Depending on which data you use, the percentage of salespeople who make quota each year is no bigger than around 50 percent. While no one is happy about this and the year-over-year quota attainment doesn’t vary by much, many of us seem to have accepted this as being “normal”. There are few business leaders I’ve meet who would tolerate performance like this in other departments and in a moment, I'll share a powerful tool that can help every salesperson attain quota, regardless of skill level.
The top priority for virtually all the companies I work with is new business. This is a combination of new accounts, expansion of share in existing accounts, selling a company’s complete product and service lines, and penetrating other groups and divisions.
Salespeople that don’t make quota typically have a pipeline without enough (number and size) quality new opportunities while a small percentage of salespeople have good pipelines but aren't very good at closing.
As a sales development expert, experience has proven that real, sustainable sales force improvement requires a change in culture. This means greater transparency, more accountability, constant focus on training and coaching, the recruitment of stronger salespeople, impactful sales management and great systems and processes. The return will be profound, but it takes time, effort and commitment.
Everyone needs short-term wins.
Do you have a structured, milestone based, KPI driven referral and introduction program? If the answer is yes, I’m preaching to the choir. Unfortunately, it’s a rhetorical question and the vast majority of companies and sales organizations say, "No." Your size, sophistication, verticals served, products and services don’t change this answer by much.
Among the many reasons why, discomfort asking clients/customers for help is at the top of the list. This may well include you. Here are some of things I hear when I ask, "Why?"
- What if they say no?
- I’m not sure if they are really happy.
- Have I / we done enough for them?
- They might be uncomfortable being asked.
- I don’t want to upset them.
If you have an established business with some happy repeat customers, you must create and execute a formal process that nurtures and drives introductions and referrals. This includes everyone.
An effective process sets the expectation that you will be asking for help (with introductions) when the time is right. It nurtures existing customers, fostering their desire to help you and assures you are helping them in unsolicited ways. Everybody from the CEO to line staff needs a role, defined expected behaviors and measurable metrics. It needs to be fun, rewarding and celebrated.
I’ve asked thousands of salespeople what percentage of their time is spent in “real high-quality selling situations”. I have never heard more that 25%. The power of introductions is significant particularly when measured against effort. It’s ongoing, helps with pipeline challenges, improves relationships, is great practice and can leverage the entire company.
The table below uses traditional, generic conversion ratios to show how much more effective and simpler it is to generate revenue when you are getting quality introductions.
You can do this - it's easy. It's actually easier than what you are doing today!
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