The US and global economies appear to be recovering and this rising tide has certainly helped most manufacturers. However, many things about markets and customer needs have probably changed for good. The biggest change for most companies is that generating results from sales efforts has gotten much more difficult. Gone for good are the days when you could simply wait for a P.O. from a longtime customer or harvest bookings from incoming requests to quote.
Your company should acknowledge these changes and make a dedicated effort to generate more results from your sales processes. This is the first segment of a three part series on Generating Sales Results in Tough Times. The focus today is on actually understanding what your sales and marketing processes really are, or in Lean terms, mapping your Current State.
How to Map Your Process
There is considerable debate about where to begin and end a sales and marketing process map, but my view is that it’s important to start at the very beginning and map your processes end-to-end. The first stage is where you identify potential new customers, that I call Suspects, the final stage is generating referrals from good customers to more companies like them.
It may be helpful to use some of the elements of the Marketing Hour Glass when thinking about mapping your sales and marketing processes. The Marketing Hour Glass is really a process map and is typically made up of the following stages:
- Suspects: How many Suspects your need to engage with (Know)?
- Prospects: How many and what percent are converted to legitimate prospects (Like)?
- Qualified Prospects: How many and what percent are qualified (Trust)?
- Opportunities: How many and what percent convert to opportunities (Try)?
- Quotes: How many and what percent do your quote (Propose)?
- Bookings: How many of your quotes do your close (Buy)?
- Repeat Sales: How many and what percent do your sell to again?
- Referral Leads: How many of your customers give you referrals?
Understanding how your company is really performing in the current state is a critical first step to improve your sales and marketing processes. You need to dig out the data to make this map real because “In God we trust, all others must bring data”. The reason you need data is so you can benchmark where you are today and then project into the future how you really need to perform to generate the results your are looking for. In Lean terms this is the Current State and Future State, once you know what your Future State needs to be and how you are performing today, you can continuously improve your processes and use the resulting data to measure progress.
Sample Sales Process Map
To begin mapping your current state, my recommendation is to gather everyone who is involved in any of the stages and begin mapping your processes on a white board using the following table. I am adding a few of the data points as an example to get you going:
As you can see from the example above, it typically takes a large number of Suspects to generate a few bookings from new customers. You also need to know what it takes to generate Repeat Sales from existing customers, which is a subset of this process, as well as how to use your best customers to generate referrals to companies they know. But we’ll deal with these issues in Part Two next week.