The Sales Process Before the Sales Process

The Sales Process Before the Sales Process

It’s Not Always About the Opportunity

It’s no secret that sales people and sales leadership are laser focused on the sales process that drives opportunities to close. I would say it’s quite natural. You have a deal in the pipeline and you want to replicate the steps that have been used successfully in the past to ensure the deal closes. But what about the steps needed to get the opportunity into the pipeline? Deals don’t just show up in the pipeline do they? No, of course they don’t.  They happen as a result of a process that has a different goal.

Introducing the Account Sales Process

One of my favorite features in the new Dynamics Customer Engagement is the ability to build Business Process Flows for virtually anything. Business Process Flows are how you easily establish and track any process. Need one for Leads – got it.  Need one for Opportunities – got it. The one we are going to focus on for the this post is the sales process that takes a prospect from never having heard of your company to active opportunity.

If you stop to think about the actual process that takes a prospect to opportunity, the steps are not all that difficult. You can’t sell anything to anyone if you are not speaking with the right person. You also probably have an ideal customer size and industry. Then when you do find the right person and they are the right fit, you have to establish that your product or service fits a need they have. There you have it! In just one short paragraph you have a sales process to get you to the sales process. When you take this process and build it into a Business Process Flow, as you can see below, you end up with an incredibly easy way to execute and manage the sales process before the sales process.

How To Get Started

Interestingly enough, most companies have the activities going on, they just have not identified them as a sales process. I highly recommend that you take those steps and turn them into a sales process. Don’t have Dynamics Customer Engagement? Though it is a little more cumbersome, you can still accomplish this by simply classifying your prospect records by the stage they are in.

Once that is accomplished, you can add more sophisticated measurements that tell you how long it takes on the average for a prospect to turn into an opportunity. Like everything, you have to walk before you run, so get started today.

Want help establishing the sales process before sales process for your business? We would love to help.

About the Author

About the Author

Kip Smith - Founder & CEO

Kip is a business process engineer who has spent the last 20+ years providing architectural and executional guidance to companies wanting to streamline their customer lifecycle and operational productivity. With experience in both large corporations and small entrepreneurial companies, he prides himself in being able to quickly identify the road blocks that keep organizations from reaching their full potential and then implementing solutions that remove those roadblocks.

Prior to founding Alternetics in 1999, Kip was a member of the senior management team for two large publicly traded companies, serving in both sales and operational leadership roles.

Better Sales Activity Management

Better Sales Activity Management

The Sales Activity Management Dilemma

There are as many ideas on sales activity management best practices as there are sales executives. Unfortunately many of those ideas are based on rudimentary fundamentals that never really translate to real-life. It usually involves having your sales team “scheduling” activities in the future that are not on the intended recipients calendar. This inevitably leads to the call we get all to often about how to auto-complete activities that did not happen or happened but never completed.

Why it Doesn’t Work

While it sounds good in theory, “scheduling” activities that are not really required to happened at that time never works because salespeople are rarely beholden to anything other than closing a deal. If a new prospect or existing client asks for a meeting at the same time the salesperson “scheduled” a follow-up call, rightfully, the call goes unmade. The same thing happens over the course of the next few days and all of a sudden the overdue calls pile to the point where the salesperson doesn’t look at the list without feeing stressed and behind.

A Better Approach to Sales Activity Management

A better approach to solving the problem is to not focus on “scheduled” activities but rather completed activities and more specifically the date of the last activity. By doing this you are getting significantly greater intelligence than you get from seeing a list of incomplete calls and it is happening as a normal part of the day as opposed to creating something new to do.

By simply adding a field in the CRM of your choice that records the last completed activity date, when your team does have time to make calls, they simply sort their call list based on the people they have not communicated with the longest. As they make calls the list re-sorts. If they have to stop, they can easily pick up where they left off without feeling like they are behind. For management, the data can be quickly graphed to visualize the frequency your prospects and customers are being touched.

To take it up a notch, add another field and limit it to only outbound activity. Tracking outbound activity is a great way to determine whether you are under staffed or over staffed. If your salespeople are only able to react to inbound activities, it could mean there is a gap in your new business development team.

So there you have it, another idea for sales activity management. Best of all, it is easy for the salespeople to do and sales executives to manage. And that is always the best solution.

Have sales activity management problems? We would love to help.

About the Author

About the Author

Kip Smith - Founder & CEO

Kip is a business process engineer who has spent the last 20+ years providing architectural and executional guidance to companies wanting to streamline their customer lifecycle and operational productivity. With experience in both large corporations and small entrepreneurial companies, he prides himself in being able to quickly identify the road blocks that keep organizations from reaching their full potential and then implementing solutions that remove those roadblocks.

Prior to founding Alternetics in 1999, Kip was a member of the senior management team for two large publicly traded companies, serving in both sales and operational leadership roles.

Recent Telemarketing Benchmarks!

Recent Telemarketing Benchmarks!

Are There Benchmarks?

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been asked about what type of results can be expected when executing a simple telemarketing campaign and wished there were telemarketing benchmarks somewhere. Given our business is creating platforms that enable customers to execute these type campaigns, I completely expect the questions. In every case however, the only response I am professionally and accurately able to provide is “…it depends…”

So rather than continuing with a completely un-scientific and un-helpful response, I thought I would post the results of a recent telemarketing effort we executed internally. Please feel free to use it as telemarketing benchmarks or reference to compare your results.

The Calling Effort

To frame the effort, this campaign was directed at 1,000 contacts from a list we obtained from an association which we are a member. In terms of data quality standards, it would be considered a much higher quality list than what you might get from list providers like Alesco Data, Zoom Info, Info USA. I am guessing the “Bad Number” and “Not at the Company” results would be much higher with a less qualified list. Of course that is another very un-scientific opinion.

The goal of our campaign was to introduce and educate, not to sell. Below are the actual call results, by type, that we experienced. The chart I have included below was printed directly from our Dynamics 365 system.

telemarketing benchmarks

As you can see, roughly 68% of the calls landed in voicemail boxes while a mere 6% resulted in actual conversation with the intended recipient. Not surprisingly, only .02% of the people we called were not at all interested in what Alternetics offers. This is completely in line with my belief that education is a much better telemarketing effort than sales. I have typically experienced that just because someone does not buy today, does not mean they will not buy in the future.

Given these results, I find it remarkable how many companies regard telemarketing as “dead.” While it is definitely more expensive than other education efforts, it does produce results. But then I guess it depends on the objective of the campaign. Off my soapbox and back to the campaign…

How you interpret these results depends largely on your marketing philosophy. My marketing philosophy is based on the premise that 100% of the companies who don’t know about you won’t buy from you. Since our campaign strategy was education and not an immediate sale, I would say this was a very successful campaign. We spoke directly with almost 6% of the people we called and for the 68% we did not speak with directly, we were able to leave a voicemail with who Alternetics is and why we are calling.

So there you have it. The actual telemarketing benchmarks from a well-executed telemarketing campaign. Please feel free to share your results! I would be curious to see what others are experiencing.

And of course, if we can assist you in setting up the technology infrastructure to execute and capture these type results, please reach out so we can help!

About the Author

About the Author

Founder & CEO

Kip Smith is a business process engineer who has spent the last 20+ years providing architectural and executional guidance to companies wanting to streamline their customer lifecycle and operational productivity. With experience in both large corporations and small entrepreneurial companies, he prides himself in being able to quickly identify the road blocks that keep organizations from reaching their full potential and then implementing solutions that remove those roadblocks.

Prior to founding Alternetics in 1999, Kip was a member of the senior management team for two large publicly traded companies, serving in both sales and operational leadership roles.

Better System Adoption

Better System Adoption

If you’ve spent any time in business, you’ve probably been involved in a “…ok, here it is…” system deployment. You know, the one where your boss calls a meeting to tell you about the great new software the company just purchased that is going to make your life so much better. Oh, and you can begin using it right away! Of course the part that is usually left out is how to best use the new tool to get those great new results.

We all know big-bang deployments don’t go well. So why do companies continue to neglect the user training aspect of the effort? And even if initial training is provided, what it you were not there for the initial training? The reason is because training has always been seen as a costly endeavor that takes takes a good deal of time to create and that no one really enjoys.

When I first started working on our PowerFranchisor365 solution, we thought we would solve this problem by creating a complete training curriculum and provide free access to all users. The classes were thorough and well produced. We created everything in an online teaching platform to try to make the user experience as good as possible. We even had a test at the end to gauge how well you listened and retained. The result? A big dud. As it turns out, users don’t want to sit through a training curriculum and be tested at the end. Users want quick answers to specific questions and not much else.

 So knowing the big-bang deployment did not work and the produced training did not work, we decided to try very basic short videos. The result? A big success! It seems users are perfectly willing to watch a two or three minute video that specifically shows them how to do what that want to do. No need for big production, just a simple screen capture showing yourself doing what it is they want to do and it works.

While there are lots of video options for the storing and distribution of these videos, we found YouTube playlists to be pretty effective.

I hope this tip saves you time and improves your deployments. Be sure to leave a comment if you have found other methods to be particularly helpful in your system adoption efforts.