A sales engine is a great strategy to increase the number of closed deals. As a sales manager, how do you build a sales engine to land massive deals for your team?
Nigel Green works with executive investors and sales leaders of companies to help them scale up faster and smarter. As a sales advisor, he works behind the scenes to ensure that leaders are hitting their targets at the end of the year. Nigel understands that if you don’t relentlessly pursue your craft and coach your team well, you won’t be in the game very long.
The revenue harvest
Nigel coined the term, Revenue Harvest, in this sales leader almanac containing the fruits of 15 years of experience. He’s been helping various companies build their sales team faster so investors have a chance to grow their private equity. Sales leaders in this kind of environment need to act fast.
When Nigel moved to a farm, an hour outside of the city, he was able to observe the farming community. He realized that leading a sales team was very similar to tending crops. Both can face circumstances that are outside of our control. The farmer knows he’s got to produce a crop but looking at the year, he wonders when it’s going to be too hot or too cold, when it’s going to rain, or not. These are elements a farmer can’t control but he can’t be paralyzed by the uncontrollable. He’s got to get to work.
In Revenue Harvest, Nigel shows sales leaders how to yield results year-in and year-out that are consistent. Nigel has broken this down into seven principles a sales leader can follow.
Create a plan
The first principle in the Revenue Harvest helps sales leaders understand what a plan really is and how to do it well. Most salespeople don’t have a plan. They’ve been given a plan by their leader but they haven’t pushed back in areas where it’s not realistic. Leaders need buy-in from the influencers on their team and it needs to be implemented in a time period that will be effective, before the first quarter. Sales leaders have a responsibility to not only assign the revenue and targets of the plan to the sales rep, but also to the customers.
The plan also has to account for the metrics that are important to the business. Only the sales leader can make sure that everybody on the team is spending their time well and score-carding. The leader needs to incentivize the team in a way that is aligned with the CEO or COO’s goals. Oftentimes, time isn’t a salesperson’s friend but with planning, time can be used more efficiently.
Planning for adversity
The truth is, most people don’t plan for adversity. We plan the year assuming that everything is going to be perfect. We don’t plan for the person who is going to quit or go on maternity leave and we don’t plan for competitors to launch a new product. Most sales leaders don’t expect adversity but the truth is, it can come when we least expect it.
A real plan accounts for adversity. The first step in planning is to ask when the budget season starts. The budget season is a common language in private equity companies. This season typically falls in September or October. By that time, the heads of the company want to see a completed budget expenses revenue target, if new reps need to be hired, etc.. As a proactive leader, you want to go to the heads of the company to get a sense of what it is they want you to accomplish, what resources they’re going to give you throughout the year and negotiate if it doesn’t sound feasible. Sales leaders have the responsibility of making sure that adequate resources are in play to hit the numbers.
Positioning is two-fold. Before you finalize the sales plan, identify your sales influencers and run the plan by them. No matter how good a plan seems to be, it’s wise to receive feedback from the members of your sales team who know the climate of the sales team and can offer information about whether or not a plan is viable.
No one can predict the future but there are two practices that can help mitigate unforeseen disasters: First, look at what the team has done over the past couple of years in detail. If the business is affected by seasonality, it’s important to look at the history by weeks, maybe even days. Check the spikes during busy seasons. If you’re in retail, Saturdays and Sundays are huge. Look at what was actually accomplished. You tend to create a better plan when you see the circumstances that have influenced your sales historically.
Second, look at the lost selling days. A sales leader needs to figure out how you want to track lost selling days that don’t include national holidays or PTO. An example might be one of your sales team members not being able to meet her customers due to unforeseen circumstances like a snowstorm that shut down all the roads. You need to figure out a mechanism to track these days and start reducing the days you implement into your plan because of these historically lost sales days.
Preventing a mutiny
With every salesperson being different, not all strategies will work for all people. There is still an opportunity to reach people even if you have to contend with bad attitudes. Allow them to sit with you and share their thoughts. Listen to what they have to say even if it’s not something you’re able to implement. Many people just want to be heard and feel they are part of the process.
If you do decide to use their idea, then you have the chance to enlist them in the work and implementation. The team is then positioned well and fortified in areas that you may not have had a lot of influence.
We live in a world of grind and hustle. We all have that influencer we follow for inspiration. This is a world where people are struggling with mental health, addiction, and many other blocks that get in the way of peak performance. This grinding mentality is a slippery slope to some of the real epidemics we’re facing.
A farmer knows he can’t work a piece of land over and over and never let it rest. It needs restoration. It is the same way with people. You can’t work people hard 12 months a year, leave their families, and be on the road without building in time to let them recuperate. Don’t forget to give yourself restoration as well. When everyone comes back, the team is stronger.
We all have the prospecting techniques, the SDR teams, the inbound and outbound, and more. We have a team for every phase but may dwell enough on the in-betweens which include the process, the way we segment the customers to support nurturing the leads, and taking care of our customers until they’re ready to buy.
Segmenting the market
Oftentimes, salespeople create these arbitrary lines of segmentation, these boundary lines that don’t make sense. The best way to segment customers how they buy which is not something that we normally do. Salespeople hand off a customer multiple times which slows down deal velocity. You take them away from someone they love and hand them to a new person at a certain stage of the funnel. This is harder and more frustrating for them. When a customer is ready to buy, let them purchase things the way they want.
“How to build a sales engine that will land massive deals – repeatedly” episode resources
Read the book the Revenue Harvest to learn more. True leadership is about consistency over time, consistency and action, consistency in values, and consistency and execution over time. This is just not in one year, not in one quarter. You have to recognize that your career is a series of seasons and if you don’t treat it that way, you won’t have a very long career.
If you are interested in more sales stories, you can talk to Donald about it. Reach him via these channels: LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook about any sales concerns.
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