Hard Times

Many factors lead to stalled or declining sales. They are known, as are the remedies that would result in increased sales. Only those willing to acknowledge the root causes of poor sales results and changing their actions have any hope of turning things around.

Too Few Opportunities

Like it or not, the first reason your sales are not growing is that you are not creating enough new opportunities to generate incremental growth. Without creating the necessary opportunities to provide additional revenue, not only are you not going to grow, you are more likely to experience declining sales due to lost clients.

Creating new and incremental opportunities is a critical outcome for those who seek growth. When you are not creating new opportunities, there is one thing that is almost universally true: You are not doing enough prospecting.

There are a lot of factors that precede too little prospecting. Some sales leaders incorrectly believe that their senior salespeople should not have to prospect for new business, even though their more experienced salespeople have the most significant ability to create value for their prospects and create new opportunities.

Other organizations struggle to create a culture of accountability, expecting their salespeople will prospect without any direction. These organizations and their leaders don’t impose any standards, allowing poor results, believing that the autonomy that comes with sales doesn’t need to be accompanied by strong direction.

Within the first two minutes of a pipeline meeting, you can tell that a sales organization isn’t going to have easy growth. When the first salesperson shares their update on the same account that they shared the prior week instead of rattling off the new opportunities they created in the past week, you know there is a problem. The cardinal sin here is believing that capturing opportunities is all that is necessary for growth.

Too Few Won Opportunities

You are not going to grow your sales by creating new opportunities only to lose so many that you can’t generate incremental new revenue. The data suggests that companies competing for blind opportunities win some percentage between ten and fifteen percent. Different businesses and industries have varying numbers here, and a reasonable win rate in one may not be acceptable in another. That said, it’s hard to outrun poor effectiveness by creating more opportunities only to lose them.

It can be incredibly challenging to outrun a “too low” win rate by creating additional opportunities, as many who have tried can attest. There is a good deal of confusion around the ideas of “efficiency” and “effectiveness” in sales, in large part because of the technological tools that allow for automation and save time. Improved efficiency means producing an outcome with less energy and effort. Not producing the result means all of your efforts were wasted, making you inefficient.

The reasons you lose deals are many and varied. The best place to start, however, is with your sales approach and how you lead the sales conversation with your prospective client. Traditional methods built on the idea that you have to get your client to acknowledge a gap in the results they need and solve that by recommending your solution are often inadequate to creating a preference to buy from you.

There is too little value created in comparison to other, more modern sales approaches. If your strategy doesn’t allow you to provide your client with a new, higher resolution lens through which to see their current and future states, the approach isn’t something that you can call consultative selling.

You can add to the inadequate approach the inability to control the process, allowing your prospective clients to determine the method. You make losing likely when your contacts are not engaged in the conversations they need to have internally and with you, avoiding making and keeping the commitments that would ensure they make the right decision.

While there has been a lot of conversation about the need to build consensus to win deals, deals are lost every day when salespeople still believe their “champion,” “power sponsor,” or “main contact” is going to be the only person they need to win a deal, even when their solutions will impact the client’s entire enterprise.

When you lack a philosophy of modern selling, and the processes, methodologies, strategies, and language for consultative conversations, the result is lower win rates and a lack of growth.

Leadership and Leading Yourself

The great part about being a leader is that everything is your fault, including too few opportunities and low win rates. Believing that everything is your fault is also the most empowering position available to you; if you are responsible for poor results, then you are also the one who can make the changes to improve your results. For a lot of companies, it starts with opportunity creation.

Increasing the number of opportunities and improving your win rates is as good a recipe as you will need to increase your revenue and start to grow your business.

Those of you who sell should not wait for anyone to tell you that you need to create more opportunities, nor should you wait for anyone else to improve your effectiveness in your chosen profession. No one succeeds or reaches their full potential when someone else has to tell them what to do.



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