By Michael Gunther
In my last column, we learned that the first step to improve your sales strategy is understanding your ideal customer. After your client profile is solidified, move on to the second “back to basics” sales step: measurement.
Do you go through periods when your business is extremely busy, followed by times when it’s painfully slow? Creating a process to measure your sales will help eliminate these peaks and valleys, ensuring that discrepancies between sales goals and actual sales are addressed and new business remains consistent.
There are three main steps to take to measure your sales: set goals, track them and gain client feedback. Following these steps will provide you with invaluable insight into how your time is best spent, how your skills can be improved and how your return on investment is shaping up. This will increase your control over both your schedule and the bottom line.
Set measurable sales goals, but think beyond the profit. Most companies make the mistake of setting sales goals that are only measured by a dollar amount (for example, aiming for $30,000 in net new business profit), while successful companies set more quantifiable sales goals.
To set quantifiable goals, you need to understand your company’s unique sales process. Take five minutes to outline the steps in your sales process, from a potential client’s initial contact with you to their purchase of your product or service. Now, identify three to five of the key steps that you can track on a weekly and monthly basis, such as the lead source, the total number of quotes generated, the number of initial client meetings, etc. Then, set monthly goals for each of these areas and track the stats – this will help direct your sales strategy and activities each month.
Once you have all the statistics, examine the results to determine their meaning: Are your closing ratios low? How are your add-on or up-sells? Are you generating enough leads to hit your goal? What activities and strategies do you need to adjust?
I know of one local company that measured their sales process and realized that it took them an average of 12 days to deliver a client proposal. Armed with this insight, they redesigned their proposal process to ensure a five-day turnaround, and their sales have increased significantly. By simply measuring their sales process and more efficiently attracting the attention of their potential clients, they were able to boost sales.
After you take the time to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your sales process and put your new strategies into practice, ask your clients for feedback. By acting on what you find, you can grow your business by 25-30%. Within the first week of gaining a new client, ask them questions that will uncover what is behind your sales statistics: What is the top reason they chose your company? What were their first impressions of your company?
Check in with them again in 30 days to be sure you’re meeting their expectations. The most important question you can ask, according to a survey from Harvard Business School, is if they would refer your products or services to someone else. This one question will tell you whether you are meeting their expectations – plain and simple. If they answer yes, find out why. If they answer no, find out where you are falling short.
To achieve your sales potential, first start with a strong client profile and then measure your sales process – through goal setting, sales tracking and client feedback. Remember the key question: “Would you be willing to refer our products or services to someone else?”