If you are missing on sales-forecasts regularly and finding it challenging to gauge the real reasons, maybe your sales processes have not changed with time. It is a constant challenge with the sales and business leaders to keep up with the targets set in the Annual Planning meet and it eventually becomes a moving goalpost. Here are some critical factors on how business leaders can better predict business outcomes.
1. Upgrade selling techniques
Very few old-school selling techniques still work today. Most need to deletion immediately. If you’re still making your salespeople cold call leads or go door to door for sales, this is no doubt you will see drop sales at your company. These types of selling techniques don’t work anymore. Sunset old selling techniques and welcome the new, which is based on customs digital decision journey. Customer preferences in B2B and B2C are moving towards digital channels for decision making. Evaluation is done using the comparison of websites, benchmark prices with online information, and customer reviews. Upgrade your selling channels through personalized content on web pages, email, digital ads, and choose appropriate social platforms for communication.
2. Adopt the right lead generation and nurturing tools
One of the most onerous and most expensive tasks is to find potential clients most efficiently. Every sales leader knows how hard it is to move to build awareness among the prospective clients, and move them to consideration and conversion. Invest in digital tools that integrate database management, marketing material, and channels of communication into one holistic unit rather than working as parts. Marketing and sales functions should work closely to generate high-quality leads. As per research, Companies with aligned sales and marketing generated 208% more revenue from marketing.
3. Invest in sales excellence (or in most cases, have one in the first place)
Most sales organisations claim to have implemented some form of sales excellence process. In a real sense, they are merely very basis sales stages that too unclear and ambiguously applied by each individual. For sales excellence to be effective, have simple to understand yet detailed definitions of each stage of a funnel, not subjected to the creative imagination of each individual and applied across the organisation with zero deviation. For better control over the outcome, the entire organisation should look at funnel and its stages in the same manner. As per the HBR report, 51% of high performing sales organizations had a formal, structured sales excellence process.
4. CRM to be the way of working
If you want data to the only source of truth when it comes to predicting sales forecasts, CRM should be the way of working. It should be used to record all the necessary information accurately to reach the desired outcome. For this to happen, convincing seasoned sales managers, who may initially be inclined to see them as intrusive, a threat to the exclusivity of personal relations, or time-consuming. Salespeople should see this as a tool that reduces their work, help them to make smart, well-informed decisions, and evolve winning strategies for each account.
5. Remove optimistic assumptions about seasonality and buying cycle.
In any sales planning process, often seasonality and delayed results are blamed for missing targets. How much time has been given to discuss and accurately access sales cycles to various industries? It also needs to factor in the realistic length of seasonality. Generally, the center of the debate is that past trends of seasonality and buying cycles have adjusted to various other factors, and market mix modeling are needed to make the right predictions.
6. Put best sales guys as farming and win back specialist.
Look at your churn rate, and if this one is not an integral part of your sales plan, you are probably missing out on a big opportunity and putting tremendous pressure on finding new clients. Selling to existing clients, even though they were disappointed with their previous purchase, the customer service, or any other reason – is still much cheaper than getting new ones. As per research, chances of success among lost clients are at about 20% higher. However, farming and win back always need a strategy that will make one return. It will take the courage and humility to ask the client why they left and you may be able to get your clients back. If for nothing else, it will undoubtedly be valuable information on the client’s expectations.
Apart from winning back lost customers, leveraging your loyal customers, and ask for referrals is a great way to build on your sales funnel.
7. Drop markups. Build a consultative, realistic, and firm plan:
Every sales leader, while making a plan, want the business to grow, and at the same time, don’t want to have the pressure of targets. So it’s understandable that markups and markdowns are built in various iterations of the plan, so much so that the original logic of strategy may not be relevant in the final outcome. Look at your sales plan again. Are you realistic? Speak to your front-line sales team. They are in the best position to tell the problem in meeting plan in the current scenario. Take their suggestions and buy-in about the targets that go into your sales plan.