2015 is nearly at the halfway point. Are you on track for your revenue numbers? You should be monitoring your activity performance weekly and reporting on it monthly. Now is the time to review your activity and reports to determine if your sales strategy and your marketing strategy are delivering on the goals you set for the year. Where are you now? Are you on track? Forget about that pie in the sky ‘elephant’ deal you carried in your pipeline for the last six months based purely on hope. Hope is not a course of action, and it will not move you closer to your dreams. In fact, if left to itself, hope withers and dies. It must be nurtured with thoughtful plans and meaningful activity that moves the needle forward toward accomplishment of important goals. In the 1937 classic, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill outlined 17 traits of great achievers. The hardest trait for most people to implement, especially sales people, is Accurate Thinking. Many sales representatives allow misplaced optimism cloud their pipelines with hopeful deals that have no basis in fact. It is much more useful to apply a harsh and purely pragmatic set of standards to your sales pipeline, cut out the wishful deals, and focus all of your time, attention and energy on the few deals that are left. Whenever I make this suggestion to clients, I always get push back. However, the few who take my advice prove the strength of focus by closing more of what they would have if they continued to spread their focus across a few poor prospects. If you focus on improving the top traits of your sales people it will help improve their results over time.
In the event that you are not on course to meet your goals, you need to do one or both of the following: change your activities or increase your activity level. Gather the data from your activity reports and separate what you think is working from what is working. Where did your leads come from? Are there any lead sources that were high volume but low quality? How about high quality but low volume?
Even if many of the deals are in the middle to smaller end of your acceptable deal size, especially if you are selling business to Business, it is usually better to focus on increasing total lead volume as there are six months left in the year. Hunting larger deals can take much longer, and there is a hidden advantage to increasing the volume of deals in your pipeline. It is what I call the referral effect.
Imagine for a moment you see 60 deals a month and close 20 of them. Your close ratio is 33%. If through your direct activity levels you increase your lead volume by 6 additional leads a month and hold the same close rate you, will gain an additional 2 deals a month or 24 deals a year. It is only a 10% increase in deal volume, but the hidden value is in the increased potential for referrals. Every employee who comes in contact with your offering is a potential referral source. At some companies, only 1-3 people will be aware of your offering, but if you thoughtfully gather contact information at each new client, it is possible to gain 10 or more referral sources from one new customer relationship. That 10% increase in leads can result in 200 new relationships! How many referrals could 200 new promoters send your way?
Very large deals can be difficult to target cold. The referral effect will also increase your chances of finding and winning an elephant. Warm introductions from mutual friends and acquaintances are a powerful pathway way to success.
If you are on track for the year, congratulations! Keep up the good work. If not, it is time to focus on finding a pragmatic strategy that will help you achieve your dreams.