8 reasons why ditching spreadsheets will help you sell more
For many businesses, learning how to double sales through establishing an efficient sales process can be the difference between success and failure.
To be successful, companies which sell to other companies (“business-to-business”), need a streamlined process for finding prospects, qualifying opportunities and converting sales. Depending on the sector, these processes can be time-consuming and error-prone and as a result, have a direct impact on sales performance.
The problem of lack of resources
A further constraint on many businesses is the lack of resources to dedicate to this process. For early-stage businesses, the founder or executive team are often heavily involved in meeting prospects and closing sales. Whilst they may have an innate ability to win new customers, they can quickly become a constraint on growth.
However, recruiting salespeople is fraught with difficulties. For managing directors, the first sales hire is often the most difficult to get right. Salespeople, by their very nature, are experts at closing deals – including jobs for which they may not be fully qualified. Likewise, most salespeople need an infrastructure in order to deliver great results. They may need leads generated by marketing, product demonstrations by the product team and the MD involved in more strategic negotiations.
Research indicates that over 90% of small companies use spreadsheets to manage their sales processes. It is often perceived as ‘free’, easily accessible and easy to use. Spreadsheets such as MS Excel, Google Sheets and SmartSheets can be a great solution for small companies who manage a small number of leads and have limited reason to collaborate.
However, using spreadsheets to manage your sales process, can be one of the costliest decisions you make. In reality, the difficulty of building, maintaining and updating the base spreadsheet is often a hidden cost and presents unacceptable risks to business leaders. Not only that, busy salespeople don’t always keep the data accurate or up to date and as a result put your business at serious risk of sending the wrong message to the wrong contact or failing to connect with a hot prospect in a timely manner.
How to double sales
Switching from spreadsheets can double your sales capacity, without needing to employ another sales head. That’s right, with the right tools in place, you can achieve more in less time. You can double your effectiveness, whilst working the same hours – or enjoy more leisure time whilst still hitting your numbers.
And, if you’re smart, you can double your business sales capacity at no extra cost. By working smarter, you can minimise burdensome administration, eliminate the manual menace of email, spend less time on wasted phone calls, eradicate the need to respond to clients out of hours and simply spend your time building relationships, negotiating and closing deals.
Here’s how to double sales without employing another salesperson:
1. What problem does your product solve?
How well do you understand what problems your product or service solves? Spend time with existing customers to get to know what challenges and constraints they face and what their solution options are. They have more choices than you think. Get a good understanding of how your prospective customer goes about making their decisions and quantify the impact of making the right or the wrong choice. What does the specific challenge cost their business – this could be in terms of time wasted or invested, monetary cost such as a premium price paid. Get a good understanding of what qualitative pain your customers experience – poor service, lack of data, and delays are all problems that your product may be able to solve. By defining how your product or service addresses customer pain points, you are on the first step to doubling your sales output. Your team should live and breathe the problems in order to find the ‘best fit’ customer opportunities.
2. Focus on Best Fit Customers
Sure, your product or service can help many different customer profiles. However, to ramp up sales whilst reducing wasted time, you need to focus on finding and converting customers that meet your ideal customer profile. By getting a deep understanding of your customer’s pain points, you’ll be able to describe which customers will benefit most from your solution. The bigger the impact you can demonstrate to these customers, the more likely you are to win their business and the higher the price they will pay. Avoid prospects that will cost you time and money to convert to a customer or support over the lifetime of their account. Focus on customers where you get to make money.
3. Document Your Processes
We all sell differently. In fact, ask 3 salespeople selling the same product for the same company and it’s likely they will all follow different processes. Some will proactively call cold leads or follow up on every enquiry immediately, while others will simply focus on the higher win ratio deals. The third step in your journey to sales efficiency is to document your process. Start with your customer journey, what steps do they go through in order to select your product? Speak to existing and prospective customers. Talk to marketing and your customer services teams. Identify each step, and agree on terminology such as what is a ‘lead’ and how you know when a prospect is ‘qualified’. Really get to know what steps customers go through when buying your product, then map this process into your sales engagement software. Of course, each sales process needs to adapt to the client’s opportunity, but having a pre-defined best practice process will not only ensure that critical milestones are met (eg a product demonstration or proposal approval), but each step is tracked and auditable. Perfect for improving efficiencies.
4. Get your Data in One Place
One of the biggest challenges that many businesses face is that they lack a single, centralized view of their prospect and client data. Often this is a direct symptom of using spreadsheets or using email as a communication tool. Both can quickly get out of date, resulting in information silos and errors. Get up-to-date, accurate and complete information about your best-fit customers. Spell their name correctly, get their current email address, and check their current job title. Forget trying to update your sales spreadsheet on your mobile phone. Use a mobile-friendly sales engagement platform. Using a sales engagement platform for this critical process makes life quicker and easier. Firstly, the software prompts salespeople to enter information correctly and into the right fields. Selected fields are mandatory so you can eliminate the pain of needing to make an urgent call without knowing the phone number. As sales engagement tools are cloud-based and collaborative, every update you or your colleagues make results in live improvements in the accuracy of your data. Now can your spreadsheet do that? And another bonus – having your customer’s data sitting in a GDPR-compliant software platform will not only remove data privacy risks to your business, but it will also show to your customers that you’re a professional organization that values their data.
5. Right message, right time
One of the biggest bug-bears salespeople have about spreadsheets and emails are that they have to craft each message one by one. It’s a huge drain on time and one that a sales engagement platform can deliver 80% time savings. Rather than using email clients to handwrite a follow-up email, or to chase up a cold prospect, a sales engagement platform has a bunch of tricks up its sleeve. Marketers and salespeople can upload and share content such as product brochures, price lists, brochures and other useful information. Sharing this with prospective customers simply requires a couple of clicks. Another time-saving benefit is setting up email templates for all key processes (responding to a meeting request, following up an enquiry, chasing a cold prospect). Automating these steps using a sales engagement platform can free up hours every day.
6. Work as a Team
For a business with just one or two sales executives, spreadsheets and a good memory can be more than adequate. However, once the team grows to more than 2 or the number of prospects exceeds a manageable number, then you need a sales engagement platform. A sales engagement platform makes sure that teams collaborate more efficiently and as a result, deliver higher performance. Depending on how your team works, your sales engagement platform can allow for account-based selling, territory management, category focusses or simply allow for competitive selling. And don’t forget, a sales engagement platform can be accessed 24×7 from any browser. So, your team can share accurate and up-to-date information when working from home, while on the road or even while on-site with the customer. No matter which route you go, a sales engagement platform can eliminate the data silos in your current sales spreadsheets.
7. Never miss an opportunity to sell
Keeping on top of every step in every sales cycle for every prospect is an administration nightmare. Miss one step and who knows, your competitor steps in and your boss asks you why you missed out on the deal. Not good. The right sales engagement platform is your helpful assistant that never forgets, never sleeps and never goes off sick. Perform the daily tasks, without lifting a finger. Get more done in less time. By setting up your sales engagement platform correctly, you will be able to set workflows to keep in touch with prospects and customers, even when you sleep. Get a real-time view of every message and meeting with each prospect. Check instantly to see if your colleagues have been in touch to avoid duplication of effort. You can be more responsive than your competitors and answer questions out of hours. By freeing up your time from manual tasks, you can spend more time building relationships, negotiating opportunities and closing deals. Rely on your sales engagement platform. It’s your proactive sales assistant.
8. Use data to improve performance
Using a sales engagement platform has another, more compelling benefit. All of your team’s data is visible instantly. Co-workers and line managers can check on performance, keep on top of bottlenecks and track opportunities in real-time. So, the good news is, your overall team performance will improve immeasurably. The lower-performing team members can get the help they need to improve their sales and generate more income, while the sales leaders can drive up their earning power by reducing inefficiencies. Managers can set and monitor targets against actuals in order to report accurately across the business and the entire team can align to deliver increased sales and improved margins. Data when its visualized can transform performance. Seeing a visual graphic of sales versus target is often a more powerful motivator than simply a table of numbers. Showing a salesperson’s daily tasks visually just brings the day alive and drives improvements across the board. Now, if you’re still in ‘spreadsheet land’, you could always ask your spreadsheet wizard to create a dashboard, import and validate the data, password protect relevant sections or pages, decide who the spreadsheet should be shared with and then hope that someone looks and acts on the output……. or you could spend time closing deals.