What are the the areas that will drive success in your business this year? None is more important (and perhaps more misunderstood) than SALES.
Let’s face it: A bunch of us got into the Managed Services game by first being an engineer. We’re really comfortable with technology, and even managing engineers, but “sales” seems a bit foreign. And actually trying to MANAGE the “sales process” (which may be a bit of a mystery to us in the first place) is a daunting task.
Having started my career as an engineer, then transitioned to sales (direct and channel), then on to sales management, I have first-hand experience with this topic. Even with that background, I don’t claim to have all the answers. Thousands of books, seminars and consulting engagements have addressed “sales management”. However, having spent time in each of the various roles, I’d suggest that you can do yourself (and your reps) a favor by “keeping it simple” and focusing on just a short list of items. In its simplest form, that list should include:
- RESULTS: This is where ALL the “management focus” goes in most cases (if there is any “sales management” at all). “What have you closed this month?”. Yes this is the goal, but this really represents “the end of the journey” for an opportunity. There’s still some conversation that should happen, even at this stage:
- This is marked as “Won”, but do we have the purchase order already? If not, what needs to happen before we get the purchase order?
- We have both revenue and gross margin targets. Does this deal meet BOTH our revenue and margin targets?
- If we don’t have a PO or a legally-binding document, what leads you to believe that this deal is “won”? If the client said they WILL close the deal does NOT mean that you HAVE closed the deal!
- PROGRESS: While “closed revenue” is the end-goal, “closed deals” are built just like engineers complete “project work”: There are steps (i.e. “stages”) that each deal progresses through. Yes, when selling to small companies, you may blast through several stages in what seems like a single step, but the stages are there nonetheless. So managing the process through the stages is critical to future “closed deals”.
- Looking at our sales process, which stage is this deal in?
- What behavior have you seen from the CLIENT that leads you to believe that we are in that stage?
- What needs to happen to move this deal to the next stage? Who needs to take action? What’s preventing us from moving to that stage today?
- What is the “compelling event” for the client that leads you to believe that they WILL move forward with this opportunity? WHY will they spend money on this?
- ACTIVITIES: Activities (phone calls, appointments, seminars, etc.) are those items that position your sales team to begin the “steps” that lead to future revenue. Key factors include:
- Are you talking to the RIGHT prospects?
- Are you engaged in the right type of ACTIVITIES?
- Are you doing ENOUGH of the right kind of activity with the right people that will lead to future sales?
So my recommendation to simplify management of your sales team is to review each of the three areas mentioned above on a regularly scheduled basis (normally every week). Managing sales is the process of making sure that you (and your reps) pay attention to ALL THREE STAGES of the process, not just “the close”. Activities can be logged in ConnectWise and tallied up to provide feedback. Review of “progress” should include a discussion of “Why do you think the client is at THIS stage of the buying cycle? What BEHAVIOR have you seen from the CLIENT that leads you to believe that they are at that stage?”. Deals that were promised to close in March, then April, then May, etc., are symptoms of lack of realistic management of the sales process “stages”.
If your reps are “short” of their revenue goals, they should be very intentional about activities that will drive client engagement, and then managing that client engagement through the sales stages. Key strategy is to build a pipeline of business opportunities that are delivering results today and positioned to deliver predictable results tomorrow.
THE NEW HAVEN APPROACH
At New Haven, we create custom ConnectWise reports in collaboration with our clients, and then include those custom reports as part of the monthly subscription so that all our clients benefit. Here’s a screenshot of a report that we recently created called “Sales Results and Activity Tracker”:
The philosophy of this report is simple:
If you are not hitting your revenue and margin goals…
(left-side of the report)
…then you better be “hitting it out of the park” on activities
…(right-side of the report)
…which will lead to future sales.
At New Haven Technologies, we provide access to information so that you can make data-driven, informed decisions about your MSP business. Our service is provided on a month-to-month basis, and starts with a free two-week trial on your network with your data. We also include customized reporting, dashboards and SmartPhone reports, all at no additional cost as part of the service. If you are interested in learning more, just “reply” to this e-mail, or point your browser to http://www.NewHavenTech.com/GALLERY to see examples of our work. You can sign up for your free two-week trial at http://www.NewHavenTech.com/Trial
Best Wishes for continued success in building your MSP practice!
Founder and Chief Consulting Officer
New Haven Technologies, LLC
Stop Guessing. Start Knowing.