Hartland, WI (PRWEB) April 10, 2009
Jeffrey A. Koser, CEO and founder of Selling to Zebras, LLC, and the co-author of the award winning book "Selling to Zebras", says: "your sales department needs to change, and if you change you can create your own economic stimulus!"
How can changes you make in your sales department help your business sell through these record breaking financial times?
There are several keys to business leadership that can be driven by sales. Good sales people know when they are going to win, but all too often they can't communicate why. A good sales person knows when they are working a real prospect, but most of them haven't found a way to translate that "gut-level" instinct into something the rest of the organization can learn and benefit from. Sales people are some of the most adept at adjusting to change, but many in leadership positions within sales have not adapted to leverage this unique strength. For some reason sales leadership has not kept pace with the other areas of the business world and, as a result, there is a large potential opportunity being left on the table.
A struggling economy means that sale cycles are now getting even longer, which means the non-decision, or "apathy" portion of your company's sales pipeline forecast is growing. What can sales do to promote growth and life within the organization?
The answer is to treat the disease of apathy at its source, which stems from the old-school belief that all sales activity is good activity. This flawed belief is as ancient as sales itself, and in reality, sales was born with this disease. Previous methodologies have taught that making enough sales calls, any and every sales call, will put money in your business's pockets. The belief that a given level of activity will lead to a given level of success has been and will be forever flawed. Further, conventional, activity-driven sales wisdom dictates that sales departments need four, five, or even six times the targeted revenue number in the pipeline to ensure the forecast is met.
Consider the consequences of applying this same thinking to inventory. If inventory levels were run at 15 percent efficiency, inventory levels would have to be maintained at 6 times their current levels. The cost of carrying six times the amount of inventory including warehousing, management, movement, damage, equity, and the increase in complexity would result in the death of your business. To painfully connect the dots, this level of sales efficiency, or should we say inefficiency, is burying your business!
Do we finally have your attention? It's time for a solution, and that solution is to apply a simple new metric to sales. The metric is simple so that your organization can quickly and effectively adopt it. The new metric we propose is a Zebra sales score, and it needs to be applied to every deal in your pipeline forecast. A Zebra is the profile of the perfect prospect for your business. The Zebra score tells you how close every deal in your pipeline is to perfection. A minimal Zebra score is established, identifying which prospects should be entered into your pipeline, so that each and every prospect in your pipeline for a given quarter has a strong chance of being closed in that quarter.
By investing just 5 minutes using the Zebra score to qualify each prospect opportunity that enters your pipeline, it is possible to close 90 percent of the business you pursue. As a result, it now becomes possible to predict with 90 percent accuracy, at the beginning of the quarter, the amount of revenue you will close by the end of the quarter. No longer will it be necessary to stuff your pipeline arbitrarily and artificially with many times the actual needed "opportunity" in an attempt to meet a revenue target that is just a fraction of that. Ultimately, this strategy will also allow you to grow the REAL value of your pipeline by enhancing your focus on only the opportunities that can be won in a given quarter. Translation: You can use this new strategy to generate more revenue for your organization than previously possible!
Here's how it works. The process must begin with a paradigm shift in thinking, and that shift comes with the understanding that not all prospects are your prospects. This is a simple premise, but less than one percent of sales organizations have, and actually follow, a process to eliminate unwanted prospects and customers. This is a recipe for disaster now more than ever!
Avoid the disaster by developing and answering the seven questions about each prospect that can change your business.
To develop your Zebra:
1. Define the types of companies that are your best customers.
2. What do they look like operationally?
3. Who is the person in a position of power that made the promises that got your project approved?
4. What funding was required?
5. What level and type of return-on-investment did you prove?
(We will go into more detail about this later.)
6. What role did technology play?
7. What were the service requirements where you won in the past?
Don't try to define all customers. Instead, define your best customers. The best customers are the ones where you win the 9 out of 10, who matched the attributes defined by the previous seven questions.
To help with this process, now think about the most recent business you lost, or the business you won that you actually should have walked away from because you failed to create the promised value. This is your anti-zebra.
How do you ensure you are defining the right descriptions of these attributes in developing your profile of potential clients? You test it. As you now know there are seven questions that you answer about each prospect. The questions are scored from 0-4, 0 being the extremely unfavorable "antizebra" response, and 4 being an extremely favorable response. A perfect Zebra score is 28 (7×4).
For most of our customers, a Zebra score of 23 means that prospect will buy 90% of the time.
When you finish your Zebra, you test it by scoring the last five deals you won. They should score at or near 23. Then test your Zebra score against deals that were lost to competition. Finally, test it with a deal that, in your heart, you don't ever think will close. Lost deals, and deals you don't believe will ever close, will always score less than 19.
Congratulations, you have a Zebra!
Sales solves business problems. An efficient, consistent, predictable sales and revenue generating engine can lead your business out of these tough economic times. Sales people are adept at change-leverage this adaptablility!
"Jeff and Chad Koser wrote a book that I consider one of the best sales books I have read in the last decade." - Marc Kramer, Wharton School of Management
About Jeff Koser and Selling to Zebras, LLC: Jeff is the founder of Selling to Zebras, LLC (http://www.SellingtoZebras.com), a sales tools and consulting firm established in 1999 that works with CEOs, top executives, and sales forces of both large and small organizations including: American Express, Kronos, Smart Choice MRI, and StarCite, Inc. Jeff and his family live in Hartland, Wisconsin. Koser is the former Chief Operating Officers of Baan USA, Inc's Supply Chain Software Division. Koser is also a member of TEC 60.
Contact information: Jeff can be reached @ mobile phone (414) 659-1494, http://www.sellingtozebras.com