January 22, 2021

Sales and Marketing Advice

Do you need a sales audit to boost revenue?

Ron Stein | 11/16/2020

Things are pointing in the right direction for your company. Sure, business could be better, yet at the last team meeting your salespeople were spouting a rosy outlook – deals are on track. But that’s what they always say and fewer buyers than you expect seem to close. 

It’s seems the revenue forecast is out of whack with the sales pipeline and conversions. 

How confident are you about where your company stands? The truth is, sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know --- and the clock is ticking. It’s not always obvious, yet it should be.

One thing is inescapable – if you and your team don’t sell effectively, competitors will grow at your expense. A sales audit will help. It’s like one on those health checkups where you go in to a hospital for weekend full of prodding, probing, and embarrassing questions. 

I’ve worked with hundreds of companies and their sales teams, and see this all the time. Based on my experience, about 30% of businesses don’t have much of a sales process, if any; around 50% have a process that’s half-baked and ineffective; and the other 20% have their act together and rock!

Successful companies establish and follow simple steps. It’s not rocket science. The goal is to take the randomness out of selling and make it predicable. No matter the situation, product, service, or industry.  

But how? 

There’s a lot to think about, starting with where in your sales cycle deals stall. Then there’s strategy, a well-defined target audience, a clear message, qualifying suspects, needed tools, how to engage, what to say, when to take what actions, how to handle objections, and what systems to use to track, follow-up, and measure progress. 

The key is developing a process from start to finish that creates predictability. You’ll end up with a sales playbook that everyone knows how to use. 

A sales audit is like a magic elixir for an organization. It’ll not only identify and overcome weaknesses in your process, you’ll get a precise step-by-step road map on how to find ideal customers, build rapport, present and demonstrate, squash objections, smoothly onboard them, and end up with customers for life. 

If I were to conduct an audit of your business, here are just a few of the many areas we’d examine to answer how you’ll grow revenue moving forward – with certainty and without drama. 

Where in the buying cycle are deals stalling and why? This is a great place to start because it points to issues in the early stages of the sales process. First note the use of the term, “buying cycle” instead of “sales cycle”. Baked into your strategy and actions should be the idea that potential customers have a certain type of problem you can solve and an archetypal way their buying journey starts, rolls along, and ends. So, you’ve got to ooze pinpoint value from the beginning. Then, you must recognize that many times your biggest enemy isn’t the competition, but status quo. In other words, along with the value proposition your salespeople must learn how to communicate a compelling case for change. The bottom line is your sales team needs a consistent process that helps them overcome prospect’s uncertainly and limiting beliefs about buying, by tipping their action threshold in your favor. 

To control the sales conversation, map out the buyer’s journey step-by-step. Like it or not, buyers today control their journey through the buying cycle much more than we control the selling cycle. But we can and should control the conversation. This has critical implications throughout the entire selling process, with the biggest impact in the earlier stages. Buyer journey mapping helps you to understand your target audience’s path to purchase. Where they hang out, online and offline, influencers they follow to educate themselves about the solutions they need, and what kind of information they seek. Once you actively engage each prospect, every single word out of your mouth has to be deliberate. To help buyers get what they want, you’ll need control the conversation to develop rapport on a conscious and unconscious level. This allows you to “guide” the conversation and gather the information needed, ultimately presenting the “perfect” solution to your prospect’s problem. Rarely does a prospect says what you want or follow your preconceived notion about what the sale should be. Know what to ask, how to ask, and at which stage of the buyer journey. This is part of your selling process and each salesperson needs to be trained on the art of engagement.  

All leads are not created equality. You’ve always been told that selling is a numbers game. The more leads and prospects, the better the odds of closing deals. Yet that’s not necessarily true. Prospecting is an art as much as a science. No matter if you rely on inbound digital marketing or outbound activities like trade shows and emailing, lead generation and prospect hunting should be measured on quality before quantity. This impacts your sales process not only in the strategy phase, but also later on. That’s because one big part of selling is actively disqualifying leads and prospect. Here’s why. About fifty percent of the names you have in the pipeline have a low probability of closing. Around 20% know they need what you have and their pain is burning – they want to buy and will make a quick decision. These are great buyers! Another 30% or so know they need your solution, but are not quite ready to buy because there is insufficient pain. They are still searching for answers and you have a good shot at their business. The other 50% are tire kickers, enjoy learning about new things, and love the attention. Don’t waste your time trying to talk them into buying and tactfully disengage with these folks. Discovering which bucket your leads and prospects fall into is an art. 

Change is difficult, for you and your buyers. 

A sales audit is a powerful way for you and your team to determine where the sales process can improve and help build an environment for sales success. Done correctly, a sales audit will uncover problems that are not obvious. 

How effectively are your internal systems and processes? Are you set up to support a high-performance sales organization? How consistently does the sales team follow a sales process? Do you have a documented sales process aligned with your buyer’s decision-making process?

The above points only touch the surface. A sales audit is a deep dive of the who, why, when, what, where, and how. Everything your organization is doing now to get a customer for life and where the process is breaking down. And of course, what you can do to fix that. 

To reach your revenue goals, you need to have confidence that you’re on the right path – a path that’s predicable and repeatable. 

 

Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's sales and marketing coach, Ron Stein.
Ron is the founder of FastPath Marketing & Selling. He works with tech-enabled companies, helping them find the fastest path to revenue with executive advising, business development coaching and consulting, as well as marketing and selling training. As an accomplished tech industry business leader and entrepreneur, Ron has served in top-level sales, marketing and business development roles ranging from emerging companies to global tech giants, including as the CEO of a venture-backed wireless startup. Ron is on the advisory board of the University of Florida’s two internationally recognized tech business incubators and writes a popular column on how to grow revenue in the award-winning Florida Trend business magazine. Learn more at FastPath Marketing & Selling. Ron can be reached at 727-642-4246 or by email.

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