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How to Prevent Sales Leaks from Draining Your Revenue

This article was republished with permission from the Unbound Growth blog.

I was recently asked if summer was a slow season for me. Having worked with startup CEOs, small business owners, and enterprise executives for the past decade, summer is when the busy season is just starting. It surprised me that I hadn’t really noticed it before. When I started to wonder why, I realized it's probably because when we set goals for ourselves, it's hard to ignore the halfway mark of the year, especially if you are barely getting there, or falling further and further behind.

If you have set a clear goal and vision of where you want the business to be by the end of this year, you’ve probably broken it down into your quarterly and monthly targets (depending on the average length of your sales cycle). If you miss a month, not a big deal; it can be made up next month. You may even continue to believe you can tweak and pivot after a missed — or barely made — revenue target for the first quarter. There is still plenty of time to make up for it in the second quarter, right?

Expecting big things to happen in Q2, things start to get panicky when it looks like the tweaks and pivots aren’t executing well, or aren’t getting the bigger results you need to make up for the previous lack of results. By the end of Q2, it’s an “all hands-on deck” moment.

And that’s why summer and the end of the year are the busiest times for us. That’s when everyone — from the frontline sales person to the CEO — is looking for a life raft for the boat that has had several small leaks for too long. If only those gaps and leaks had been identified and repaired before the ship set sail ...

3 sales leaks that lead to flat or declining revenue

Most CRM reports should be able to help you identify how severe the revenue “leaks” are in your boat. The real questions are what is causing these leaks and what can be done about it? You’ve invested in the training workshops (but 90% of the material is forgotten within a month), new tech (that you have to hire people to figure out and not everyone uses the same way — if at all), and consultants to work over processes (which seem to take forever and no one seems to follow in the end) to plug the holes, yet they still persist. What don’t you know that you need to know in order to fix it?

Here are the top three sales leaks we find most often and a few of the questions we ask to find the hidden, and seemingly small, root causes.

1) Discounting = not selling on value. Do your salespeople know why people will buy? Do they believe in buying based on value, not price, themselves? Are they comfortable and confident discussing money with potential customers? How much money is a lot of money to them? Are they able to differentiate themselves from the competition?

Can they sell more effectively on the value of solving a problem?

2) Unreliable forecasting = not qualifying or disqualifying. How often do your salespeople get to the decision makers? Do they uncover actual budgets and discuss finances? Do they ask questions to discover the cost of doing nothing? How are they helping buyers establish a timeline to get results and mutual agreement on when to buy a solution? Do they stay in the moment or get excited and happy when prospects give them “buying signals?” Do they look for reasons a customer might not be successful with your solution?

Will the opportunities in the pipeline support the revenue goal?

3) Long sales cycles = accepting put-offs. Do the salespeople believe everything prospects say? Do they accept the delays because they want to be nice and well-liked? Are they talking with the right people? How much skepticism do they have? Will they push back and ask more and tougher questions? Does the salesperson’s decision-making process support a shorter selling process? And if you have a long and complex decision-making process, do your salespeople’s motivations support that consistent effort? Do they sell consultatively and uncover urgency to solve a problem? Do they follow a sales process?

Can the sales cycle be optimized?

This is just a short list of questions to ask to determine the causes of your boat’s sales leaks. Use this link and, in five minutes, score the relative effectiveness of your current sales force compared to others as well as an explanation on what the score means.

For more on this topic, read NewVoiceMedia’s white paper The biggest mistakes your inside sales reps are making.
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