As an entrepreneur who is solely responsible for the success and failure of her company, I often get paid to tell my clients what they do not want to hear. Namely, why their sales goalsand/or why sales forecasts–reported by the reps themselves– are not being met .
Answer: We are human. We cannot help but believe that everyone wants to buy from us, needs only what I am selling, and will choose me over all others.
To complicate the issue, you think the same. You trust what you’re hearing because it’s what you want to hear. It’s what you want to believe.
The sheer VOLUME and SIZE and COMPOSITION of your open pipeline must account for these realities. CEOs should know better, frankly, and stop being surprised.
At any one time a sales rep’s pipeline needs to be at least 3X her sales goal. There is no better way to characterize the attitude and actions such a mindful sales rep would have than as one of “American Hustle.” This person would never settle, never feel comfortable, never let a verbal take the place of a signed contract. (BTW, hustle is not to be confused with stressed and stupid.) Even a signed contract does really ensure anything. It’s a good sign, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee things will get started when planned and–most importantly–get billed as planned.
Earlier blog posts have stated the same, but here it is again: You must set and manage to quotas in your CRM system. If the quota is not met, let the person go. I’ve been told my blog posts are harsh, but the one thing harder than finding a true sales rep is finding a true sales manager. I’d rather be tasked with hiring the Easter bunny. If you, or the aptly named Sales Manager, does not enforce the quotas then know that you are throwing money out the door in hopes that it will magically return itself to your bank account.
I see this over and over again. If the following story sounds familiar, dust off the resume.
Said client’s sales team spent 90 minutes arguing under the guise of “discussion and process clarification” about when it was necessary to enter an Opportunity into Salesforce.com.
I say, “As soon as one is suspected.” Put every possible engagement, no matter how little is known, in Salesforce at 0% probability and hustle (get it?) to fill in all the unknowns, including all the players (aka Opportunity Contact Roles). If we did this and were prudent with Close Dates, Amounts and Probabilities (something that is very difficult for anyone in sales) then you’d realize just how precarious today’s pipeline is. “Pathetic” is the word I hear most often.
Most would crumble under this reality. Anyone worth keeping would start to hustle. They’d stop feeling comfortable, ask themselves how to be smarter*, and start to pay attention to every person involved in the decision to contract your company–not just the person you have a connection with (who may very well be insignificant…but we don’t want to believe that either.)
There is no CRM or other magic lever that can make up for the “hustle” the people on your sales team requires.
I know, I know…this is not what you wanted to hear.
* You noticed that asterisks, didn’t you? Good sales reps at least know how to identifying dogs that they need to ditch. Really good sales reps think through how to delicately disengage without burning a bridge.