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Why Your Sales Performance Sucks

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  1. Why your sales performance and how data can help it suck less An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors

  2. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Some hard truths sales-i.com 2

  3. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors 67% Not only are you missing out on lost sales, you’re also taking a hit by paying for a resource that underperforms month-on-month. Research shows that the average salesperson costs $500 per day to employ. That’s an investment not every wholesaler or distributor can afford without a solid return. But it’s not an easy problem to fix either, especially when the cost of replacing a bad salesperson is said to be an eye-watering $114,957. 39.9% claim to use technology to help with data analysis, but 13.8% still sort through data manually: some salespeople (6%) are still making decisions based solely on gut instinct. To cut a long story short: when salespeople (even the really good ones) don’t use the right information, they can’t perform as well as you need them to. Some don’t have the information at all, some can’t access it fast enough, and some just won’t use it. of salespeople miss their quotas. That’s two thirds of your sales force failing to do what you hired them to do: sell. As problems go, it’s an expensive one. So what’s behind this costly sales performance problem? We spoke with hundreds of wholesale and distribution businesses in North America and Europe to find out. The result? Wholesale and distribution sales teams are making junk calls and going into meetings blind, and it’s hitting your bottom line. One third (33.6%) say their biggest challenge is acquiring timely information to help make a sale, and 28.3% end up wasting time trying to gather data from different systems, in multiple formats. sales-i.com 3

  4. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Junk calls sales-i.com 4

  5. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors 90% With only a 20 second window to raise interest, salespeople need to be able to present clear, relevant information to guide the sale straight from the get-go. Spend an hour listening in on your team’s sales calls and ask yourself which of these is a better representation of what you hear: A of all customer interactions take place over the phone, so it’s incredible to find that so many companies today still fail to make every call count. B 20% 10% 20% 50% 5% 20% 30% 45% Analysis of the perfect golf swing Small talk Discussion of recent weather Anticipating a customer’s needs Predictions for upcoming sporting fixtures Timely up-selling that grows an account Misplaced, mistimed or misjudged sales attempts Smart cross-selling that adds new product lines to an account If the first story sounds more familiar, your salespeople aren’t connecting with your customers where it counts. They’ve got a customer insight problem, which in turn means you’ve got a junk call problem. sales-i.com 5

  6. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Danger Low visibility sales-i.com 6

  7. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Some sales teams are doomed to repeat bad practices like making junk calls for one primary reason: they lack visibility. 49.5% of the companies we spoke with struggle to spot which customers’ orders are dropping and where the next sales opportunities will be. “We were delivering top line information on customer accounts to our salespeople in paper packs monthly, so you can imagine the quantity of paper being generated, posted and handled. Wading through that much information to unearth sales opportunities or changes in buying behavior was simply impossible and the information was out of date by the time the salespeople received it.” Bathroom supplies distributor, UK Of the sellers we spoke to, 16.6% reported that trying to gain visibility into their sales team’s activities was their most significant day-to-day challenge. “We had a sales team writing long monthly reports that offered very few benefits but took a lot of time to create; they had little access to sales data and were flying blind for a lot of the time when it came to selling to our customers.” Tile supplier, UK It’s no wonder only 13% of customers believe that a salesperson can understand their requirements. So how do you turn this situation around and win a customer’s confidence as well as their business? That means salespeople are going into calls blind without the data they need to make meaningful recommendations. The lack of visibility is compounded when managers are unable to keep track of their sales team’s performance; not just which customers they’ve spoken to and when, but exact details about what was sold and for what price. sales-i.com 7

  8. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Restoring sales clarity sales-i.com 8

  9. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors The first step in solving your sales performance problem is recognizing that it’s not your sales team’s fault. A lot of salespeople are set in their old ways. But wholesale and distribution sales is changing, so even really talented salespeople are struggling to perform. To sell today you need insight and agility. You must deliver a smart, personalized and predictive service that’s part sales, part customer service. Which means if your salespeople don’t have the information they need, they’re going in blind. And if you can’t see what your guys are doing, you can’t optimize their performance. Restore sales clarity and you’ll unlock two key advantages: 1. Total vision. You’ll have visibility of your team in the field. Where they’ve been and where they’re headed (and where they should be headed, which isn’t always the same thing). 2. Informed decisions. When you can hold the numbers up to the light, that’s when you turn insight into action. Discover which customers you see the least but sell to the most. Identify weaknesses in your product portfolio. Track how targeted campaigns affect uptake. In short, you’ll be able to use insight to fuel your decision-making. You’ll sell smarter and you’ll sell more. sales-i.com 9

  10. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors It all starts with sales-i.com 10

  11. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Traditionally, when wholesalers and distributors wanted to improve sales performance, they started with everything but the data: they hired new sales reps, invested in training or overhauled processes. Now data is earning recognition as distributors’ and wholesalers’ most valuable asset. By starting with how you organize, use and display your data, you can make a dramatic impact on sales performance. And while you may come up against resistance to change, remember it’s in your sales team’s interest as much as it is yours. No sales professional wants to work harder for longer reeling in little fish when they can sell smarter and catch killer whales. The difference is in the data. We’ve identified five key areas where data can help your sales performance suck less – so your team can sell more, plug leakages and grow your customer base. sales-i.com 11

  12. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Five ways data can help your sales performance suck less sales-i.com 12

  13. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Know your customers “ “We weren’t able to know each and every one of our customers inside out and we have lots of independent accounts, each spending a different amount with us. It wasn’t always the most efficient to spend time preparing individual reports for each of them.” Animal feed manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, UK Delivering the kind of service that grows accounts isn’t possible unless you really take the trouble to know your customers’ buying habits. And simply having this data isn’t enough. If it’s spread across multiple systems and applications, it won’t give you a comprehensive view and you can’t act on it. When you know what you sold – and what you didn’t sell – at all times, you can meet your customers’ needs more exactly. Take the luck out of right-place-right-time sales: find the patterns and anticipate the need. sales-i.com 13

  14. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Make better margins “We were very reliant on manual reporting and counting stuff up on your fingers just wasn’t feasible anymore.” Soil supplier, Ireland Arguably the most important indicator of sales performance and certainly a massive contributor to successful growth, margins are where your data can really make a difference. Sales opportunities wait for no man, so don’t let data hold you up. Have the right information on hand when you need it to make the right offers at the crucial moment. And as well as individual sales, keep an eye on the bigger picture. Do you know which customers you meet the most and sell to the least? And which ones you meet the least and sell to the most? When you do, you’ll know where to focus your efforts next month, next quarter and next year. sales-i.com 14

  15. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Act fast “We had no ability to dive into our sales data, I was going to IT to get reports that were outdated within 24 hours. We needed to be more in tune with what our customers were doing with us.” Restaurant supply, design and fabrication company, USA Whether you’re lining up a new lead or closing a deal, speed can be the difference between a great sale and a missed opportunity. Foresight helps you plan strategic attacks that shorten time-to-sale and data gives you that foresight. Empower your sales teams with mobile solutions so they can act on new information whenever it comes, wherever they are, and close deals faster. With the right systems in place and an organizational culture that treats data as a serious selling tool, you can be agile enough to turn real-time insight into sales. sales-i.com 15

  16. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Spot the sales gaps “Our area sales managers weren’t always up to date with information on their customers and we found it difficult to keep on top of who was ordering what and when.” Natural stone importer, UK This is all about broadening the range that you sell and improving the quality of the return: up-sell to higher margin alternatives or cross-sell to new lines not bought before. To do it well, you need an intimate knowledge of your customers’ requirements and buying habits. Here, what you’re not selling (but should be) is as important as what you are selling. Identify the gaps and use your familiarity with a customer’s behavior to fill that gap with a complementary sale. This is the zone where sales meets service and customer relationships strengthen. sales-i.com 16

  17. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Run smart campaigns “Having information is not an issue, it is the ease and speed with which you can slice, dice and access that information that makes the real difference.” Information management company and contract stationer, USA So you’ve found a cross-sell opportunity by searching your data to see who has ordered a printer from you but not yet bought ink or paper. But identifying a new sales opportunity is only the beginning. You need to run tailored sales campaigns, powered by aggregate and customer-specific data. Even the best-planned campaigns can fail without buy-in. Give your most important initiatives the best chance of success by involving your sales teams from the start and creating some excitement around the campaign. sales-i.com 17

  18. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Quick-fire tips Start with the data In sales today, insight is currency. With the right information at your fingertips, every meeting will be valuable and everything you learn in that meeting is recorded as potential insight for future use. With this information in a CRM system, and analytics software that can manage large volumes of data, you can generate simple reports that give clear answers on what to do next. Record, manage and action your data and you’ll kick start a virtuous cycle of insight and reward. Look back to move forward Let past experience guide future efforts. Find the patterns that will help you predict where your team can really boost performance in future – then invest resources in that direction. Answer six key questions Even when they use smart sales software, too many sales teams have a one-sided view of their customer relationship. They get the contact data (soft data) but they can’t see the hard metrics that lead to decisive action. Make sure you can answer six questions easily. Without an eye on your customers’ past behavior, you won’t be able to spot the orders that shrink or drop off, and you won’t be able to intelligently anticipate future growth opportunities or fill sales gaps as they emerge. Not just: • When did I see you last? • What did we talk about? • When am I seeing you again? Mash it up Data is no good in isolation. To make it actionable, create a single view of your customer that you can manipulate and scrutinize from desktop and mobile devices. Bring together information from your CRM, ERP, billing system, customer data files – wherever it’s stored – and mash it all up into actionable sales insight. Make it findable, accessible, searchable and usable by the people who need it, when they need it – in the office or on the road. Automate the hard work The more data you gather, the harder it will become to keep hold of the ball. No-one can keep track of everything, so let technology do the hard work for you. But also: • What have I sold to you? • What haven’t I sold to you? • What should I be selling to you? Make your life easier with triggered notifications that tell you when opportunities arise so you can act fast to capitalize on them. Likewise, program notifications when any red flags go up. For example, if a long-standing customer fails to make one of its regular orders this month, you can receive a notification straight to your mobile. sales-i.com 18

  19. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors But data is only the beginning sales-i.com 19

  20. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors The wholesale and distribution business is changing. To keep pace, sales teams need to deliver a more personalized, data-driven service. Just having all the right data isn’t enough to make your sales performance suck less. Your sales team needs to know how to access it, manipulate it and put the data to work. If they don’t know, they’ll keep making junk sales calls and missing their targets. For too long this valuable asset has been neglected. It’s time to turn data into insight and use it to drive sales. Could data help your sales performance suck less? sales-i.com 20

  21. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors Further Reading For more on why wholesalers and distributors need business intelligence to stay ahead of the competition, download our white papers now. sales-i.com 21

  22. An honest guide for wholesalers & distributors About sales-i We are the world leader in sales performance management for distributors and wholesalers. Our sales performance software integrates transaction data in your ERP and billing systems with information on your customers, so you can discover new sales opportunities, up-sell to higher margin alternatives and cross-sell to lines they haven’t bought before. And because we make it all available on any mobile platform, the insight is used where it makes a decisive difference – with your sales reps on the phones and on the road. The result: insightful selling that’s personalized, profitable and always fuelled by data. sales-i.com