Earlier today a senior sales leader for a global manufacturer told me: “I feel like a stress patient, so much of our business lands in the last days before quarter end!” Too many salespeople adopt a last minute approach to planning sales activity. The ripple effect of this can cause problems in planning production and resource capacity; cashflow management and customer relationships amongst others.
Therefore, planning sales activity to achieve future goals is one of the most requested areas for help by our clients. Our solution to this problem is based on a simple concept: Sales Platform. Sales Platform is about balancing the 3 core sales activities:
Market – Finding and qualifying new opportunities
Working – Converting qualified opportunities
Buying – Achieving rebuy and growth from existing customers (account management by any other name).
“…Sales platform, it makes sense…vitally important to us.”James Shippen, Domino Printing UK
Backward planning and key steps
The sales platform process begins with backward planning from the target set. This requires estimating how much business will come from existing customers and quantifying the remaining gap. Then historic performance is evaluated to establish conversion rates between key steps in the sales process and future activity planned accordingly.
Here is a simple sales process example highlighting relevant conversion rates to analyse:
1. First call to Needs Analysis
2. Needs Analysis to Pitch/Quote
3. Pitch/Quote to Negotiate & Close
Assessing Sales Activity against target
Of course, this process only works if actual activity is regularly assessed against the targeted activity and results achieved, and recalibrated when necessary. Once this practice becomes habitual, predictable, on target results will follow. No stress!