I have been reading various articles about the lack of sales forecasting accuracy and that the implementation of CRM systems could be part of the sales prevention problem in B2B sales, and it got me thinking that both of these problems could be tackled if there are clear directions towards getting the sale. We need a sales road map, or using technology a sales satnav.
To try and help in understanding how B2B businesses can optimise their sales performance, I have developed a simple B2B prospect rating scale template, which you can download (click here) and adapt to your business.
The definitions are there as a guidance, so it is up to you whether you use ‘suspect’, ‘prospect’, and ‘hot prospect’ as the labels for the various bands within the pipeline, and also whether you use the percentage milestones indicated or choose your own, as simple as 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%.
With any journey you need to find out about the route that you are going to undertake and what you could meet on the way. Firstly we must have an understanding of how our potential customer is going to buy. What does he or she do during this journey? If we look at the spreadsheet the top part is labelled ‘Buyer’ and maps out the criteria that the buyer will be considering during his or her buying cycle. Think about the most productive sales that you were involved in and map out what route you think your prospect was undertaking.
Knowing the journey that your buyer is to undertake, what do you plan to do to help him along that journey? The row labelled ‘Supplier’ shows the criteria that we as the supplier would want to achieve in this process. In the main it is about getting the buying cycle and the selling cycle as much in line as is possible, so that the journey is as smooth as possible.
The row labelled ‘Interaction’ is there so that we can confirm by actual activity that we have arrived at a certain point within our journey. It could be as simple as the client acknowledging that they have an issue that they are going to address in the next couple of months and would like you to meet with them to begin the process of understanding their requirements.
At the bottom of the spreadsheet is the ‘Timeline’. Not only do we want to make the sale, but we would like to achieve it in a timely manner so that we can meet our personal and business goals.
All satnavs not only give you details about the route, but they also tell you how long it could take, so why not through down the challenge and see if you can do it in the time that has been specified?
Please remember that this is a template, whether it is in a spreadsheet or in a CRM system and therefore should be used for guidance. Not all customers will buy in three months, but it is a good indicator if they buy between two and four months, the average being three months. Modify your template if the average time is six months otherwise this map will be of no help to you. The key thing is review and refine as you go along and keep it simple. It is better to start with a simple map and add to it as you travel the route than to produce a map that is hard to understands and therefore people will not use it.