The holidays can be a roller coaster for sales reps. One week it’s impossible to get anyone on the phone and the next week the phone doesn’t stop ringing. When things slow down at the office, it’s the perfect time to perform a quick 4 step sales checkup. This quick checkup will help you kick off the new year on the right track. I’ve outlined some key indicators that you’ll want to keep track of. Improvements in these areas will have a direct impact on the bottom line.
1. Evaluate Template Performance
Do you have a set of go-to email templates that you use on a consistent basis? If you don’t, use templates at all in your sales process, you’ll want to add these first. Once you’re routinely using email templates in your sales process, constantly evaluate their effectiveness. What are the open rates like? Is there a clear call to action in the email? If you’re looking for template ideas, here’s 101 sales email templates to help you get inspired.
The key metrics related to email template performance are open rate and click rate. Make adjustments to the subject line to move the open rate. While a cold email can have a 15% open rate, shoot to get above 30%. Short subject lines that are to the point usually do the trick. Don’t over think it, just ask yourself, “what would make me open this email?”
Click Rate is a bit harder to improve. First you’ll want to review your email template to make sure there’s one clear call to action. Start asking for multiple clicks at once and you’re going to get yourself in trouble. Every additional link beyond your call to action is an opportunity for your prospect to not click on your call to action. This includes email signatures too.
While an elaborate email signature might look nice with links to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook, you’re giving your prospect the chance to do something other than click on your call to action.
It’s also a good idea to review the messaging of the email. What’s the tone like? Is it conversational or do you sound like a robot? Speak in an authentic voice, your prospects want to buy from you.
2. Revise Lead Scores
Lead and Deal scores are a perpetual work in progress. For those not familiar with Lead and Deal scoring, it’s the concept of assigning weights to different variables. For example, a CEO or VP would be given a score of 10 while an entry level employee would get a score of 2. Then the BDR would call the leads with the most points first. As you can imagine, these scoring formulas can get quite complex.
When things slow down at the end of the year, it’s time to review your scoring variables. Are the weights assigned to lead sources still accurate? Are there new metrics that aren’t being included in the lead score? What may seem like tedious work now, will prove to be a valuable investment in Q1 when you’re trying to prioritize all the leads in your pipeline. This is also a good time to work with marketing to see if there are any new lead sources that they will be introducing soon and work these into your scoring formula ahead of time.
If you aren’t using any type of lead scoring, there’s no better time to get started than now. Most next-generation sales platforms will have a built in lead scoring element that you can work from. Begin with the basics, assign scores to each of your lead sources accordingly and select a few other variables. Common variables include, location, job title, and business size. After the scores are assigned to each variable, just add them all up for each lead and you’ll instantly see the best leads at the top of the leads list. What a way to start the new year.
3. Stage Duration Analysis
Time kills deals. The longer your deals last, the more time there is for something to go wrong. Competitors steal deals, new stake holders get added, budget gets pulled back, the list is endless. As the seller, it’s your responsibility to compress the sales cycle to be as short as possible. Now I’m not saying make them feel rushed. Just make sure you’re not adding in unnecessary time. The prospect wants a reference? Have that lined up ahead of time. The prospect wants to see a demo? Deliver the demo on the spot. If you’re saying, “I’ll get that to you next week,” you need to assume there’s a competitor who’s getting that done tomorrow.
During your Sales Checkup, one of the best things you can do is run a Stage Duration Analysis. A Stage Duration Analysis tells you how long your average sales cycle is and visualizes how much time deals spend in each stage of your sales pipeline. At the simplest level, you can determine the historical length of your sales cycle which is great for forecasting. Going a step further, the Stage Duration Analysis gives you a rep comparison so you can compare your sales cycle to colleagues. The ultimate goal in the sales checkup is to look at the Stage Duration Analysis and identify where you can shrink the sales cycle. It’s the sales rep’s job to get the prospect to see value in the solution you’re selling. The faster the prospect sees the value, the shorter the sales cycle will be.
If your CRM doesn’t offer this report, you can still run the analysis, you’ll just need to get your hands on all closed deals along with the stage change history.
4. Evaluate Deal Source Performance
When things get slow, marketing teams get the inevitable “we need more leads” request from sales. But let’s be honest, if you don’t ask for a specific type of lead, chances are you’re going to get garbage leads. Before you go to marketing asking for more leads, evaluate the deal source performance. Look at the deals you’ve closed in the last 6-12 months and see where they came from. Is one marketing source producing deals that average more revenue than other marketing sources? The other advantage to knowing the average deal size by source is you can go back to marketing and tell them how much to spend for a specific lead. While the marketing team might normally spend $10 for leads, they have the flexibility to spend $20 for leads that are producing the higher end deals. You just need to give them the feedback and complete the loop!
Be sure to also look at time to close and win rates for each lead source, too. If you’re looking for leads to help you hit your numbers this quarter, leads that take 4 months to close aren’t going to do you any favors.
Make 2016 Your Best Sales Year Yet
When things slow down during the holidays, it’s not time to browse reddit. Run the 4 Step Sales checkup on your business and set yourself up for a successful 2016. What are you doing in preparation for 2016? I’d love to hear the metrics you plan to track in the new year. If you’re looking to keep things going from here, be sure to get your copy of our quick reference Sales Metrics Guide. Happy Selling!