When did you last review your company’s sales process? If you have to think about the answer, it’s been too long. When business is booming and sales are high, we know that it’s easy to get wrapped up in your success and to not take the time to stop and reflect. Nonetheless, it’s very important to regularly perform an audit of your sales process in order to learn where you can streamline your process, to find out what works (and what doesn’t), and to determine where you can improve.
How to understand what’s working and what’s not working in your sales process
First of all, it’s important to understand that your sales process is not simply about selling – it’s actually part of your business development process. While sales is a transactional process, business development is a relationship-based process, and for your sales pipeline to be most successful, you need to try to understand it from a business development perspective.
What do we mean by this? Here’s how we view sales pipelines from a business development mindset: first you start with a lead, which you then try to turn into a relationship, which then hopefully turns into an opportunity, which then ideally turns into a contract or a job.
So to understand your pipeline, you need to first establish your metrics. How many of your leads turn into relationships? How many of your relationships turn into opportunities? And how long does it take for your leads to convert to each next step? When asked these questions, most of our clients will say that they don’t know and that “it’s all over the map”, but it’s crucial that you properly understand this process and determine the average length of your sell cycle. It’s true that not all of your sell cycles will be the same, but if you spend time reviewing your pipeline, you can learn which business sectors typically earn you more immediate sales, so that when you’re in need of a quick win, you can focus on leads in those areas. Conversely, you’ll also gain a better understanding of which leads may be more likely to take a longer time to land.
Having a combination of smaller, quick sells and larger, more challenging sells in your portfolio is key for keeping your sales balanced. Ultimately, by understanding your sell cycle and your sales pipeline, you can make more informed business decisions based on what your company needs, whether that’s short-term, quick turnaround projects, or longer-term, larger scale projects.
No business owner wants to owe extra money to the government, but how do you avoid being penalized by the CRA? We’ll share tips on how to avoid tax-related penalties in our next blog post.