Success – Don’t Have a Plan!

21 Questions for 21 Millionairs
21 Questions for 21 millionaires

A few days past, I reconnected with a colleague from a previous job.  We had brunch at Snooze.  As an aside, Snooze is printing money right now – they are so busy.  We scheduled our meeting for 10:00 AM on a Wednesday – there was a 30 minute wait.  Snooze has a great product and a wonderful atmosphere – their success is no surprise.

Anyway, Snooze is not the topic of this blog.  Brandon wrote a really interesting book entitled 21 Questions for 21 Millionaires.  In his work,  Brandon asks 21 questions to 21 millionaires on the secrets of their success.  You will be surprised at their answers.  The answers are not the typical recommendations from all the self-help books on the market.

There is one common denominator – hard work.  Is this a big surprise?  During my years of building and managing sales organizations, there was and still is one common theme on the sales teams.  The individuals who spend the most time working, preparing, learning, and mastering the craft of selling, sell the most revenue and units.  Top performers rarely make excuses and always seem to find a way to achieve their goals.

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Sales Funnel (Pyramid) Management Must Embrace Volatility

Accurate sales pyramid (funnel) management is one of the hallmarks of quality sales leadership.  Sales leaders who effectively use sales pyramid management techniques will accurately predict future revenue, expense, and margins to the executive levels of the organization.  Sales leaders who effectively use sales pyramid management techniques will also create a dynamic sales environment.

The sales, or customer pyramid, must fulfill, at least, three basic requirements.

sales funnel sales pyramid
Sales Pyramid
  1. Accurately predict units sold, revenue, variable expense (COGS), gross margin, and profit margin
  2. Provide reliable information to the operational divisions for future product sales
  3. Define, via sales milestones, the entire sales cycle and associated chance of future close.

Identifying sales milestones within the revenue cycle is the foundation to establishing a measurable/manageable sales pyramid.   The milestones in the revenue cycle must also embrace both volatility and reliability – two very different components of a sales cycle.  See below for an example of a milestone based revenue or sales cycle.

sales cycle sales funnel
Sales Cycle Milestones

The diamonds represent specific, measurable, and strategic milestones in the sales cycle.  All sales cycles should be defined by clearly written milestones which must be achieved before a deal can move to the next selling stage.  Additionally, these milestones must correlate to the probability that the deal will close.

For example, let’s assume the price for a product being sold is $100,000.  The sales person has achieved all the milestones up to and including the proposal stage – a 40% chance of close.  Therefore, the value of this customer in the sales pyramid is $40,000.  As the sales person continues to work this account and the deal progresses through the milestones eventually, the value will equal 100% (or $100,000) when the contract is signed.   It is assumed that closed deals are “booked”.  If there is still a chance signed deals can cancel adjust the probabilities accordingly.

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Efficient Sales Leaders Must Define Success

Leaders of the most efficient and powerful sales organizations must define success for the teams they lead and the executives they support.  This definition of success becomes an intrinsic part of the sales culture.  But defining success  across the entire revenue producing organization is not all that simple, nor is …

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Time Management – Prioritizing Daily Sales Activities

 Put Yourself in a Position to Win! The chart above is a simple, yet effective, tool designed to enhance time management and prioritize daily activities of sales professionals.  While this tool is most effective in transactional environments, it can also be modified to fit most complex business to business revenue-cycles …

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