Alan Timothy, managing director of Middlesbrough-based marketing tool i-snapshot and Profile Analysis, examines how sales leaders can get back on target with their year-end results…
For sales leaders, there’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you are behind your monthly targets and may miss the full year target. Especially at mid-year. With more of the year behind than ahead, the pressure is on for those that are set to underperform revenue objectives.
Your boss will want to know how you will get back on target. Your team is part of the problem, but also the key to a potential solution if you work with them.
Applying more pressure on top performers won’t generate sustainable results. In their opinion, they already pull in most of the business, so why should they work even harder, or can they work any harder? There might be a short-term burst of activity, a few more deals might come through the pipeline, but motivation and effort are finite resources. Putting too much pressure on rainmakers could encourage them to move elsewhere for less hassle and more money.
Finding a solution to this problem usually, involves a trade-off between two tried and tested courses of action.
Option 1: Ask your boss for additional resources. Option 2: Get more from your team, without asking for extra budget or putting more pressure on top performers. At face value, neither carries a high probability of success. Both are difficult, particularly the first since senior managers won’t be inclined to pour extra resources in when targets are being missed.
Reduced revenue and lower order values put everything at risk. No one gets halfway through the year without realising they are off target. Warning signs appear earlier on, but now is the time when it can hit home. You need to do something, quickly, to demonstrate you can recover and hit target. There is a solution.
You have limited time and the same resources as yesterday. Top performers will achieve more if they can see they aren’t carrying the whole team. Focus your team’s time and resources on the right targets, to generate more revenue quicker. Here is how you do this.
#1: Create a Customer / Prospect Priority Scorecard
Collect and score data on the following factors:
• Total potential client value and your share
• Potential short term order value (£)
• Profit margin (%)
• Timescale until a deal is closed (weeks, months?)
• Other business costs and resources involved (post-sales support, billing time, legal, customer service delivery: Weeks, months?)
• Are they a previous client? Have we made a good impression? What is our reputation with this customer/prospect?
• What input/commitment has the client made to the deal so far or are they passive
• What are our chances of closing this deal? (Factor in prior encounters and potential competition)
Ensure sales staff with a close knowledge and relationship with the customers are filling in this information. But make sure they are doing this objectively. They might be hopeful that they will close a deal; however, right now, with time running out, realism is essential, so that resources are deployed effectively.
#2: Score this data
Put in figures as required, and then under the raw data, score everything between 1 and 5, with 5 a high probability and 1 very unlikely. This will give you a simple top-level view of the value, timescales and probability associated with every potential deal.
There is more that can be done with this data, but right now, with the clock ticking, your team need to be on the road, picking up the phone, taking meetings and closing deals.
#3: Keep your team focused
It is easy to get distracted, especially if easier, smaller deals come through the door. More established brands and teams can grab low hanging fruit without making too much effort. However, you have to stop and consider whether these smaller deals are going to ensure you hit target? Or will they only serve to distract and take time away from higher yield prospects?
In this situation, making the numbers known to everyone helps improve performance. Ensure everyone knows the deal values on the table, show who’s pulling in the sales, how much revenue they’re worth, how many calls and meeting people are doing — thereby motivating those in the middle and bottom of the table to make more effort.
Luck will always play a role in sales. But luck doesn’t mean much without sustained effort, day in day out. Picking up a phone, sending emails and taking meetings, from first contact to closing, is the only way to bring new revenue into any company. As a sales leader, you should know how hard (or not) your team is working, which is one way i-snapshot provides the data you need to make decisions about how to manage and motivate them to achieve this year’s revenue targets.
With this information, you can ensure they’re focusing on the right targets, rather than just taking every meeting that comes along and hoping for a positive outcome.
Managing director, i-snapshot