In my previous article, I talked about why you must embrace your inner sales geek. Now, let’s talk about what happens next after you start working skillfully with the numbers that rule your sales pipeline
Here are three case studies to illustrate what you should be doing and how you should be analyzing your numbers for sales growth
The pipeline that told the real story
In the first example, a client of mine in the shipping industry was eager to boost lagging sales in one division. They believed what was holding them back was that they had a closing problem: plenty of deals proposed, but not enough of them being finalized and signed. However, once we began analyzing their pipeline data, the real story emerged. Sales weren’t growing because they weren’t talking to enough new prospects. Their prospecting funnel was impossibly narrow with fewer opportunities qualified than was needed to hit their targets—even if 100% were closed! Once they addressed that—getting their sales team to actually engage their customers methodically and more often—sales skyrocketed. After sending sellers out on more sales calls, one manager exclaimed to me: “Colleen, it’s such an incredible thing—the more people we see, the more business comes in.” She would not have grown the business by seeing the same number of people as before, but trying to close more of them
Tackling churn with facts
In our second example, a software company was experiencing slow growth rate in sales. Initially, they too thought they had a closing problem. But once we began looking carefully at the pipeline data, it became clear that they had a customer retention problem. Industry average was 72% retention: theirs was 68%! The numbers showed they were not growing because they were losing 42% of their customers each year. Once they realized this alarming fact, processes were put in place to keep more customers. Over the next 12 months, their retention rate grew to 78% and sales growth accelerated.
Leaping without looking
In our third and final example, a resources company had assumed that their disappointing sales numbers were being caused by having too few prospects. Without first consulting their sales data, they implemented an aggressive prospecting campaign. That made a bad problem even worse! Now, their prospecting pipeline was overflowing with bad leads (because most had been hastily added just to meet targets that they didn’t even need in the first place. And they still weren’t hitting their targets! A careful review of their pipeline data showed they in fact had a closing problem: not a lead-generation problem. Their customers just didn’t see how they were differentiated from competitors and closing rates hovered around 10%. Once they discovered the real problem, they were able to create the proper tools to fully tackle the problem that they really had. Equipped with a series of differentiating value statements, ROI generators and case studies, they flooded the market with proof of how their products exceeded the performance of competitors. The sales team’s numbers improved dramatically.
These three examples show you that amazing things happen when you activate that inner sales geek and start working with your sales numbers. It’s vital to your success.
You will not fully solve any sales problems in your organization unless you start by getting facts working for you rather than assumptions. Get this right, on the other hand, and you’ll become the sales geek hero of your team.