There’s no question:
Improving the effectiveness of sales teams is a top priority for sales managers everywhere.
But there’s only 24 hours in day, and a million (and one) things you have to stay on top of:
Maybe you’re facing more “No’s” than ever. Or the churn rate of your sales people is climbing higher and higher.
But you don’t have the time to deal with that, because you’re stretched to your limits hiring new reps, managing the pipe and making sure your team is closing deals and hitting their numbers.
It’s more than most managers can handle.
That’s why I teamed up with Steve Ammann, Managing Director of the Sales MEDDIC Group, to put together some action items to help sales managers overcome the number one problem facing every sales team:
The Biggest Issue Sales Teams Face…
According to Steve, there is one major, burning issue that prevents sales teams from closing more deals:
The time it takes to qualify opportunities.
The problem that most inexperienced reps have is that they struggle to understand which opportunities have a high chance of closing and which don’t. Plus they’re afraid to lose deals if they don’t chase them all at once.
They end up working 20 deals at once, getting nowhere on all of them, and submit bogus deals to a forecast that ends up falling apart at the end of the quarter.
Now compare that to top performers:
Great sales reps know how to properly qualify their leads and opportunities. They end up working on a maximum of 5-6 solid deals at a time.
Because they spend more time focusing on fewer (but higher quality deals), the deals they forecast have a significantly higher chance of closing.
And while many managers can trust their top performers to run on ‘auto-pilot’ to bring in a steady stream of reliable income, they have to spend an enormous amount of time working with the rest of the team just to make sense of what they are working on.
Some Not-so-nice Math
Here’s a little equation that Steve put together:
Let’s say it takes a good sales manager about 20 minutes to dismantle a deal with a rep and qualify it – in or out.
Even if you’ve only got 6 reps on your team, that’s:
6 reps X 20 opportunities X 20 minutes = 2400 minutes
That’s 40 hours worth of work – or almost an entire week just qualifying deals!
No sales manager I know has that much time on their hands.
And that’s exactly why qualification usually falls short. It’s wedged in between all the other fires that managers have to put out every single day.
As a result, forecasts erode faster than a Saharan sand dune, reps end up riding ‘dead horses’ all the way to the end of the quarter, and every deal that slips puts your quota more and more at risk.
(Not to mention the maxed-out technical and legal teams screaming at you for working hours on another deal that didn’t go through.)
So what can you do?
The two things every sales organization needs
According to Steve, there are two things every sales organization needs to qualify more effectively and increase their close rate:
Visibility and a common language.
Here’s what he means:
Having visibility means understanding at a glance whether a deal has a chance to close or not. Without needing to spend 20 minutes trying to figure our where a deal stands.
A Common Language
When reps and managers have a structured, repeatable method for qualifying their deals (based on proven best practices), they have a common language that lets them quickly dig down into the fundamentals of an opportunity:
Did you get the Decision Criteria?
Have you established the Metrics by which they measure success?
Have you met their Economic Buyer yet?
Boom. Boom. Boom.
That way you can rapidly sort out the right deals and get your reps to focus exclusively on these.
Plus a common language for qualification allows sales teams to easily communicate and organize the right next steps to quickly drive deals to closure.
Faster Qualification = More Closed Deals
According to Steve, sales managers that have a sales qualification methodology in place qualify deals up to 3X faster and increase their close rate by 40-50%.
In fact, when I first started working with the MEDDIC sales methodology, I improved my team’s performance 60% year after year, and almost immediately jumped to a 92% close rate.
All from simply understanding how to filter out the rotten deals and focus all our time and energy on securing the good ones.
Try it yourself…
Here’s one exercise I implemented at the beginning of my career as a sales manager that really opened my eyes to the value of properly qualifying:
First, take a look at all the opportunities you had in your forecast last quarter.
Now take a spreadsheet and write down the deal name, the size of the deal, and whether you closed it or not. Then add a column to enter whether your met the Economic Buyer or not.
(The EB is the ultimate decision maker. The one with the discretional right to approve and sign off a deal. Even in deals with multiple decision makers, there’s always 1-2 who ultimately wield the most influence).
Now check the deals that were won, lost, slipped or dramatically decreased in size. Do you see a correlation between the deals where you met the EB and the ones where you didn’t?
I bet you did 😉
(For us, in 5 out of 6 deals we closed, we had met the EB. In 6 out of 7 deals that slipped or didn’t close, we didn’t meet the EB).
I personally did this exercise after a horrible Q4 close.
The results were clear, and I never again let my reps move forward on a deal without meeting the EB.
In fact, the deals where my reps met with the EB, obtained his personal criteria for success, and confirmed his sponsorship consistently had a 90% chance of closing!
That’s why according to Steve, if you want to spend less time chasing deals and more time closing them, having clear visibility and sharing a common language are absolutely must-haves. That way you can be sure you’ll only be spending your valuable time on the deals that have the highest chance of closing.
About Steve Amman
Steve has worked in B2B complex selling environments for 25 years. He has specialized in the MEDDIC qualification methodology and is a founder and managing partner of the Sales MEDDIC Group with his partner, Jack Napoli. If you want to develop more visibility and a common language to help you close more deals, get in touch with him today.
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