In Arthur Miller’s classic play, “Death of a Salesman,” Willy Loman laments that he can’t make it in the world of sales anymore. It’s changed and his old methods don’t work. In the opening of the play, his wife asks him to try the new cheese she bought because it would be a nice change, and he utters the famous line.
In trying to figure out how to increase sales, you may be resisting the change that will make it happen. Your sales have flattened and your team’s not making its targets, so you think you need more people. But the problem isn’t your people, it’s your process.
A Scientific Approach
So you want to know how to increase sales, and you agree that you need change, but knowing what to change requires more analysis. Luckily, we have a guide. Today’s successful companies use a scientific approach to increase sales-force effectiveness, and they’ve proven that it works.
A scientific approach simply means using available data to design your processes so you take advantage of what you learn from that data. Instead of sending more people out to legacy markets, you use the data to figure out how to redefine both the markets and the approach to those markets.
Back in 2004, GE Commercial Finance used data from past transactions to re-segment customers. Using specific customer attributes, they classified and organized their prospects based on the probability of sales, then redirected the team to spend more time on high probability leads. Within a year they experienced a 19% higher conversion rate. The majority of the sales were from customers that they wouldn’t have targeted before the new approach.
Boosting Everyone’s Productivity
All companies have their top performers, their “rainmakers” who seem to deliver by some inherent sales talent. As companies use data to define new customer segments, they’re finding that they can close the gap in productivity between the rainmakers and the rest of the team. They change their processes which increases everyone’s performance and ordinary sales people become superstars.
How does this work? First, you define your target customers based on data, then you restructure your territories. Regions formerly proportioned by area on a map can be honed to be a larger or smaller area depending on the concentration of opportunities. The data eliminates both the old notion of “cold calling” and those territories that would historically under-deliver. The result is that you give everyone on your team the opportunity to be successful. Cisco Systems uses a data-driven approach to setting sales goals and have seen numbers within 2-3% of forecast for all segments.
This same approach also decreases ramp-up time for new sales people. Your training becomes essentially pointing people toward the targets, and sending them out with the tools they need to hit those targets.
The Data Shows You How to Increase Sales
Another critical step to making the change to your process can be done by analyzing the five critical metrics found in the New Math of Sales Excellence®. These metrics have been defined very well by Gil Cargill. Gil has been a pioneer in sales process coaching, having successfully coached over 5,000 sales organizations. Usable data will be different depending on your industry, but the in the New Math of Sales Excellence® metrics are universal across all sales data. These metrics provide the basis for defining your new approach.
However, HOW to use these particular metrics to redefine your process is a topic that will require more study. For that discussion, I invite you to read my post, HELP YOUR ORDINARY SALESPEOPLE BECOME EXTRAORDINARY, sales, process, performance, improvement, change, change management, market, focus.