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February 10, 2021

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January 29, 2020 | 11 AM EST

Resideo hosts WeSuite for a educational webinar for their dealers on 6 Key Ways Your CRM Pays for Itself & Helps You Grow Your Business. The sales workflow

March 1, 2021

SILVER SPRING, Md. – The Security Industry Association (SIA) has named Tracy Larson as the 2021 recipient of the Sandy Jones Volunteer of the Year Award, which recognizes SIA volunteers who have

Pipeline Must-Dos That Win Sales

Developing all aspects of the pipeline helps finish the sales race strong

By JHON DOE

We last talked about how building the sales pipeline is similar to training for and running a marathon. Developing all aspects of the pipeline helps finish the sales race strong. Today, let’s dive into what to do at each stage – similar to checking your progress at specific distances in the race, verifying that you’re on track.

Most sales organizations have defined pipeline stages and expectations that those stages are being actively tracked and updated by salespeople. For goal-oriented people, understanding where you are relative to where you should be is critical to keeping you on the trail to success.

Why is tracking the sales pipeline so important?

Many people swear they operate best from the “gut.” Your gut can be a reliable indicator in certain situations. Still, the fact is that reaching goals such as running 26.2 miles or hitting your quota within a defined time frame requires performing against and tracking specific metrics.

Like a marathon, the path from contact to contract is neither straight nor level. There are unexpected curves (your key contact was just replaced with a new hire), hills to climb (the project budget has come under scrutiny), and other conditions that make progression more difficult at some phases than others. Because of this, pipeline tracking must be regimented, using clear definitions and a common language shared by your sales team. For example, an “Opportunity” has significantly more meaning when the pipeline stage “40% – Issues Identified” is included as a data point. That simple combination of information helps lead salespeople to identify and record a “next action” that keeps the sales pace up and advancing forward.

Each stage in the pipeline represents an aspect of your sales template and links an estimated percentage to goal. Moving opportunities successfully through all pipeline stages is equal to 100%, winning sales. Success is a function of the amount of activity in each stage of your pipeline coupled with your next actions. Simply put, it comes down to a numbers game. Carrying enough sales across the finish line to make quota requires maintaining a certain number of strong leads and opportunities throughout each of the previous stages, given the reality that some will drop off along the way. Tracking is key to maintaining or increasing pace.

What is the most critical thing to do at each pipeline stage?

The most necessary action within each stage of the pipeline is evaluating included opportunities, one-by-one, to assess whether they truly belong there. Three questions may help in this regard:

1) Is this prospect truly in a buying mode?

2) Why does this opportunity belong in this stage?

3) What must happen next and by when?

If the answer to the first question is “no” at any stage in the pipeline, then move the opportunity into the lost stage, record the reason for that decision in your CRM, and add a note and calendar reminder if you feel there may be some future opportunity. Otherwise, lose it fast and move on. Concentrate your energy and effort where success is possible!

If the prospect is in the buying mode, why is it in its current stage? What factors are contributing to this assignment? Recording a simple note to yourself (and your team) with this answer provides data to help validate that you are on track within that stage. Which leads to question three.

What happens next? This is the heart of the matter. In running, you track your time at mile markers. In sales, you are thinking about actions that need to occur to keep the opportunity alive and moving into the next sales stage. Your mindset should “always be closing.” Developing a list of “Next Action” items for quick selection in your CRM makes it more likely that you’ll commit to a specific task, while providing meaningful data to track your progress.

“Your pipeline is one of the most essential tools you have to gauge the probability of your success as a salesperson.”

How do I guarantee my pipeline is working for me?

Your pipeline is one of the most essential tools you have to gauge the probability of your success as a salesperson. It’s a barometer, a stopwatch, and a record of the play-by-play of your sales opportunities. To guarantee your pipeline is working for you, the most important action to take is regular pipeline review.

Do it daily – at least at first. Setting that cadence for yourself, a non-negotiable time, like time set aside for training, will help you to run a faster mile (if you will) or move more efficiently through your sales process. Regular review develops strength in each sales stage and enables you to spy outliers, moving opportunities into the correct sales and pipeline stage. It also helps hone your sales strategy. You’ll ask yourself and your prospects better questions, allowing you to more quickly and easily identify your next moves. Be honest throughout this process; there’s no shame in moving an opportunity back a stage or two, or retiring those that are slowing you down and wasting time.

Sales are played differently by each salesperson. We each have different physical and mental strengths and weaknesses, different approaches to the same race. Like with any endeavor, we learn new strategies by identifying the superstars and emulating their behaviors. Some will work for us, and others won’t, but the key is to keep learning.

What are your pipeline must-do’s? How do they help you to be a better salesperson?

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Sales Strategies: How to Make Your Customers Your Best Salespeople

Looking for great referrals and fresh prospects may be as easy as engaging your best customers as your best salespeople!  Here’s how…

By JHON DOE

As salespeople, we work hard to win new customers. That’s just fine. After all, hard work is part of being a sales professional. Looking for new prospects is also part of the “gig.” At times it’s easy to feel unsure of the new prospecting stone to turn over, the new pond to fish in, the next target to cold call. One of the best places to look for new customers may be one of the last you think about actively building upon – your existing customer base! Here are a few ideas that have helped us attract new prospects because of our highly valued clients while simultaneously validating our “why.”

 

The Power of 5 Star Customer Reviews

A few weeks ago, we highlighted the importance of your personal brand, especially in today’s fast-paced, largely virtual sales world. One area we discussed was building your profile and solidifying your professional reputation on LinkedIn and other social media outlets. Testimonials of your professionalism, knowledge, skill sets, and commitment to customer service help promote your best personal brand. Those online comments, validations, and star ratings can be a deciding factor for prospects who are debating whether or not to reach out.

 

The same concepts apply to your company and its reputation. Customer reviews of your company, the level of service provided, responsiveness, and successful resolution to problems, weigh heavily as prospects conduct searches for partners to fit their needs. Positive reviews represent easy referrals for those in the market searching for providers like you.

 

If you’re not quite sure about this, let’s try a quick experiment. Imagine you’re a potential buyer. Online search is a cinch these days – it’s one of the top two ways people find what they are looking for (the other being direct referrals from friends, colleagues, and peers). Think about the way you look at reviews before purchasing. If you’re like me, typically, I look at the 5-Star review bar first. Is the bar long, indicating there are many in the top category? If so, how many relative to the rest? If not, you’ve moved on without even reading a review!  

 

Are reviews recent? Again, if none are more current than the past 1-2 years, forget it. It’s time to move one. If recent, what do they say? Variety in comments makes a difference, as much as similarity in recognizing satisfaction. For the most part, we probably skip the “in-betweeners” and focus on the 1’s and 5’s. What do the 1-Star reviewers say was so bad? Your best customers are the 5-Star review folks – their 5-Star Reviews will attract fresh, new prospects, who likely are similar to them!  

 

Take action: ask your best customers to leave a raving review of what they liked best about your team on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, or other places you know prospects are searching. Some may not follow through, but all you need are a few to help out. Be sure to set this activity “Request Rave Reviews” in your CRM to occur at least 1X per month. Track your success, noting the leads that came in because of a great review. 

 

Thank the customers who took action on your behalf with a personal thank you note and fun, branded company swag!  Think Yeti coffee mug, sleek puffer vest – useful (and coveted) items they will love and that further promote your awesomeness.

“Thank the customers who took action on your behalf with a personal thank you note and fun, branded company swag! “

Bring Customers Together (Get them talking about you!)

Another great way to make customers your best salespeople is to bring them together. Help them to connect by sponsoring events for them. Some of the best feedback, and most fun we’ve had with our clients, has come from sponsoring events where they connect and have the floor. These are a “win-win” for all. Here are a few ideas you can use to get your customers talking and sharing.

 

● Educational Webinars – ask three customers to be presenters in a 60-minute webinar. Let them share with others how your solutions and services have helped them to solve critical business problems. Peers love to know what others are doing and feel better knowing they share some of the same challenges. They appreciate talking freely about what worked. They also love to find out how other customers are growing and changing successfully with the common link – you!

 

● Customer Appreciation – recognize your customers for their valuable input that has changed how you deliver on their needs. Deliver the message together. Present it via a quick video, a webinar, or at an in-person event. Talk about the challenge and let them share how you resolved it. Praise your customer for bringing this to your attention and working with you to find success. Growing together makes customers great salespeople.

 

● User Groups – invite a fixed number of customers to be a part of your company’s user group, meeting four times annually. Your mission in each meeting is to get them talking about what you are doing well, areas you can improve, and their specific needs you may impact now and into the future. Hearing from your customers in a group setting, letting them talk and express themselves freely, shows you are listening. The next step is to put into action what you agree to do! Believers are great salespeople.

 

● Case Studies – think about the most daunting problems and challenges your customers have brought to you to solve. Identify 3-5 key topics that will resonate with others who are on their buying journey. Case studies that address each issue from the customer’s perspective are no different than “word of mouth” referrals, but with the added advantage that they are easily shared digitally. Case studies should highlight the customer, their story, the problems solved, and their impact. The format may be an interview-style, it may take the shape of a story, or assume a more technical format. Think about what is best for your audience. Before long, you will build a library of customer voices. When your customers speak, prospects listen.  

 

Making your customers your best salespeople recognizes the deep resonance their voices have in validating the hard work you and your team put forth daily to support their success. When those voices are heard, they are the voices of great salespeople!

 

How are you making your customers your best salespeople?

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