Distribution Sales Sickness Syndrome
Every distribution sales executive knows that the road to improving sales is windy and full of unexpected curves.
Prospects stall on bid and quote responses. Customers negotiate for better terms. New competitors insert themselves into deals you thought were a sure thing. Each and every sales cycle is different and the issues you face are just as unique.
Unfortunately, many distribution sales teams have come down with certain kinds of illnesses – types of distribution sales sickness – where unnecessary and recurring issues keep seeping into each deal they sell.
Here are some of the symptoms that your sales team is suffering along with some prescribed cures to get your revenue back on track.
Sales Reps Don’t Spend Enough Time Actually Selling
Your reps have a lot to keep track of in their day-to-day responsibilities. Sales meetings, prospect calls, customer visits, bids and quotes, new marketing campaigns, updating contact information, providing the management team with reports and forecasts and even just managing their email inbox. According to Accenture’s report, “Selling in the Age of Distraction,” the actual time a sales rep spends selling is just 36% of their average workweek.
Let that sink in. That’s only 14.4 hours per week spent selling.
The best way to help your increasingly distracted reps is to help them get to the right information at the right time. Distributors often struggle with access to sales history and customer information not to mention communicating information and ideas across their organization. A distribution-centric CRM and BI platform like SMP helps your reps track, maintain and leverage all of the relevant data, history and messaging for each and every customer and prospect. The right information is at their fingertips at the right time. That means they’ll be able to add some more selling hours instead of searching for information and every hour they are able to spend on sales will be maximized.
Customers and Prospects Stopped Returning Calls
It is harder than ever to get another human being’s attention. Your customers and prospects face all of the distractions that we mentioned for your sales reps above, and probably even more. It is especially difficult to get someone to return a phone call or email. This isn’t any fault of your sales reps, it’s just the reality of the busy world in which we live. We are all constantly bombarded with messages and your customers and prospects are lost in a sea of communications.
That’s why it’s so important to establish processes and rhythms for your sales team. SMP helps your reps and sales managers track exactly where they are in each and every sale. You can immediately see how many contact attempts have already been made, which plans were put into place, what is the status of outstanding quotes and what are the next steps in the process. SMP was built specifically for distribution sales reps, which means your reps will find it easy to use and won’t have to hunt through enormous amounts of meaningless fields and data like you find in other CRM systems. Your rep will know exactly where they stand with each of their prospects no matter how hard it is to keep up with their communications.
Busy Reps Forget to Be Personal
One of the worst illnesses caused by busy reps and data overload is that reps and marketing teams try to cut corners by making similar offers to all of their customers. You can’t really blame them. It can be very time consuming to customize highly-targeted and differentiated lists to create personalized offers. It’s no wonder your teams don’t take the time to narrow their lists down when you consider that each list you profile could take up to 10 hours to find, clean and target with campaign activities and emails.
That is, unless your team runs SMP.
With SMP, targeting a new list based on any of your customer behavior and sales history takes a matter of seconds, not hours. With a simple drag-and-drop interface, your teams can carve new profiled lists and then quickly create new campaigns, emails, call blitzes and more.
Most importantly, your customers will appreciate your sincere approach. The old way of blasting untargeted information to everyone abuses your customers’ time, permission and negatively affects every future communication you send. Highly targeted offers, on the other hand, add value to your customer and they will appreciate the effort you took to understand them and their needs.
Sales Success is Not Contagious
If you’re lucky, you have a couple of overachievers on your sales team. You know who they are: they almost always exceed their quota, their forecasts are predictable and the closing rates are high. The problem is, how do we take their processes and behaviors and instill them in the rest of the team.
The key is process.
It can take a lot of effort and investment to document and track your sales processes to analyze them for constant improvement. Fortunately, SMP makes that easy. SMP starts with a distributor’s point of view, so your team will easily catch on to the best ways to enter and track specific distribution sales behaviors that lead to success. They will have your best sales practices and customer data at their fingertips. Your sales managers will be able to track and manage their activities to better understand what behaviors your top reps have in common and help your other reps add those behaviors in their sales cycles.
For more information on developing best practices on your team, see our blog post Coaching Sales People to Success.
Quotes and Bids Go Stale
We recently surveyed distribution sales executives and 90% told us that closing more open bids and quotes was one of their top priorities. It makes sense. You’ve already invested a lot of time and energy in just finding new business, so it especially hurts when those bids and quotes go stale.
Bids and Quotes go stale for a simple reason – sales reps don’t have a great way to track and remember all the different bids and quotes they have created. That leads to late or even no follow up and those bids fall through the cracks.
SMP allows you to automatically assigns follow up tasks to your reps on significant quotes so that you know follow up is happening.
Read about how SMP helps teams close 25% to 30% more open bids and quotes.
Every distribution sales team develops some sales sickness from time to time. But the healthiest sales teams use SMP to diagnose and fix symptoms before they turn into real health crises. With SMP, your team will spend more time selling, enjoy higher contact rates, improve their processes and close more quotes and bids.
If you’d like us to be a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, we’ll buy your team lunch and discuss new techniques and technology to improve your sales.