Take a moment today to ask the top producers in your company to break down their days for you and detail how they spend their time. You’ll probably find that what they do every day (and even how they do it) varies from person to person. But among all the differences, I’m sure you’ll spot one common thread: a process. Top salespeople have a strategy—and they stick to it.
During a call with one of our clients a few weeks ago, she mentioned that her company was really struggling to bring in new business. I’m not a sales consultant, but I do know a bit about that area after spending eight years as the director of sales for a staffing company. I also know (as I mentioned last week) that Mamu Media can’t succeed unless our clients succeed (whether or not their success is attributed to our services). So we decided to extend our call to see if we could get to the root of the client’s problem.
Me: Why don’t you start off by telling me how your sales team sources new leads and converts them into appointments and eventually new business?
Client: Well, we spend a lot of time recruiting, because many of the jobs we have are tough to fill. However, when things slow down a bit, a few of my recruiters will pick up the phone to call current clients and some prospects to see if they have any jobs they’d like for us to fill.
It didn’t take me long to realize that this company was suffering from the lack of a sales process (not to mention the lack of a sales culture!). Over the 30 years it’s been in business, this company somehow managed to survive on a handful of key accounts and longstanding relationships. For three decades it’s struggled to grow, and the owners and managers are only now starting to realize just how fragile their business is.
Although this is an extreme example of “how not to do sales,” even companies with sophisticated sales strategies can learn the most valuable lesson here: any company that wants to succeed must have a specific and measurable sales process in place. Waiting until the end of the year to make a push to hit your numbers never works. And waiting until your job orders have dried up before pursuing new ones is flat-out irresponsible.
There’s no one-size-fits-all process that works for every company—or even for each salesperson within a company. You’ll need to tailor your sales processes for your organization as well as for the individuals involved. The most important point to remember is that you have to have a process and the related results and activities must be measured.
Based on my experience, I’ve found that successful sales processes generally include the following measurable elements:
Lead generation and qualification. Also known as “prospecting,” this needs to be part of your daily routine. To increase leads in staffing sales, some innovative strategies can help you stand out from the crowd. And once you’ve identified some promising leads, keeping the right questions in mind can help you avoid wasting your time (and your clients’) when qualifying them.
Presentations. Whether you’re presenting an awesome candidate to a hiring manager via skill marketing or presenting your company to the C-suite at a Fortune 500 company, every presentation has the potential to lead to a sale. Never underestimate the importance of presentations: make sure you’re good at them.
Tracking new business and growing existing accounts. Incorporating “track new business” into the process is a no-brainer for anyone in sales. But many companies often forget about their ability to grow existing business. Chances are that if you look at your list of active clients, you’re competing with other staffing companies for most of them. So start tracking (and rewarding!) growth in your existing business by expanding relationships into other departments or winning a greater share of the business that you currently share with competitors.
Staying connected between the calls and meetings. Whether you make phone calls, share interesting articles via social media or e-mail, or reach out via other forms of communication, you must stay top of mind with the clients and prospects you’re calling on. Some sales processes can take a loooong time, and from the moment you have your first conversation with a prospect to the time you close the sale, there’s a good chance that many of your competitors will be having similar conversations with your prospects.
Use the items on this list as the foundation of your sale process, then customize it with other strategies that work for you and your organization. Whatever final shape your process takes, though, use it consistently and be sure you measure its effectiveness at regular intervals (e.g., weekly and monthly) so you know when changes are needed.