Tag Archives: kevin steffey

Assessing the Quality of your Sales Pipeline

By Kevin Steffey

We are nearly 1 month into the second half of the year.  How are you feeling about your chances of meeting or exceeding your sales targets? 

How strong is your sales pipeline?If you are like many sales managers, you rely on the quality of the information provided by your sales professionals on your pipeline of business opportunities.  However, the pipeline as represented by your representatives is often filled with opportunities that are in varying levels of quality. A thorough review of you pipeline can either validate your confidence or give you an early warning of areas to address.

  1. Are there enough prospective opportunities entering the sales process or currently in the process?  Review the business that is currently in various stages of your sales cycle and apply your typical close rates, sales cycle and average deal sizes to see the value of business currently in your pipeline that has a chance of closing this year. Also, look at the volume of new business entering the pipeline on a weekly basis to assess how much you will add to your pipeline and close in the upcoming months.  Often the biggest hurdle to meeting your sales plan is having enough business to work and keeping a strong eye on the lead generation sources to ensure proper flow of new business.
  2. Are the right types of deals in the pipeline?  A common challenge for sales managers is keeping the team focused on working on the right opportunities – not just the easiest opportunities.  Review the pipeline to see if the mix of business is skewed to less profitable product lines or customer types?  Also, looking at the average deal size in the pipeline is critical to ensure that your sales assumptions are valid.  Test the values put in by your sales professionals.  Are they in line with typical deal sizes or are they inflated? Is there a trend you didn’t expect with the sales price or profit margin being pressured by competition or market dynamics?
  3. Is the business moving through the pipeline at the proper pace?  As you review the opportunities with your sales professionals, are the identified next steps with each opportunity occurring when they say they should?  Do the same opportunities keep showing up week in and week out at the same stage of the sales process? It is important to make sure that your percentage of opportunities moving from one stage to the next is not fundamentally changing from your assumptions.

As you compare the results in each of these areas across your sales professionals and against your norms, you will have a strong sense of how confident you should be in your plan.  As you identify your outliers, those reps that are struggling to add the right type and quantity of business and move it through the sales process, you can start to take corrective action and work with those team members to adjust as needed to hit targets.

Kevin Steffey is President of Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search, a national Sales and Marketing Recruitment firm.  Kevin and Naviga have a passion for sales and marketing positions due to their direct impact on the growth of their customers. Check out www.navigarecruiting.com to engage a partner in growing and developing your team.

High Impact Marketing Strategies for the 2nd Half

By Kevin Steffey

Marketing Strategies for High Impact on SalesEarlier this week, Kathleen Steffey discussed 4 Steps to Accelerate Your Sales Growth Now.  One  suggestion in that post was to increase investment in lead generation tactics.  I felt it was important to expand on aligning marketing efforts to achieve this goal.  A few tactics that can have immediate impact include:

  1. Get creative with your current clients.
    Often our assumptions about how we are doing business with our current clients can cloud our perspective on new and unique ways to engage them.  For instance, we might assume our customers like to hear from us via our regular newsletter and will call if they have new business.  Or, our sales reps may believe their customers only like to buy specific products from us and other products from a competitor.I encourage you to take a step back and test the waters to see if you could offer a special promotion to your current customers that bundles additional products.  Or, test out new communications options such as a direct call from executive management to engage in a strategic discussion about their business direction.  You may find opportunities for a deeper relationship and increased sales potential.  Sometimes thinking out of the box on your customer approach could be just what the doctor ordered.
  2. Increase Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising.
    If you are already doing PPC advertising, you have a wealth of information about what campaigns are working from your analytics tools from Google or Bing.  Use these tools to quantify your cost per lead and invest where you are getting a good return.  In my experience using Google Adwords, there is a direct relationship between ad budget and leads.  If I wanted to double leads, double your budget and you could predict fairly well the results (assuming there is unfulfilled demand for your product).  If your return is favorable at one level of investment, increase it for predictable results.If you are not using PPC, I would highly encourage getting started.  The great thing about PPC is you can start with a budget  you feel comfortable with and start testing it out.  There are lots of resources to help you (although a little trial and error in small steps is a very effective way to get started).  However, it is not as daunting as many will have you believe.  So, give it a chance.
  3. Capitalize on Word of Mouth, Referrals, and Recommendations.
    Studies show that over 90% of purchases involve some form of checking with trusted peers.  It is critical that you are leveraging outstanding performance with your current clients to drive new business.  A few examples of how to leverage positive word of mouth include:
  • incorporate requesting recommendations on LinkedIn directly on the heels of completing a successful transaction with a client. Apply those recommendations in your prospecting activity with companies in the same industry.
  • Put a profile or case study of your recent success right on your website and your social network pages  and reference it in your email communications.  Those success stories  and materials on your websites and social networks become immediately searchable and you will be surprised at how often that you will get calls from similar companies after posting something on your site.
  • Finally, get comfortable asking for referrals – if you don’t ask, you won’t get one.

There are obviously many other tactics that you could employ to impact your second-half results.  These 3 items though are proven to drive both short-term and long-term success if done well and I believe have the best chance to help you beat your year-end goals.

Kevin Steffey is President of Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search, a national Sales and Marketing Recruitment firm.  Kevin and Naviga have a passion for sales and marketing positions due to their direct impact on the growth of their customers. Check out www.navigarecruiting.com to engage a partner in growing and developing your team.