How Targeting Improves Win Rates and Shortens Sales Cycles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 @ 04:01 AM

archery-target.jpg

Now that we are nearly 3 weeks into the new year, have you changed anything with regard to goals, strategies or plans?  How about targets?  A few small tweaks to your targets can have a huge impact on revenue!

Targets are obvious but at the same time, misunderstood.  Of course I have the usual baseball analogy, which I'll skip along with the target analogies for golf, basketball, soccer, football and hockey.  The analogy that works best for today's topic is archery.  In sales, when we talk about targets, most people immediately think about revenue and profit targets, and sometimes product units and/or shipment targets.  However, today we will discuss the importance of having targets around your opportunities.  Please take a moment to review the image below:

Targets.jpg

Each opportunity is scored based on how perfectly it is aligned with your ideal prospect/customer/client. Of course, that requires that you have the ability to define and describe a perfect customer.  Can you?  That would be the first challenge.  The second challenge is to identify the criteria that would suggest and perhaps qualify that an opportunity is in alignment with your ideal. I suggest that companies choose from variables like the ten that follow:

  1. Prospect's Revenue range or minimum
  2. Prospect's Number of Employees range or minimum
  3. Contact person is the targeted Decision Maker
  4. Size of the opportunity
  5. Proximity to our sweet spot for application/deliverable/service/function/fit
  6. Opportunity can be leveraged
  7. Profit opportunity
  8. Probable Length of the Sales Cycle/Timing
  9. If there is Competition and/or Who the Competition is Likely to be
  10. Odds of Winning an Opportunity Like This

Each variable should be weighted according to importance, but to simplify the concept for this article, we will assign each criteria 10 points.  Then, your opportunities can be scored like this:

  1. 100 points
  2. 90 points
  3. 80 points
  4. 70 points
  5. 60 points
  6. 50 points
  7. 40 points
  8. 30 points
  9. 20 points
  10. 10 points
  11. 0 points

We don't score opportunities at Objective Management Group (OMG), but my sales consulting firm, Kurlan & Associates, scores every opportunity and does not pursue anything below a "D."

I even score my keynote speaking opportunities, but my criteria is quite different than the criteria for Kurlan clients or for that matter, the other speakers at Kurlan.  For instance, I turned down around 15 talks in 2015 for the following 10 reasons (in no particular order):

  1. The fee (a stipend - are you kidding me?)
  2. Time of the year (tough to commit to dates during snowstorm season)
  3. How difficult it is to travel to the destination (I hate long flights and connections.)
  4. Audience demographics (CEO's - great; Marketing people - fagetaboutit)
  5. Potential for additional business (always a good thing!)
  6. Days away from the office (Sorry Asia and the Pacific Rim!)
  7. Conflicts with any of my son's baseball or basketball games (a top priority for me)
  8. The topic they wish to have me speak about (Oh no - not that again!)
  9. The length of the talk (Longer is actually better.)
  10. The person who referred me to the organization or company (someone I don't want to disappoint?)

You'll find that sales cycles become shorter and win rates become better as you more effectively target ideal customers and hold salespeople accountable for executing on those targets.

Do you have a target that is interesting, novel, controversial or very predictive at your company?  We would love to hear about it in the comments below!

2 More Sales Experts weigh in on targeting here on the SpiroHQ Blog.

Several top sales experts, including me, weighed in with our review of 2015 progress and expectations for 2016 over at Dan McDade's PointClear Blog. It's a short article and worth a couple of minutes to check it out.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, shorten the sales cycle, sales targets, win rates

Tighter Sales Metrics at New Year Leads to Improved Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 07, 2013 @ 12:01 PM

targeted opportunitiesIf you are like most executives, you start the new year asking for everyone's goals, plans and forecasts.  Terrific start.  But then what?

You'll need to modify the pipeline requirements for each salesperson.  If the goals change, the requirements in each stage must change with them.  And if any of your salespeople's critical ratios for closing have changed in the past 12 months, those new percentages also must be factored into your new pipeline requirements.

That leads to your KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) or metrics which drive revenue.  If you collect these now via a daily huddle, that's terrific; let's tighten them up.  If you don't currently have your sales team calling in every morning for 10 minutes, you're missing out on a critical piece of accountability, team-building and intelligence.

How can you tighten up your metrics?

Suppose for example that you currently have your salespeople report the number of new conversations, newly-scheduled meetings and qualified opportunities.  You can tighten them up by inserting the word "targeted".  Your salespeople are able to call on a wide range of potential customers, but a much smaller group is in the sweet spot.  It's the sweet spot which will lead them to their goals for revenue and profitability, but any old customer will count as a new sale.  Suppose you have them report only those conversations with sweet spot or targeted opportunities, new meetings scheduled with targeted opportunities and qualified targeted opportunities.  There will be more pipeline movement, improved closing ratios and your revenue and profit goals will be achieved earlier in the year.

A benefit to this change is that those salespeople who struggle with the sweet spot, but who have hidden behind their numbers, will be exposed.  Your job is to determine why they struggle with the target opportunities.  The best way to quickly identify, understand and solve these and other similar struggles is with a sales force evaluation.

Tighter is sweeter as in the tighter the targeting, the sweeter the opportunity.

What if you fail to emphasize metrics, have daily huddles or manage your salespeople very closely?  No problem.  Those salespeople will simply leave and you can start all over again.  Seriously, why would you ignore a best practice?  The old metrics which we preached in the 70's and 80's (dials, contacts, conversations, appointments, etc.) may have gone the way of the dinosaur, but metrics in general have not.  Sure, you still may use those old metrics for a salesperson whose job is only cold calls and set appointments.  But for most salespeople, the job has changed - dramatically - in the last five years and technology has a lot to do with it.  That's an article for another day, but for today, if you focus on the metrics, remove the wiggle room, and increase compliance, every capable salesperson on your team will perform more effectively.

Harder is Easier.  Read this post for more on oximoronic metrics.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Accountability, sales metrics, KPI, sales targets

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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