Many business owners struggle with sales. Perhaps you’re one of them?
Let’s face it, not all entrepreneurs realized when they started their business venture that selling would be such a critical skill for them to grow their business, agency, or practice. If you’ve recently encountered a sales slowdown, what should you do? Should you start posting or advertising on the en-vogue social media platform of the month? It’s safe to say that’s probably not going to be your long-term solution.
That being said, what are your options?
While many will likely steer you down one path or another (usually the social media and/or expensive advertising route) without really attempting to diagnose and understand the root cause of your current sales decline, I’d like to provide you with a time-tested 28 question framework to identify your sales process bottlenecks and substantially enhance your sales close rates.
Many of my small business clients come to me frustrated or stressed out over their sporadic lead flow and unsteady and even declining sales results. Sometimes these business challenges are connected. Sometimes they are not. For instance, some entrepreneurs are tremendous at finding leads, but they struggle to convert them into sales. Others are relatively great closers, but they lag behind on getting qualified leads into their pipeline.
To assess and elevate your sales performance, walk through the questionnaire below. I assure you this is not an exercise that will immediately conclude that your only option to succeed is to be an aggressive, in-your-face by the book sales closer. As you’ll soon see, this is quite the contrary. Moreover, this framework does not favor more new-school tech-savvy entrepreneurs that can easily create high-converting sales funnels. Nor was it created for old-school business owners who can sell with the best of ‘em in person, but are very hesitant to jump into the Digital Age. Rather, this approach is predicated on my internationally proven and proprietary Client Connect!™ formula, which is all about cultivating deeper relationships with your prospects, clients, and strategic partners and mastering and leveraging your financials so you can work less and make more!
Let’s dive in and commence the diagnostic to address your lackluster sales results based on your unique situation:
How many outbound dials/emails/messages/connections do you make every month? – Leads and customers are the lifeblood of your business. The lack of leads is a huge demoralizer for any business owner, especially the ones that are in their infant stages. After all, leads don’t just magically appear. You have to relentlessly take action every day to increase your lead flow and get your top prospects closer to becoming a client.
How many leads per month do you generate and what is the source? – Don’t merely count your lead flow. Also, be sure to rate the quality of each lead and track how they were obtained (e.g. website, landing page, social media site, referral, networking, cold call, etc.). Having these insights will allow you to maximize your time and effort on the outreach activities with the biggest ROI.
How many lead qualification and discovery calls per month do you book? – Unqualified leads are just that, unqualified. It’s important to know and understand your numbers on how long it typically takes to qualify a lead and convert it into a prospect.
How many demos, presentations, or proposals per month do you provide? – As your leads become interested prospects, how many of them received demos, presentations, and/or official bids, and how many went on to become paying clients?
How many sales per month do you close on average? – More importantly, based on the preceding questions, what lead generation activity is needed to win a client? Until you are in tune with this data, you will not have a reliable blueprint to create and forecast predictable, steady cash flow. Saying you want to make $10k, $20k, or $50k per month is not sufficient. You need to be aware of how many calls it takes to find a lead, and from there, how many more meetings and steps you need to go through in your sales funnel to eventually close the sale. Know your numbers!
Lead qualification and nurturing
Have you clearly defined your target market? – A rapid-fire, yet thought-provoking discovery process is a great way to effectively and efficiently qualify your leads. Remember, many markets are overlooked and underserved. The deeper and more narrow your niche the better. As much as you might not want to, particularly right after launching your startup, you have to be so crystal clear on your ideal target client that you are willing to disqualify and even walk away from some deals. Doing so will separate tire-kickers from serious prospects, reduce “no decisions”, and speed up your sales cycle.
Do you have distinct nurturing automated email drip campaigns in place? – It’s necessary to have separate campaigns consistently dripping on your new prospects, longer-term prospects, and existing clients.
Do you document and maintain an inventory of the most common sales objections that you receive? – This is one of the best exercises you can ever do as an entrepreneur, particularly when you are just starting out! Practice really does make perfect in this case. Put in the reps and simulate the objection handling conversation so you don’t sound robotic (and rehearsed). If you view objections as buying signals rather than frustrating, insurmountable boulders, you’ll find that you’ll welcome them, and, in turn, have more informed, productive discussions that lead to more sales. After all, that’s what you want, right?
Do you have a consistent sales conversion and follow-up playbook and do you quickly pivot to an efficient client onboarding process? – The best way to get off to a good start with your clientele is to immediately welcome them aboard and promptly explain and execute the next steps for them to receive and benefit from your product or be able to take advantage of your services and see the money they just invested begin paying off for them. Any delay in the onboarding process will result in the emergence of buyer’s remorse and lead to unnecessary client conflict and tension from the outset. Don’t let this happen to you! Once you win a deal, express your gratitude, over-communicate, and aggressively service their account so that they will not just be a customer but rather a client for life!
What do you do that very few or no one else is doing to make you stand out during the sales cycle? – For example, do you mail hand-written thank you notes or educational articles with personalized messages to your clients? Or do you record and send quick Loom or Dubb video messages to help you bond and connect more deeply with your prospects?
Sales opportunity pipeline tracking and analytics
Do you diligently track and analyze your sales opportunity pipeline? – Leveraging a CRM can save you time, streamline and automate your sales processes, and deliver actionable insights on the health of your pipeline, your client/stakeholder relationships, and your business overall.
Do you forecast your sales opportunity revenue amounts and probability to close? – Even if you’re a solopreneur, do this activity at the same time every week and emulate being the Global Sales Director of a Fortune 500 company. Contrary to what many entrepreneurs think, there are advantages to the corporate world, including many of their rigorous and recurring sales pipeline review meetings. Stop playing small ball! Put structure in your days, be on top of your numbers, commit to data analytics, and better position yourself for reliable, recurring revenue streams.
Do you track your month-to-date (MTD), quarter-to-date (QTD), and year-to-date (YTD) sales target to goal results? – Don’t stop there, though. Go next level and also track month-over-month (MOM), quarter-over-quarter (QOQ), and year-over-year (YOY) trends as well.
What is the duration of your typical sales cycle? – Through your analysis, you may notice that there is a certain segment you serve that usually has a shorter sales cycle compared to others. If so, and assuming you’re not sacrificing profits to achieve this result, go all-in on that segment! What are you waiting for? Do it now!
Who are your most profitable strategic partners? – It’s critical to spend as much time as you should with the referral sources that repeatedly send you leads exactly matching your ideal target customer and that convert into clients that pay, stay, and refer.
Do you know why you win deals? – Over time, as more sales come in, you will discover the one result or outcome that your customers are looking for when they purchase your products, enroll in your program, or invest in your services. This key finding should be leveraged to drive and refine future marketing messaging and sales efforts to amplify your sales results even more.
Do you know why you lose deals? – Be sure to track which competitors you lose deals to and the reason(s) why so you can be more prepared to compete with them and prevent their erosion of your market share.
Have you ever thought about how your product/service/solution may actually complement your competitors’ offerings? – Very few do this. Keep in mind you probably are not the only one that lacks bandwidth or is overworked, struggling to come up for air, and operating at capacity. As odd as it sounds, strategic alliances can be formed in which larger companies pass along deals to smaller competitors in the same space. Plus, a prospect may express that what you offer is redundant or identical to what they are already using and paying. In reality, if you probe and dig deeper, you’ll often find that is not the case.
How many of your sales come from online vs. offline? – Industry leaders have a blend of both and are not solely dependent on one over the other. Are you?
What is your top producing sales channel? – It’s imperative to constantly monitor and analyze the percentage of overall sales that come from each channel or medium. Again, a diversified revenue stream is the go-to model for best-in-class companies.
Sales renewals and repurchases
How long on average does your client stay with you? – Increasing your average client lifetime value (CLV) should be at the heart of all your customer-driven growth strategies.
How many products/services do your client family members typically own? – Note that the higher the number, the longer they stay with you!
Do you know what the next best product/service is for your client? – Everyone on your staff should know this, not just you as the business owner.
What percentage of your revenue comes from new clients vs. existing clients vs. former clients? – A great way to better serve your client base, deepen those relationships, and ultimately aggressively grow revenues is to implement a formalized cross-sell and upsell program. Another highly effective, yet underutilized way to revitalize your sales and get some quick wins is via a “former customer reactivation program.” Provided they left you previously on good terms, any stale or prior customer relationships can be reactivated and even expanded much more easily, quickly, and cost-effectively than trying to find a new client.
Do you segment your opportunities and clients and focus most of your time cultivating relationships and exceeding the expectations of your most profitable ‘tier 1’ accounts and deal pursuits? – Prioritize your to-do’s that bring in new clients or preserve existing clients, particularly the more profitable ones. Follow this guiding principle if you want to scale your business.
Do you proactively forecast and prepare for client renewals? – If you don’t, your competitors are ready to pounce and poach your beloved clients. Don’t let this happen to you!
Sales enablement and simplification
Do you invest in sales training? – It’s vital that your sales team adheres to the same sales methodology. Your sales operating model and process needs to not only be standardized but also as simple as possible for all parties involved from sales support to inside sales to outside sales to sales management. Compared to twenty years ago, it’s much easier to coach up and train your sales force. Always encourage underperformers to read books or watch videos on how to improve their selling skills and sales delivery.
Have you ever had an independent business growth advisor assess your current state marketing, sales, and client service process? – He or she can share leading practices for your industry to standardize and simplify your workflows and improve your business performance.
So how did you do?
Did you identify immediate areas of improvement? If so, which of these breakthroughs will you act on to boost your sales and ignite the launch and expansion of your business?
Contact RevSherpas to help turn around your sales, accelerate your revenue growth, and elevate your small business to the next level TODAY!