshoot if the company is not hitting its numbers.
Implementing the foundation for a true sales and marketing engine is a major undertaking. So, where should you spend your hour? Each week, try one of the following:
- Spot opportunity. As the keeper of the vision, it’s often the CEO’s role to watch the horizon for market trends and emerging applications, and translate that to a plan for the company. Read a technical paper about an emerging application, look at market forecasts, and consider the implication to your industry and technology.
- Leverage your reputation. Ask your sales force how you could support their current opportunities. Would a call from the president help them break through a company they’ve been trying to penetrate? Would a blog post or article help support marketing’s efforts to establish thought leadership?
- Gauge your progress. Look over your dashboard of sales and marketing KPIs. Will you hit your goal? Where do qualified leads come from? Are leads closing at the rate you expect? If you don’t know, take a step back and start with our marketing KPI worksheet.
- Sit in on a customer meeting or prospect pitch. Not to guide, but to listen. What questions do customers ask? What do they value? Are your employees representing the values of the company and focusing on the customer’s needs instead of their own?
Read Part 1, where Ron and Michele discuss market outlook and trends.
Looking for more ways to increase your sales? Download our 12 Tips to Maximize Sales & Marketing Returns in Q4.