Recently, one of my clients, the CEO of a division of Logitech (the mouse people), proudly announced that he had made only two of what I consider to be the seven fatal mistakes people make when they’re working to grow their sales.
What about you? Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur, the owner of a small to medium sized business, or the division CEO of a company with over $2B (that’s billion) in sales, chances are one or more of these mistakes are keeping you from what you’re killing yourself for…
Less frustration and stress.
Read the 7 summaries below and download the full excerpt from our book, Predictable Revenue, if you’d like to know more.
Fatal Mistake #1: Not taking responsibility for understanding sales and lead generation.
How to Correct: You must have a solid understanding of how lead generation and sales works. If you don’t, you’ll create arbitrary revenue goals. Things you need to know include:
- The different streams of lead generation you’re implementing (outreach, referral, inbound/attraction),
- The value of each lead (average deal size, close ratios, leakage, life-time value),
- How long each takes (initial conversation to close – also known as lag time) and
- Actionable steps each lead must progress through to generate happy paying customers with long lifetime value (intrastage metrics for reliable forecasting).
Fatal Mistake #2: Thinking sales reps should prospect, close, and manage accounts (the jack-of-all trades approach).
The peaks and valleys of sales are the direct result of this unpleasant approach. We get so focused on the close that our pipeline build suffers.
How to Correct: Ideally, specializing sales roles is the answer to this problem. What this means is creating a pod of sales talent to perform specific functions:
- Inbound marketing development (lead follow-up – profile: task-oriented)
- Targeted outreach business development (profile: task-oriented)
- Closer (challenger / consultative / strategic sales – profile: people-oriented)
- Account management (cross-sell / up-sell / client relationship / post sale growth – profile: people-oriented)
But what if you’re a solo practitioner?
Then habitually spend 20% of your time in prospecting mode – building your pipeline. Set aside a block of time each day, or on days you know when your ideal customer is more reachable, and hammer out five meaningful conversations for each 2-hour session you allocate for prospecting.
Another prospecting habit I teach clients is called 1st & 10 (borrowed from the real estate folks).
- Each day, every day, spend 20 minutes sending notes (email or paper) to 10 people in your network or targets for your network (2nd-degree connection building on LinkedIn, for example).
- Do not sell.
- Offer help. Guidance. Good-will.
- People will get back to you (if worded correctly, the experts say 70% of LinkedIn people will respond to you, for example). They may ask what you’re up to. When the timing is right, you can ask these people for referrals. Or for a connection.
The Results of 1st & 10 Math:
264 More Conversations Each Year! Here’s how the math works:
10 notes (times) 22 business days/month = 220 notes/month (times) 12 months/year =
264 more conversations than you’re having right now.
Fatal Mistake #3: Assuming channels or partners will sell for you.
How to Correct: Perfect your process, first. Channels come after. Control your own destiny by building direct sales success internally, then package your proven process up for your channel partners.
Fatal Mistake #4: A casual approach to hiring and training.
How to Correct: Get expert advice on how to hire, train and coach new employees. Sink or swim training does not work. Especially if your goal is to predictably grow sales.
Fatal Mistake #5: Thinking your product is for E-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y.
How to Correct: Pick a niche, get rich. I like the analogy from our book – think fire hose. Wide spray goes wide, but not far/deep. Tighten to a laser-think stream, it will punch through a wall. Punch through market chatter/noise with a tight message that differentiates you from your competition.
Fatal Mistake #6: Sloppy Metrics/Vanity Metrics
How to Correct: This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Dials per day? Really? What does that tell me? If you can only track 5 metrics, here’s a good set:
- Number of new leads per month, by source (outreach, referral, partner, inbound, etc.)
- Conversion rate of leads to opportunity, by source
- Number of, and pipeline dollar value of, qualified opportunities — that’s sales accepted leads (SAL) — per month, not sales qualified leads (SQL). This is the most important leading indicator of revenue!
- Conversion rate of SALs to closed deals
- Booked revenue:
- New Business
- Add-on (up-sold, cross-sold)
- Renewal Business (SaaS & annuity/insurance models)
Fatal Mistake #7: Control-freak management
One of my favorite books is CEO-Flow (written by Aaron Ross). Its message is to turn employees into mini-CEOs.
How to Correct: Study the proven practices of companies who have harnessed the full creativity, passion, and inspiration of their troops and as a result have increased profitability per employee. “The Seven-Day Weekend,” “Delivering Happiness,” “Tribal Leadership.”
In fact, always be studying and learning how to improve yourself and your multiple talents, both logical and creative.
And push back from that darn TV, OK?
Back to my CEO friend…
Which fatal mistakes did he make? #3 and #1. Both of which we are correcting and (within 60 days) already seeing results!