The Sale That Never Was
Pity the poor salesperson. Here are just a few of the things they encounter in their working lives: punishing working environments, unrealistic performance expectations, and little to no empathy from company owners. When they are not being told no from harried prospects on an ongoing basis, they are often being expected to do more and more with less support than ever. In many ways it sure isn’t easy being a salesperson today.
Even worse, today’s complex selling environment often overwhelms salespeople, sales managers, and manufacturing CEOs alike. It can often be difficult to find the root cause for substandard sales performance. This can make things even more frustrating.
So if your salesperson is struggling to meet their quota what should you check first?
Frankly, when looking for the cause of poor sales results it can be easy to arrive at the wrong conclusion. The first thing you need to do is to pass on the usual suspects. The obvious areas of concern are: not enough activity, poor general selling skills, substandard presentation skills, and lack of closing ability. Now while all of these areas are worthy of investigation, you need to check a less obvious area first.
This less obvious area to investigate is at the top of your sales funnel. Many manufacturing companies (and their marketing staff and salespeople) mishandle the qualification process and clog their sales pipeline with unqualified suspects who will never buy.
So what appears to be a closing problem is actually a qualification problem. After all, you cannot close someone who is not qualified to buy.
The solution to this problem is an easy one.
The first thing you need to do is to get agreement from both marketing and sales on how you will define a sales-ready lead. This is normally done by getting answers to budget, authority, need, and timeline questions.
You next need to be certain that these qualification questions are being used on a consistent basis by your marketing and sales staff. This will prevent your salespeople from wasting time on selling opportunities that are actually not opportunities at all.
Lastly, your salespeople should not engage in the selling process until they are absolutely certain they are dealing with a properly qualified opportunity.
One of the best ways to reduce your selling expense and improve the results of your salespeople is to be certain they are not pursuing the sale that never was.