Distribution Industry Survey Results: Learn How Successful Distributors are Using Targeted Marketing
The data is in on targeted marketing in the distribution industry and we're going to…
A strong CRM system can be a powerful ally in the management of your sales team. Just like profiling your customers purchasing behaviors as described above, you can profile each of your sales representatives based on their selling behavior. What behaviors do top reps have in common? What are lower performing reps missing in their playbooks?
You’ll want to start by creating a consistent method for determining who qualifies as a top sales rep in your business. Your CRM system can help you determine the following traits, which we recommend as the performance areas of good sales people.
A sales rep’s win-to-loss ratio is perhaps the most important area to analyze. Obviously, a sales rep who gets more hits in their at bats is more successful than a sales rep with fewer wins. Without good data, many sales managers believe that some reps are just better closers than others. Without a CRM system, even managers who prefer a data-based approach have to rely on complex spreadsheets. With a CRM system you can quickly determine the win-to-loss ratios of different reps to determine who needs help building a sale up to a close or other sales cycle strategy coaching.
Next, take a look at the length of each rep’s sales cycles. Every distribution CEO dreams of shorter sales cycles. Distribution sales is complex and you will always face some lookie-loo customers, large customers with complex purchasing cycles and customers who lose their bids and jobs unexpectedly. But tracking and implementing best practices through your CRM system can help your sales teams close deals faster. Many distributors are at a loss to describe the real reasons behind long sales cycles or delayed deals. Unfortunately, longer sales cycles add to the cost of your sales and affect your cash flow.
Sales people with shorter sales cycles likely demonstrate more consistent behaviors that drive quick sales than their slower counterparts. These are some of the traits of sales people with shorter sales cycles:
Great sales people keep detailed and up-to-date information in their CRM system. This helps them identify important issues, competitors and other obstacles more quickly. They track their conversations and can quickly solve customers’ needs and anticipate upsell opportunities.
Fast sales reps know how to use CRM to target customers rather than using an unplanned approach. They take a data-driven approach to matching the right offer to the right customer at the right time. These reps understand that qualifying a sale is more than just a one-time conversation but involves a one-to-one approach to meeting a customers needs.
Sometimes slow quotes and proposals can unnecessarily delay a sales cycle. A CRM system can help you get proposals out quickly, track your opportunities more closely and use knowledge from previous deals to help you close deals faster.
Successful sales people know how to use mobile tools to speed up sales cycles. A CRM with strong mobile capabilities allows sales reps to focus on their relationships in the field, enter and access data outside of the office, respond immediately to customer issues without travelling back to the office and save time in a number of other ways.
All things equal, sales people with higher average order sizes and higher total volume are more profitable to your company. They understand their customers better by tracking past interactions so that up-selling and cross-selling is more likely. They take advantage of the offers, bundles and discounts you might offer because their process is integrated from marketing all the way to close with strong sales force automation. They are more likely to leverage or negotiate volume pricing because they use up-to-date information in their CRM system. These behaviors add up to larger orders and higher volumes.
Better sales reps have a deeper penetration into their geographies, lines of business or other territories. A higher number of customer relationships means less revenue risk, better sales coverage and more forecasted upside from quarter to quarter. Of course, having a large number of customers can make it more difficult to cultivate one-to-one relationships. A good CRM system can help you maintain customer intimacy even as your customer base grows.
Great sales people track the key people in each account along with their hot button issues and pain points so that each interaction delivers value. They an quickly review buying and activity histories, conversations and notes, decision criteria, competitive presence in each account and more so that they can treat each of their customers uniquely. When they win back lost customers, they can quickly get up to speed on the information on those accounts to increase their sales reach.
Good sales managers understand the specific behaviors of their top reps and coach their team to improvement by emulating those best practices. What are some of the best practices you want to track and coach your team toward?
Start by tracking activity volume. Distribution sales is a numbers game and the higher the numbers the higher your success rate. Track outbound calls, emails, inbound responses, number of quotes and more to help your entire team understand the level of activity they need to succeed.
It is also helpful to understand how quickly your reps are responding to customer requests. When they get a new lead from a marketing activity, how quickly do they record their first contact? Prospects expect your reps to be always-on and on-demand. They want information as soon as possible to achieve their own goals. The longer the prospect waits, the larger the window of opportunity your competitors enjoy.
How deep are their quotes? Are they asking for enough on each order? Sometimes just comparing similar quotes and proposals can tell you a lot about your sales reps’ style and relationships. You want sales people who are willing to ask the tough questions for just a little bit more on an order in either quantity, complementary products or price.
Do your sales people effectively utilize all of the resources in your company and delegate where necessary? It’s easy to look at their activity records in your CRM system to see if they are calling on internal support like customer service, warehouse personnel and marketing experts. Are they using all of the assets and content available to them to reach new deals? Can they garner the necessary resources to position a fast close?
Finally, creating a repeatable and measurable process is key to increasing the success of your entire sales team. A CRM solution allows you to systematize your process so everyone follows the same processes, has access to similar resources and assets like brochures, emails and internal experts. Your CRM solution allows you to create, follow, track and improve the behaviors you need to succeed. Some sales trainers call this “the cookbook.” You need to know which and how many activities create success. In other words, you need to know how many calls lead to how many appointments, how many appointments lead to how many quotes, how many quotes lead to how many closed sales and so on.
It’s important to consider smart phones and tablets in your strategy. A CRM with robust mobile capabilities allows your reps to take their “cookbook,” on the road with them with one-time data entry for key customer information such as contacts, notes, tasks, or upcoming meetings and no additional work required to synchronize data updates, changes or additions back to your company’s central database.