I hear this from clients all the time: "Why do I have to make sales even MORE complicated? I don't need to add lead scoring." Well, you don't need to make sales more complicated, and you DO need to add lead scoring. Here's why.
Lead scoring is a simple system to make your pipeline value visible to the rest of the sales team. I'm a fan of writing 3 or 4 simple scoring lines like When Is The Lead Planning to Make a Purchase (the sooner, the higher the number,) What Is The Budget For The Purchase (the higher the better,) What Is The Interest Level of the Lead (are they contacting you or are you reaching out,) and the like. Ideally, each of these lines will score 1-3 points. The higher the score, the better.
Now, how were those high-scoring leads sourced? Who on the team has the most high scores? Does that correlate to their closing ratio? Should more of the team start sourcing leads in the ways the high-scoring leads are sourced? The answers to these questions will streamline your lead generation, saving time and money, while increasing your closing ratio.
Channeling the Ginsu Knives commercials, I have to say, "And that's not all!" Are your best closers assigned to the high-scoring leads? Or are they your best closers because they close everybody, no matter the score? Why would you give your worst closer your best leads? You can learn a lot about your sales rep's strengths and weaknesses by ranking their leads and seeing if they close. Now you know where to direct your coaching with those individual reps.
"But wait! There's more!" If the scores and the pipeline are public, you have more choices in how to manage your time. Is a rep out sick, and they have a high-score appointment on the board? Does a poor closer have time for a ride along or two with a strong closer? Is Joe a weak closer because he only sources low-scoring leads? You can allocate the team's time in ways that will ensure the high-scoring leads are never left hanging, and can be used as teaching opportunities. And you can learn more about each rep's lead gen process.
And lastly, have your reps defend their scoring. If it isn't challenged, they may just tell you what you want to hear. And when the whole team can see how many high-scoring leads are generated by others, they will compete for that number, too. Nobody likes to see themselves at the bottom of any ranking more than occasionally, so that problem is now solving itself, without much management intervention.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and this won't be either. Add one scoring metric a week until you have the metrics in place that make sense for your business. Don't ask your reps to track too many factors, or it will become a burden. Aim for 3-5, and hold them accountable. And watch your bottom line change!
Elisabeth Marino is an sales process adviser working in Buffalo, NY, and a frequent contributor to LinkedIn. She has worked in sales development and evaluation for 17 years, and helped dozens of organizations improve their sales numbers. Connect with and follow her here, visit her website: www.marinoconsultants.com, on Facebook as Sales Dynamo Consulting, and follow her on Twitter @SalesDynamoNY.
I'd like to say this once and for all - Luck is not a business plan! "Talent" is not a business plan! Whew! I needed to get that off my chest.
I work with small to medium sized businesses, and sometimes really large ones, and I'm amazed at the number of times I hear that there is no skills review or specific process for the sales team to follow. Entrepreneurs hiring sales reps tell me, "they should know what they're doing." Um, yeah, but so should you. Luck is not reliable and repeatable, and without a reliable revenue stream, you're out of business.
Most people who start a business are not sales experts, just like I'm not an automotive expert. But your sales reps should be. They should be going into every sales call with a plan that helps them qualify the customer, and present that customer with the right product to fill their needs. If your reps don't do that, every sale they make is based on luck, intuition, or personality. Not good.
Every sales call should have the same purpose: lead to a sale. The sales cycle for each business is different; selling cars is different from selling medical equipment. Each one will have a different call plan. What are the necessary steps for a prospect to go from zero to sold? All of them are part of your sales process. What needs to happen in person? Those are the parts of a sales call plan. Every sales rep should be using every part of the sales process. If they aren't, they're not doing their job. They should be able to discuss it with you, and they should be able to fine-tune and improve it over time. That way, they can share best practices between them, and all improve steadily.
While we're at it, let's stop selling like it's 1995. There is nothing your customer can't learn or find on the internet. They can probably buy it cheaper, too. That means you need to be there, where your customer is doing their homework. Have some solid online support for your business and your reps. Have a great website, and include a FAQ page. Do some inbound marketing, with social media (anything retail), white papers (business and professional services, technology), a blog (food, fitness, arts, in-home services) or newsletters, all linked directly to your website. People don't buy from businesses. People buy from people. Create a web presence that helps your customer learn your business's personality, and help them know, like and trust what your business will provide.
So, to recap: have solid web presence to help your clients learn about, know, like and trust your business. Sales reps should have a specific set of skills and a plan to learn to "right size" the solution they offer your client. Your company should have a clear, repeatable sales process that evolves over time based on the successes of your sales pros. And you can't rely on talent or luck to provide a steady revenue stream. You need a plan.
Elisabeth Marino is an sales process adviser working in Buffalo, NY, and a frequent contributor to LinkedIn. She has worked in sales development and evaluation for 17 years, and helped dozens of organizations improve their sales numbers. Connect with and follow her here, on Facebook as Sales Dynamo Consulting, and follow her on Twitter @SalesDynamoNY.