This time of year many business people are looking ahead to next year with optimism and determination to make record revenue targets. It's as if by turning the calendar from December to January somehow all things will be great and obstacles that seem too big this year will magically disappear. Well if this year didn't quite match up to the expectations, intentions and well wishes for a great 2005, here are 5 tips that will help you develop opportunities for your sales force.
Define the meaning of the word "lead". Take your best sales reps and clearly define the definition of a qualified lead. What types of companies should you go after? Who should your sales team be making appointments with? Should you target the names by title or function or both? What are their most common business pains? In other words, make it so that your sales force can pick out a prospect in a line-up if they had to.
Determine the right amount of leads per sales rep. More leads aren't necessarily better. Sales reps have to divide their day into current customer demands, administrative tasks, and prospecting. The more a sales rep is stretched, the less effective they become. Make sure you create a system that puts the rep in front of only the best prospects so that they have more quality time to sell as opposed to following up on dead-end leads that only waste the rep's time.
Determine your impact message. Time is money and your messages must be developed with the greatest impact for the task at hand. Think about every, yes every step, in your sales process. Complex sales can take a long time to develop. That's why each and every touch point of the process should be selling the next step in your sales process. From advertisements, to the web site, from the sales letters down to the first phone call, each one of these should have a specific impact message.
Qualify the lead. Most companies don't qualify the leads well. That's why after a while most reps don't jump on a lead given to them by the marketing department. There is an inherent problem with measuring both the marketing and sales departments by numbers. Marketing needs to justify its existence so any old person that fills out a web form or responds to an ad gets tagged as a lead. And sales needs to justify the number of calls, appointments etc. so they are constantly trying to close. Both departments don't determine the stage of the buying cycle that the prospect is at until it's too late. Both departments lose marketing really didn't have a hot lead as the reps thought, and sales gets discouraged because they want ready and willing buyers right now.
Make sure your lead is a decision maker or strong influencer.
The budget is available or the person can make it available.
Your solution will solve their pain.
They have expressed a real interest to explore a solution to their need right now.
Conduct a task commitment cost/benefit study. Direct selling is costly. Most studies show that face-to-face B2B sales calls are in the neighborhood of $500 or more. That's why most companies make their highly paid sales team make cold calls. Determine if it's in the best interests of your revenues and profits to have this kind of business model. If 90% of your revenues come from of a sales rep's face-to-face selling time 10% of their week is literally asking for the sale - wouldn't you want them spending more quality sales time with their prospects?
What's the best use of the sales rep's time?
Who should cold call?
Who should nurture leads?
Should you create an internal call center or hire a Business Process Outsourcing firm?
Will sales reps blow the sale by always trying to close, close, close the prospect during the formative lead nurturing cycle?
By taking the time to qualify your leads; and assign the appropriate team at each stage of the game, you will find your company in a better position to catch more prospects at the time that they want to buy.
David Wells is a business development expert, speaker, trainer, consultant and founder of http://www.emdco.com a provider of business-to-business lead creation, data confirmation and integrated marketing solutions.