If you’ve ever worked at an entrepreneurial company, been a business owner, or worn the hat of sales person, then you understand a revenue drought. This past year I worked with a company that had been growing annually at just over the 20%. Then, due to industry changes, a lost salesperson, and higher expenses – there was a sudden announcement, if sales didn’t increase that there would have to be layoffs.
I have written previously about the importance of identifying your core customer because I have seen far too many companies waste their valuable time and resources selling to and serving the "wrong" customers. They haven't taken the necessary steps to identify their most valuable customers that purchased the primary product and were highly satisfied.
Your core customer is the one who values what you offer at a price and quantity that is good for both you and the customer and will take you into the future successfully. This is the individual that uses the product, the one you look in the eyes and can put a name to and the one you can’t live without. Knowing who the core customer is will impacts sales in a positive manner.
Philip Kotler implores us to do a better job of understanding “who” our valuable customers are and then to deeply please them, rather than trying to please everyone. It is much better to serve your Core Customer completely and fully, than to try to be everything to everyone. It will create a core market that you can please and creates a loyal fan base.
Every company should have a brand promise that it makes to its customers. The promise should differentiate you in your market and support the sales process by making it easier to close deals. The first step in developing your brand promise is to identify your core customer. The better job you do with this step, the more effective your brand promise is going to be and the more likely your prospects are to purchase a product.
These days, with all the many choices we have as consumers, customer satisfaction is table stakes. If you don’t satisfy your customer’s basic need (why they buy your product or service), then they’ll probably just take their business elsewhere. Instead of striving for customer satisfaction, strive for customer delight. In a recent blog post, HubSpot’s Mark Kilens points out that customer delight can be a competitive advantage. It is a one of Chick-Fil-A competitive advantages, every time you visit their restaurant you know you will receive outstanding customer service. How can you delight your customers, not just occasionally but with every single interaction? From your website to your front line employees and everything in between, it’s worth considering your strategy for customer delight.
Driving new sales revenue is a common theme that comes up with the clients I work with. In fact, I can’t think of many companies that have more sales activity than they know what to do with, and most are always looking for ways to build or grow their sales pipeline. One of the first places we start is taking a look at their Sales KPIs to ensure that they are measuring the right metrics to grow their revenue by producing enough qualified leads for their sales managers to distribute to the team.
There a lot of variables that go into building a great sales pipeline, and marketing plays a big part in developing marketing qualified leads (MQLs), but another big variable is measuring the right behavior that drives the right results with a great sales KPI dashboard. To do this, we must put the right leading indicator KPIs in place. It’s one thing to measure results indicators like Revenue booked, but unless the right activities are taking place, you are not going to hit your targets and your stakeholders are going to be disappointed regardless if they are internal or external. You need to develop the right sales leading indicator KPIs for your team to track your customer acquisition.
I recently blogged about why some companies increased sales and were happily forging ahead while others never moved out of the starting gate, or worse, closed their doors in 5 Secrets to Make Happy Money in Your Business. I was challenged in a recent onsite planning session to share more. As I wrestled with the question, I shared 5 MORE secrets. Whatever your description of happy money, find 5 more secrets below to add to your success bookshelf. Let's start with #6:
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Too often we evaluate sales difficulties as an inability to close. “If account managers could just do a better job at closing, we would have more sales.”
With a closer look at the problem, we find closing is not the issue. We are simply not around sufficient prospects to meet our revenue goals. Our difficulty is not closing, but a shortfall in finding and activating sufficient core customer prospects with needs we can answer.
Recently while attending a trade show, I watched my young junior sales rep presenting our execution platform to a group of prospects. His style and delivery had attracted a crowd. His small booth was full. People were looking over others' shoulders and blocking the aisle to see him.
Jarret was doing what he's done since the day I hired him, giving an enthusiastic presentation. He is new to business, not enough years of experience to be outbound and admittedly, he has much to learn.
When he is in front of a prospect, it is show time; he transfers every wealth of knowledge he has. While out one night at a conference, Jarret was granted the opportunity to meet Ken Courtright of Income Store. While at his company meeting, Ken announced what had actually happened that night at the bar. Ken told his team "Jarret from Rhythm flipped the game on me. He asked me something so profound: Are all of your divisions profitable? I responded, 'Yes I believe so,' and Jarret asked me how I knew. I told him that I guess I didn't really know, and he informed me that we needed his software. He leaves in mid-conversation and comes back with the Rhythm book. After months of staring at the book sitting on my shelf, I decided to see what it was...after the first few chapters, I said Ok, let's do this thing."
Is your team struggling with sales? If so, you’ve probably talked about sales systems and training, read books and may have engaged an outside source to “fire up” your team and get the cash flowing. Although this approach can be productive, I find that there are two things often overlooked in developing sales strategy and sales teams. They are, in order, 1) company hiring, and 2) salesperson responsibility.
Company hiring includes at minimum a responsibility to hire great players that meet your company core values and are willing to take personal responsibility for their outcomes. Let’s set aside hiring and core values (think Topgrading) and focus on the foundation of becoming a sales professional. I inquired of sales guru and best-selling author Jack Daly what he had found most important for a salesperson to move from the ranks of mediocrity to stardom. He shared ten points: