We’ll repeat something we’ve always said – customers are the lifeline of any business.
Without customers, there is no business. Without repeat customers, a business becomes almost impossible to sustain.
This is why it’s critical to pursue sales opportunities with care. Technology like CRM and marketing automation tools, resources on the internet, and financial systems can help you improve your processes.
But the bulk of the work – feeding data into the systems and analyzing it – has to be done by people. This means an important aspect of opportunity management is to track it to ensure that things move according to plan.
Opportunity Management enables salespeople and sales managers to strategize, execute, and track a multi-stage sales process. Rather than trying to metrics like manage revenue and margins, salespeople can streamline these activities, which, in turn, will positively impact revenue forecasts and numbers.
But in the process, many businesses commit sales mistakes that adversely impact their potential to close an opportunity.
Here are some of them.
1. Not Measuring Metrics
Will you leave customer acquisition to luck? I can hear your answer is a resounding, “No!” Yet, this is one of the most common sales mistakes many companies make.
They leave activities like Call Management, Planning, and multi-stage Opportunity Management to the salesperson. In other words, the whole customer acquisition process is a game of chance. And this is a dangerous game to play.
It’s important to not just plan the calls and opportunities with your salespeople, but also important to track whether they’re adhering to the plan. This will keep them accountable, help you identify where they’re stuck, and remove bottlenecks to move the process forward.
2. Measuring the Wrong Metrics
Many sales leaders who want to track the opportunity-management process focus all their attention on the sales pipeline. When the sales pipeline shrinks, they just tell their salesperson to work harder.
This is like a doctor telling a patient who’s gaining weight to become healthier. If the person knew how to do it, he would’ve become healthy by himself and not have to approach the doctor.
Here’s the fact. There is no specific process to manage a sales pipeline. The only metrics that can be managed (and that will affect a sales pipeline) are Opportunity Management and Call Management. The sales pipeline is just aggregated data of the salesforce’s opportunities and calls.
3. Designing Complex Processes
The goal of planning an opportunity is not to document all information about a chance, but to ensure structured thinking to pursue it.
Most plans and processes fail even though they look great on paper because they’re too complex to follow. Leaders and directors design them behind closed doors and add more and more variables until they’ve covered all angles.
But such complicated plans become challenging to implement on the ground and get abandoned. And rather than trying to understand what’s going wrong and simplifying the process, leaders end up spying on their people to see whether they’re working or not.
The more burdensome planning becomes, the less compliant sales reps will be towards the process. Keep Opportunity Management processes streamlined and simple, and focus on the goal, which is to enable quicker and better selling.
4. Making Reviews an Annual Event
A plan is nothing without action. A mediocre plan executed well is far better than a brilliant plan executed poorly.
Many companies invest a lot of time in account planning towards the end of a calendar year and leave them collecting dust on the shelves like annual reports. Had the plans been executed as well as the solid work that went into them, the business could’ve made at least 50 percent more revenue. And 50 percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing.
Opportunity Management is an iterative process. It’s true that most planning occurs at the end (or the beginning) of a year. But it shouldn’t get carved in stone. It should be ongoing, like a living document. Keep conducting periodic reviews to collect feedback and tweak the processes so that they can achieve their ultimate goals – better sales.
If something is essential for your business, do it. It makes no sense pursuing activities that don’t get you anywhere by compromising the activities that can get you high returns for your investment.
Over to You
What do you think are common sales mistakes that sales leaders and salespeople make? How do you think they can be rectified?
Do leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.