Sales Enablement Improvements Are Key To Dramatic Results In Days, Not Months
Over the past few months we’ve been doing some testing with a new sales process tool that allows us to look more closely and leverage the data to review a company’s entire funnel for full click-to-close analysis. The most interesting part of this review is we see almost every company has challenges at the back of the funnel.
This means they either struggle to close a high percentage of proposals or they’re not able to move qualified leads through the funnel and down to the proposal stage. Both of these funnel challenges present opportunities to upgrade and improve revenue generation efforts without having to move one stitch of marketing.
The results of this work are realized in days, not weeks or months, and the investment required to make these upgrades is low when compared to the revenue from closing more new customers.
Here are the two biggest areas for improvement we’ve seen. See if you could use them at your company to drive similar results.
Sales Enablement Upgrade Area #1: Your Proposals/Contracts/Presentations Are Horrible
I’m being nice. Take a look at your proposals, agreements, contracts, recommendations docs or capabilities presentations – whatever documents and paperwork you’re giving to prospects at the end of the process. You know, the document that requires them to sign before you count the deal as closed.
We’ve seen hundreds of these docs, and almost all of them are bad. They’re often presentations with 20 slides, and 19 of those slides are about you, your company and your products, or they’re 10-page proposals with nine pages of legalese. The recommendations often don’t match what your prospect wants to buy. All of these stumbles can be fixed quickly with just a few adjustments.
Make sure this document starts and ends with the benefits to your prospect. If you’re going to save them $100,000 a month, that should be the beginning, middle and end of your story. They already know you, your team and your company, or else they wouldn’t have let you get all the way to the end of their buyer journey. You can include this in your doc, but make it the afterthought, not the lead story.
Take out as much legal mumbo jumbo as operationally possible. When prospects get legal documents, they tend to get lawyers involved, which slows down the process. If they don’t get lawyers involved, it makes them feel anxious, and we’ve established that prospects close when they feel safe, not nervous.
Finally, get some data on what parts of your doc are working and what parts are not working. Most of today’s proposal software options give you insights into what parts are being read and how long people are spending on each part. Focus on sections that are not working well, and make it your process to continually upgrade and improve this document over time.
Be sure to track your close rate. Close rates on proposals should be in the 80% to 90% range. Few companies see this level of performance, but it should be your goal.
Sales Enablement Upgrade Area #2: You Rush To The Proposal Stage Without Getting To Know Your New Customer
The other area that seems to be often neglected is a sales process upgrade. Most sales reps and most sales organizations get overly excited when a prospect asks for a proposal. The rush to get them the proposal almost always causes you to skip important “get to know you” steps that allow you to create a customized, personalized and solutions-focused proposal in the first place.
Regardless of what your prospects wants, you need to follow your process. The process is designed to get prospects the right set of recommendations, so make sure they understand the goal behind your process. Don’t rush to the proposal stage, no matter what your prospects say.
Make sure you have steps in your process that help you to ask the hard questions, get to know your prospect and help your prospect get to know you. Include at least one or two meetings, calls or interactions that are specifically designed to help your prospect get to know, like and trust you. Take your time, because in this case, going slow helps you go faster.
The last thing you want is to spend time with a prospect only to get rejected at the last stage. You want to get to “no” early in the sales process, not after you’ve submitted your proposal.
Clients are almost always looking for immediate results. Unfortunately, many of the marketing tactics in the lead generation handbook take some time to gain traction and start generating results. Need more visitors to your website? Even pay-per-click takes some time to plan, set up, activate and optimize. Give that tactic at least a few weeks.
On the other hand, these sales enablement tactics have an immediate impact. Prospects are already in your pipeline, so upgrading your proposal or recommendations document can improve your close rate on those opportunities already at the bottom of your pipeline.
The second upgrade is going to have an immediate impact on those prospects in the middle of your sales funnel, so perhaps the impact is not going to take place in a matter of days. But depending on your sales cycle, it is going to increase the quality of sales opportunities in your funnel, shorten your sales cycle and help those prospects already in your sales process to close at a higher clip.
Combining these two sales enablement upgrades is going to help you close faster and more frequently. If these two upgrades help you increase your conversion rate from sales-qualified lead to sales opportunity by 10%, increase sales opportunities to proposals by 10% and increase your conversion rate on proposals submitted to new clients by another 10%, here’s the impact on revenue.
Sample funnel before upgrades:
- Sales-qualified leads – 40
- Sales-qualified leads to sales opportunities – 25%
- Sales opportunities – 10
- Sales opportunities to proposals – 50%
- Proposals submitted – 5
- Close rate on proposals – 20%
You’re adding ONE new client per month.
Sample funnel after upgrades:
- Sales-qualified leads – 40
- Sales-qualified leads to sales opportunities – 35%
- Sales opportunities – 14
- Sales opportunities to proposals – 60%
- Proposals submitted – 8
- Close rate on proposals – 30%
You’re adding TWO new clients per month, but it’s more like FIVE new clients every two months. This more than doubles your revenue run rate.
This is how revenue growth works and how sales enablement plays such an important part in the science of revenue generation.
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