As we've presented in past stories on the AQUA site, there are 12 company crushing killers that siphon the life out of otherwise healthy businesses — we call them the Deadly Dozen. They could be draining your business' vitality right now. We're calling them out one by one.
RELATED: 12 Company-Crushing Killers – Part 1
RELATED: 12 Company-Crushing Killers – Part 2
Last time, we talked about poor strategies in messaging, video and follow-up. Today, we address inadequate planning in sales and the extreme importance of measuring your progress with accurate data.
COMPANY KILLER #7 - WASTING YOUR SALES TEAM
Are your salespeople spinning their wheels making cold calls, searching out prospects and trying to coax reluctant or poorly qualified prospects to buy? These frustrating tasks consume massive amounts of time and talent, but don't do a lot to close deals.
Technology has fundamentally changed sales. In a previous era, a salesperson's first job was to introduce a product or service to prospective clients. Today's consumers have easy access to vast amounts of information, not all of it relevant or accurate. Instead of needing or welcoming an introduction to a product or service, they are bombarded by multi-channel advertising at every turn and have learned to quickly hit the delete button out of sheer self-defense, particularly if the messages are irrelevant, generic or poorly timed.
As a result, salespeople can work harder than ever with fewer positive results — a recipe for burnout. Burnout typically offers two possible outcomes: Either a frustrated employee blames the company and jumps ship, or the company blames the employee and lets him go. Either way the company is faced with locating, hiring and training a replacement — an expensive solution that doesn't address the problem at all.
Modern selling is not a reactive, one-off event, especially in today's market. It's a proactive process that builds a relationship with your prospect early in the buying cycle. Done improperly, it impedes trust in your company and inhibits understanding of your product and its benefits. As a result, your sales reps find themselves trying to persuade or convince a prospect who isn't ready to buy, and may never be.
This is a huge turn-off for the prospect, misuses the salesperson's valuable time and is a major contributor to underperformance and sales fatigue. It doesn't do anything for the bottom line, either.
The problem here is not your sales team, it's your process. With the right strategic process in place, your rock stars and even average salespeople would begin generating incredible results. The company would see more sales, more income and more loyalty. Total win.
The key is to eliminate non-revenue-generating activities and repetitive manual tasks. Free your salespeople to focus on working with prospects who are the most qualified and ready to buy — what you hired them to do in the first place.
Automation will handle mundane tasks so that you and your sales team can focus on closing deals. Sales process automation systemizes activities, tasks and documentation, allowing for a smoother workflow and increased performance. It also avoids the human error that so often accompanies repetitive, routine tasks and lifts the burden of cold calling and haphazard sales processes.
A few years ago, a study on the Harvard Business Review suggested that you're 60 times more likely to qualify a lead if you follow up within one hour, compared to waiting 24 hours. Because your team has time for that.
With automation, you can be sure that every hot lead is followed up right away. Whether at 8 p.m. on a Friday evening or 6 a.m. on a Sunday, your automation system can be hard at work when your team is not.
When Capterra implemented an automated process, they found their sales qualification rate went up 400%, largely due to a combination of faster follow-ups and increased sales efficiency. Automation converts your prospect's PC, tablet or mobile-device into your best salesperson.
So with automation in your arsenal, you get the equivalent of hiring an invisible sales force to work full-time around the clock, you see increased revenues and overall growth, you connect with the prospect earlier in the buying cycle and you have better control over how your product is presented.
COMPANY KILLER #8 - NON-STANDARDIZED SALES PRESENTATIONS (A.K.A. WINGING IT)
A critical component of selling is indoctrination — educating your prospects on what your company is all about and what makes it stand out. This step is often overlooked or left up to the salesperson during their initial (and sometimes only) sales pitch.
An improperly presented indoctrination inhibits complete understanding of the benefits of your product, impedes trust in your company and may prevent a prospect ever becoming a customer.
But sales reps are human, so presentations can vary, as can your critical message. And since they're not identical, you really have no way to determine exactly what is working and what isn't, which makes tweaking presentations risky. Without some degree of standardization, you have no way to measure the effectiveness of individual components of a presentation — and no way to improve it.
A uniformly consistent demo experience is your best defense against this enemy. Delivering a carefully crafted demonstration that incorporates video to each prospect ensures they have all the information they need to make faster, more confident purchase decisions. It ensures your message is delivered properly every time, so you know nothing has been left out or overlooked.
Client-centric videos deliver a conversion rate four to five times higher than the typical conversion rate. Since video goes into more detail and engages your prospect with specific information, it has a directed impact that a more generalized presentation lacks.
Every salesperson should use the strategized process every time, but a standardized process does not mean a standardized sales team. Preparing a presentation will take much less time, offering the opportunity to incorporate your team's best ideas and innovations into the process. The results of these innovations will then be quantifiable and measurable, so your process can be continually refined and improved across the board.
COMPANY KILLER #9 - INVISIBLE DATA
You can't judge what you can't see.
Measurable data determines the success of any marketing campaign. Quantifiable data, gleaned through precise tracking and monitoring of expenditures as well as responses, indicates objectively what works and what doesn't. Without it you'll never know what's working.
For example, if the marketing team is capturing hundreds of leads but none of them are being nurtured to become "sales-qualified leads," the marketing department needs to receive instant and impartial feedback so they can improve their nurturing campaigns. This reduces unpleasant conversations and creates accountability for staff and departments to ensure that they are performing effectively. Opinion can be disputed, but numbers don't lie.
Data shows not only which campaigns worked, but what type of customer they worked for, enabling you to create in-depth reports and fine-tune your marketing efforts. Realtime visibility lets you analyze and tweak your strategies to maximize results, giving you the opportunity to abandon tactics that haven't resulted in increased sales and step up the ones bringing in more leads and conversions.
If you have several marketing campaigns active at the same time, detailed data reports determine which direction each is heading, allowing you to analyze every aspect. This information allows you to direct the focus of your marketing resources for maximum impact on your profit margin.
Without this data, you're dead in the water. You can eventually judge the success of a campaign by the orders it generates, but you won't know why it succeeded — or where it failed.
To win this battle you need a good intelligence network.
As the general of your business, you have a million and one things on your plate. There are simply not enough hours in the day for you to thoroughly analyze statistical data from your current marketing campaign. But every good general relies on his intelligence network to keep him up to date.
The more you understand your customer, the more targeted and strategic your communications. Once you've identified a marketing campaign that works well for one customer segment, you can adapt for another. This is a task that requires real-time visibility to help you make the best decisions.
You need the highlights reel, a crystal ball, telling you exactly what decisions to make in your business through advanced reporting options.
A strategic automated marketing funnel will do just that. You can receive detailed reports pinpointing new marketing opportunities, customer segmentation response progress and data integration for any campaign you are currently running. With this information, you can easily review the data and make critical marketing decisions before moving on to your next task. You'll know exactly what's working and what needs to change and can make on-the-spot decisions to optimize your efforts.
You need to cultivate your intelligence network by partnering with an expert who can provide real-time, 24/7 data to utilize in your decision-making process.
With nine of the Deadly Dozen identified and accounted for, next month we'll be back with the last three business killers and the series finale.
Todd Gregorcic is a founder and managing partner of Diacom, whose flagship product is an end-to-end customer acquisition system for pool companies called CyberFunnels (www.CyberFunnels.com/pool contractor). He can be reached at (800) 579-5914 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brett Lloyd Abbott is the founder and CEO of Pool Builder Marketing LLC (www. PoolBuilderMarketing.com), a marketing consulting agency that works exclusively with swimming pool builders, pool service companies, and high-end landscape professionals throughout the world. He is a frequent keynote speaker and leader of workshops and seminars throughout the world.