• Duane Cashin

3 Quick Sales Strategies To Stay on Track For 2020

How did we get to the second week of March so quickly? It feels like just yesterday we were wrapping up 2019 and preparing for the year ahead. Time goes faster with each passing year, or so it seems.

Professionally speaking, how would you sum up 2020 so far? Better than ever, or is there still room for improvement?

Quite likely, the latter is true, that there’s still something missing in 2020, part of your sales process you wish you could improve to increase closing ratios and margins this year and really move the needle on sales.

There are no “quick fixes” in sales, but, in general, the following three strategies are steps you can implement now to continue moving 2020 in a positive direction.

1. Be very specific about what goes into your pipeline.

Too often, sales teams underperform because they’re wasting time and effort on leads that will never convert into sales. This happens when there is no common standard as to what constitutes a qualified prospect. Salespeople think they’re doing the right thing by entering every person they’ve ever spoken to into the pipeline, but what they’re really doing is polluting the pipeline with junk leads and wasting precious time. Remember, a bloated pipeline isn’t a good thing.

A qualified opportunity is one where a) the buyer has a compelling reason to buy and you are the one to solve it, b) your salesperson has discussed money with the prospect and determined an appropriate budget is available to solve that problem, and c) a mutually agreed-upon timeline has been determined for either a “yes” or “no” answer.

With these standards in place, your team will have a much better sense of which opportunities are worth investing time and energy in, and you’ll be able to more accurately predict sales revenue.

2. Continually clean up your pipeline.

Now that you know what qualifies a prospect, you can take the steps to “pull the weeds” from your pipeline. Just note that this has to be a continuous part of your sales process and not a “one and done” event.

Salespeople are often attached to their leads and get very good at coming up with reasons for leaving inactive ones in the pipeline. But, as we’ve established, a cluttered pipeline skews sales forecasts and slows down the process of replacing dead leads with live ones.

If a lead has been in the pipeline for a period longer than your normal sales cycle, and it’s not moving forward to the next step in your sales process, assume the lead is no longer qualified. Either move it back a phase in your pipeline tracking process or remove it. If it’s really moving forward, the prospect will be willing to set up a clear, time-driven decision timeline for a “yes” or “no” answer (back to strategy #1). Until that happens, however, the salesperson is responsible for replacing this unqualified lead with enough prospecting activity to generate a qualified replacement.

Remember, you can only close prospects that have a “compelling reason to buy” and are convinced that you can help them, have the money to pay for your solution, and are willing to share their decision-making process with you. Every other lead is unqualified.

3. Avoid desperate last-minute attempts to close deals.

Using discounting (“What if I take 20% off this price?”) and impending events (“This is the last day to get this deal!”) is a terrible way to try and close sales. These tactics erode your margins and send messages of desperation to prospects -- messages that convey the exact opposite of the professional impression you want to give. Worse, both of these tactics erode your sales team’s ability to sell your value and put doubt in your team’s mind that what they’re selling is really worth what you’re charging.

While it’s okay to create urgency in the discussion, desperate, last-ditch effort promotions are not the way to do it. Instead, continue to revisit the prospect’s compelling reason to buy and the organizational pain and financial cost they’ll experience in not addressing the issue.

We’re just a few months into the new year. It’s a great time to make a change, and implementing these proven strategies into your sales process is the perfect way to start.

Ready to take your numbers even further? Give us a call.

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