May 04, 2014
Blog All Dog-eared Pages: Sales on a Beermat
I bought Sales on a Beermat by Mike Southon and Chris West mostly for one section, the bit about the sales process. Coming from a tech/product background, I'd heard mention of a "sales pipeline", but didn't really know what it was.
So it paid its way in just letting me know it's effectively just a spreadsheet of leads, which stage in the sale they're in, and the likelihood they'll succeed. However, the rest of the book was also of interest, and a pretty quick and easy read.
As ever, the sections I highlighted while reading through it...
What the liked non-expert must understand is customer pain. The salesperson needs to convince the buyer that their product will solve this pain. This is much better done by citing other happy customers than by describing the technology in great detail.
Experienced salespeople may well face a drop in income if they move from a steady job to a start-up. Expect this: your reward is twofold. One: it is more exciting and interesting work; two: you get the chance to make really serious money. If you do make the change and the first venture fails, don't forget that being a sales conrnerstone [one of the key roles Southon identifies for a start-up] is an art in itself, which you will learn as you go along.
These are the two most important elements of selling in any and every business.
Qualifying is about finding prospects, and, more important, finding out about them, so you understand their overall situation, specific needs and, very important, ability to pay.
Closing is actually getting people to make a commitment, such as (but not just) signing on the dotted line.
[...] for the vast majority of sapling start-ups and established one-person businesses, partnerships and SMEs, it is necessary to have a more structured model of lead generation running alongside the networking model [where you just attend events, talk to people, etc.].
Though the end product looks deceptively simple, it can take time to craft the Beermat intro email. This is time well spent.
When you have sent your [intro] email, wait a couple of weeks to see what happens. Then contact all non-repliers. Strange as it may seem, the best way to do this is simply to resend the original. This is because the most likely reason for the recipient's failing to reply is either that they read the email, made a note to do something about it, then got distracted by other things; or that they missed it altogether [...]
A subset of first-time non-responders will reply to this second email. For those that don't, wait another few weeks then call them on the phone. Some will be unavailable and not return calls; others will talk with you but say they are not interested. But a proportion will have been aware of the emails and will have a real interest.
For those who vanish - let them go. Contact them again once you have something new to say.
[when sending out the intro email] avoid August or Christmas. I find that the best times to send Beermat intro emails are about a week after major holidays, i.e. the second week in January, the second week after Easter and the second week in September.
You must emerge from [a meeting with a potential customer] with concrete outcomes, not just interest and vague promises. If the prospect 'will get back to you', you must know when (and then you must hold him or her to that schedule). A real result is a promise of contact by a certain date plus the promise of another meeting with other, more senior people in the organisation.
A useful website with information on this topic [of late payments] is www.payontime.co.uk.
The Beermat sales pipeline builds on the narrative of the last chapter. A sale is process, not a one-off event, and you monitor its progress by seeing whether it has passed certain markers or not. Passing each marker makes the eventual arrival of the cheque more likely, so you can attach numerical probabilities to each stage. Multiply these by the expected value of the cheque, and you have a 'pipeline value' for the deal. Add these up, and you have a 'total pipeline value'.
[The sales pipeline] has three key uses: to stop sales getting bogged down, to estimate future revenue streams and to estimate future workloads.
You do not have the option of doing nothing about sales.Posted by Adrian at May 4, 2014 06:24 PM | TrackBack