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Sales Target Attainment: Name It and Cut Through The Noise

Sales Target Attainment: Name It and Cut Through The Noise

The key to success, in pretty much any endeavor (including sales target attainment), is being able to clearly identify a goal, define the steps needed to achieve that goal, and then cut out any extraneous noise or distractions so that you can focus exclusively on execution and reaching the goal.

Ask anyone who’s been there: It’s easier said than done. But it can be accomplished.

Naming the Goal

It’s been said by many: if you don’t name your goal, you’ll never arrive at it. So first you must decide what the goal is. In the case of sales, the goal is, of course, the sales target for a given period: the quota for a month, a quarter or a year.

Of course you could just throw a big number out there—but in the real world, you’ve also got to have a chance of attaining that sales target. For that reason integral with naming the goal, or following right on its heels, is figuring out how you’re going to make that goal. In the case of a sales organization, the sales manager would need to work out goals or quotas for individual salespeople that, put together, equal the main sales target.

Constituent Parts

Each sales rep quota must be made up of opportunities that will add up to it. Here is where it’s getting a little trickier, because not every opportunity is going to be closed.

For this step, you must have already figured out the closing ratio for each of your reps. Then each rep pipeline must contain enough opportunities so that if some aren’t closed, the quota will still be met. For example, if a rep closes 40 percent of her sales, and the rep’s quota is $1 million, there needs to be $1.6 million worth of opportunities in that rep’s pipeline for the goal to be reached.

If there aren’t enough opportunities in a given pipeline for a goal to be met, the sales manager and the rep must work backward, figuring out how many leads are needed to convert into opportunities, and then figuring out where those leads are going to come from and obtaining them.

Here is where an efficient CRM solution comes into play. The CRM solution should clearly show how the leads and opportunities add up, their chances of closing, and the actual goal to be attained with those opportunities.

Clearing the Path

Once the goal is named, and each rep has an individual goal, now it becomes a matter of the clearest pathway possible toward that goal. This pathway is your sales process—clearly defined steps that take each sale from a lead to a close. A sales process is most successfully founded upon best practices of your top reps.

What companies and sales organizations don’t often comprehend is that a sales process, just like the sales environment itself and the world for that matter, is dynamic. Just as the sales environment, the market, the economy, and endless other factors are constantly in a state of flux, so should your sales process be flexible—you should be able to change it as needed.

To the degree your sales process is fixed and unchanging, is the degree that extraneous noise and distraction are going to be introduced into your sales pipeline. Such distraction comes about as reps invent their own methods to replace those that have become outmoded, or opportunities become stalled in sales process steps that no longer apply or are unwieldy in today’s scene.

The accuracy and flexibility of your sales process are what will determine how distraction- and noise-free your path to quota attainment will be.

How It’s Done

As we’ve discussed earlier in this series, individual names and accomplishes goals by being organized and focused, and proceeding in an orderly manner.

The same is true of an organization—but an organization won’t remain organized and focused without the right technology. In sales, this means the right CRM solution.

The right CRM solution is:

  • instantly customizable to your company’s processes
  • visual and intuitive, so that users can instantly grasp and proceed with what needs to be done.
  • flexible, so that changes can be made on the fly as needed.

Target attainment is possible! Name the goal, figure out how it can be attained—then clear the road of noise and distraction.

Stay tuned for more in our series on Focus and Clarity

The New ABC’s of Closing: Earning the Right to Close with Today’s Buyers

The New ABC’s of Closing: Earning the Right to Close with Today’s Buyers

One of the common complaints I’ve heard from Sales executives is that their people aren’t strong closers. To me this is a reinforcement of the fact that far too much emphasis is placed on closing. It’s as though a strong ending can salvage a poor 3-act play. Any seller that has seen Glengarry Glen Ross remembers Alec Baldwin’s advice on the ABC’s of selling:  Always BClosing. If only it was that easy. Frequent closes in B2B sales can be highly offensive to buyers who don’t appreciate pressure applied by sellers. This insinuates that the seller is in control and driving the buying process, rather than the buyer.

Many peoples’ impression about selling and closing is based upon experiences they’ve had in B2C transactions. Whether a retail store, buy insurance or buying a car, chances are the buyer and seller won’t ever do another transaction. The realization that if you leave they will likely lose the sale causes them to use high pressure closing tactics.

B2B salespeople often enjoy the benefit of multiple meetings/conversations. They reap what they sow during buying cycles. The better job they do in uncovering buyer needs and associated value, the more likely they’ll win the business.

Before earning the right to close, I believe buyers need to be aware of:

  • The business outcomes they want to achieve
  • The reasons they can’t achieve the desired results
  • The capabilities needed
  • Some type of proof (i.e. references or a demonstration)
  • The price of the offering being considered
  • The cost vs. benefit to understand potential value and payback
  • How competitive offerings compare in terms of functionality and price
  • Any implementation/conversion plans /costs if needed

Sellers are under constant time pressure each month, quarter and year to achieve quota. These pressures increase when pipelines are thin. My belief is that sellers issue premature quotes or proposals and close before buyers are ready to buy, therefore pressuring buyers and potentially putting opportunities in jeopardy.

There are several aspects of closing that sellers are either unaware of or disregard because they have their own agendas:

  1. Before closing buyers should understand their desired outcomes, why they can’t be achieved today, what capabilities are needed, the potential value and the price. In many instances they will want to compare at least 2 other vendors.
  2. It’s demeaning when sellers try to close non-decision makers. It’s awkward to ask for orders if they aren’t authorized to commit.
  3. Sellers make mistakes by not getting in front of decision makers to close. Some reply upon proposals they hope decision makers will not only read but also understand.
  4. Sellers pressure buyers when they close prematurely. Some buyers will be “put off” and may decide not to buy. Those that are willing to buy will almost certainly expect incentives (concessions and/or discounts) for buying sooner than they expected.
  5. There are few instances in B2B transactions when closing and discounting will work if sellers aren’t the vendor of choice. Some sellers rationalize that is makes sense to discount even if they can’t win because the winning vendors will accept lower prices. I believe putting low-ball numbers on the street can come back to haunt sellers.
  6. Unfortunately the old concept of selling is alive, if not well. The thought is a seller can convince, persuade and pressure buyers into giving them the business. This flies in the face of the reality that people prefer to buy without high-pressure tactics.

A seller earns the right to ask for the business if and when a buyer has all they need to make a buying decision. One of the most powerful motivators for buyers is a clear understanding of the potential benefit on a monthly basis so they understand delaying decisions means deferring benefit. If sellers do a good job, placing orders can be a logical conclusion for buyers. Some will volunteer to buy but if they don’t, the attempts to close will go much better.

Featured picture courtesy of New Line Cinema’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992).

Coming Close But Not Closing?

Coming Close But Not Closing?

Here’s How to Seal the Sale and Stop Coming in Second.

Coming close only counts, the old saying goes, in horseshoes and hand grenades. Your sales efforts are no exception. In fact, being a runner-up in the sales game is often doubly troubling, as you’ve likely invested a lot more in getting their attention than the firms who never showed up on their radar at all.

To find out what separates a done deal from a near miss, Hinge and RAIN Group studied over 700 actual B2B sales opportunities. Here’s a breakdown of how buyers and sellers of professional services identify the most important buyer selection criteria. (more…)

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