Hey tech sellers. Nick and Paul back again. Today we briefly chat about this whole “managing the pipe” thing.
Right, and what's the sort of big problems you're finding?
One of the issues we are finding is that some companies get good at having disciplines on how they look at the sales pipe, and understandably what they do is spend time and energy at the closing end, around sales proposals and closing the deal, and that's important.
Yeah as that’s how you get the money.
Yeah, get the money and get over the line, but sometimes that causes lack of focus on the top part of the pipeline, which is where your leads and opportunities are. So, what could happen is you can be so focused on getting the deals over the line, you forget you need to be doing some work on the leads, to qualify them, understand opportunities and keep in touch with them.
This is so that when we do manage to get some of those closing deals over the line, we don't end up with this big “lull", and that we keep our whole pipe moving.
Which impacts cash flow and all of that.
Yep, because if we don’t promote, or qualify stuff at the top of the pipe enough, we're going to lag and that's a terrible thing, as you say, the cash flow stuff comes into play.
There’s lots of you out there that go through the peaks and troughs of the sales as we have briefly described, and as we mentioned last week, we can identify gaps and opportunities for you quickly.
A couple of hours with a good sales audit process will give you that picture. A good place to start, understanding where you are at right now.
So, if you aren’t already, “manage both ends of the pipe.”
Paul here from Sell More Tech. We’re often asked what the key attributes of effective sales people are.
The first attribute that springs to mind is persistence. Some deals particularly B2B can take a while for all sort of reasons from the prospect taking a long time to make up their mind to waiting on budget to be approved to the prospect being genuinely too busy with other projects.
Regardless, you need to keep knocking on the door until you confirm a yes or a no. Hence you need a fat sales pipeline so you can get on with other opportunities in the meantime.
Be a curious listener
You've got to be a good listener, and when I say a good listener, you've got to be genuinely curious and interested in the prospects you want to do business with.
As part of this you need to become adept at getting into their shoes to understand what their pain points are so you can develop a relevant and compelling pitch. Show them you’ve done your homework, you understand their key issues and how you can help make them more successful.
Be great at developing relationships
The other key attribute is you've not only got enjoy relationships, you’ve to be great at building and nurturing them. The reason for this is simple. Its effective relationships that generate sales and repeat business, not hard sell tactics.
Hunt as a team
It’s often a good idea to work in tandem with members of your technical team (sometimes the founder) when hunting sales. It can be very effective to have the sales person navigate the sales process and the relationships and then bring in one of the technical team to talk about the technical aspects of the solution or product.
Other benefits of adopting this approach are it’s a more enjoyable experience working together, it builds teamwork, you can provide each other with feedback and it can be good for the sales person, particularly if you only have one, as it can be a lonely gig at times.
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No-one in business has bottomless pockets so it is important for you to focus on the right places to put your money. The more you spread your wings, the more you will need to effectively manage your time and money,
I would suggest signing up for a free version of a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). To this day I continue to use a free CRM.
You need a CRM as it allows you to record, measure and access all sales activity. In turn, that enables you to answer fundamental questions on how to manage sales, namely:
• How many prospects do you have in play?
• What stage of the sales journey is each prospect at?
• What’s the potential value of the deals in play, if known?
• What are the most pressing sales priorities, based on these prospects?
• How effective is your selling?
In short, a CRM provides a framework to manage sales - and you don’t need to be fancy. Like all good technology, a CRM is available free on your mobile device.
Fundamentally though, whether you use a CRM or not, I have learned that every interaction is a potential sale.
One way or another, a person needs to sell something and another person needs to buy it.
The practice of selling is really all about communicating. So why not practice selling EVERY time you communicate.
Why not try communicating clean sheet style by finding out the motivations of your team.
Ask questions to understand and listen, before asking for something or telling people what you want.
So, tech enthusiast, take that passion you have for building the best technology and apply it to building the best relationships.
Next time you have a chat at the water cooler, ask questions, listen to responses and learn how you can help. Then take what you know and apply that to what you have just learned.
You might be surprised at the results you get. And don’t be surprised when you start selling more.