At Symmetrics Group, we regularly meet highly successful sales professionals and have developed a "Top Performer" series that highlights what the best and brightest people do to thrive in their respective fields. Our Top Performers book profiles 15 people with proven records of sales success in order to uncover “success DNA” that separates them from the pack. Not surprisingly, we found some common DNA – or success markers -- across these Top Performers, one of which is the knack for knowing their “sales math” inside-out, top-down, backwards, and forwards.
At a recent workshop I engaged in a conversation involving three parties, each from a different generation. Representing Generation X, I approached a Baby Boomer Sales Manager and a Millennial Seller discussing the ideal amount of activities required to fill out a “robust” pipeline. It quickly became clear that the Manager did not feel that the Seller was getting in front of enough prospects.
If you hang in a professional sales, consulting or sales leadership role long enough you will spend a few weeks of your life at the ANNUAL SALES MEETING. You know, the ones with clever themes that are going to make you feel like changing the world: “Aim Higher,” “Deliver,” “Innovate and Motivate,” “All Together,” “Amp it Up.” I could go on forever about the time and money companies spend to differentiate their yearly sales rendezvous - I have the t-shirts, water bottles, bag tags and pens to prove it - but at the end of the day, these meetings share a common purpose that usually boils down to a combination of the following:
Whenever I am at a sales conference, I notice one prevailing theme. Salespeople love to interact with each other and share ideas. During breakout sessions, when we give salespeople an activity that involves sharing their experiences and asking for feedback from their peers, we observe so much engagement and enthusiasm… and often a reluctance to turn back to the instruction at the end of the activity. To build on that, most surveys that we receive post sales meetings show that the sellers want more opportunities to share with and learn from their peers.
In consulting, we have the pleasure of working with clients across a variety of industries who share interesting stories. Every once in a while you hear a story that makes you stop and think about the traditional ways we try and advance a sale. Here is one of those such stories…
Recently, I had the privilege of dining at Per Se in NYC for the first time. What an incredible experience. Much has been written about Thomas Keller and his exceptional restaurants (French Laundry in Napa, Per Se in NYC, Bouchon bakeries, etc.) and their impact on fine dining globally, both through the chefs who have worked for him and through his cookbooks – although I can barely spell sous vide, not to mention know how to operate a machine effectively.
About 12 years ago I consulted with a Vice President of Sales who worked for a large Fortune 50 financial services firm. He was having, like many VP’s of Sales, an issue with his pipeline yielding enough so he could hit his number. If you know anything about business-to-business (B2B) sales, you know that the sales pipeline is constantly scrutinized to ensure a seller has enough pipeline opportunities to hit quota or goal.
In general, most companies assume sellers will win one-quarter to one-third (a win ratio) of their pipeline value, all things being equal. Thus, in a lot of cases, the pipeline value needs to be 3 or 4 times the quota.
As you take sales cycle time into the equation – for example, it takes 90 days to close an average deal –the pipeline math can be a bit more complicated.
Are you intentionally exemplary? Do your actions and decisions reflect this quest for sales excellence?
Let’s be honest. With all of the hustle and bustle of balancing work and personal obligations, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm of “action without thought.” Go here, do that, call this client, place the order, check the box. And while it’s nice to have made it through your list of to-do’s every day, the repercussions of hasty decisions made in your robotic-like pursuit to just get things done can be quite nasty.