Advantage 9 Sales Funnel Tips For Managers

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9 Coaching Tipsfor Sales Managersto Drive Better Sales Funnel Resultsby Mark SellersCEO and Founder, Breakthrough Sales Performance Partner, Advantage Performance Group

AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETReference GuideIntroductionTip 1Commit to a funnel inspection for each salesperson.Tip 2Know where, how and why the funnel has changed.Tip 3Don’t confuse a forecasting call with a Funnel Audit.Tip 4Don’t make the Funnel Audit a deal review discussion.Tip 5Be consistent in your funnel systems and processes.Tip 6Make a difference one rep and one Funnel Audit at a time.Tip 7Help your reps get the right things done.Tip 8Remember that veterans and stars need coaching too.Tip 9Book your next month’s Funnel Audit now!Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEET“If my sales management house wason fire, the sales funnel is the one toolI would grab on the way out the door.“Introduction- Sales Manager, Healthcare Technology CompanyIf you’re a sales manager you know your time every day is like the sand in anhourglass quickly falling from the top to the bottom. It’s a chal- lenge to use thattime productively.One of the highest ROMAs - return on manager activities – is helping your salespeople maximize their sales funnel effectiveness. Managing the funnel requiressalespeople to identify the right priorities, plan their work, and organize well toget it done.In this performance paper you will learn 9 critical sales funnel coaching tips tohelp your salespeople do exactly that.Good Selling!Mark SellersCEO and Founder, Breakthrough Sales Performance Author, The Funnel Principle, Named by Selling Power Magazinea Top Ten Best Sales Book to ReadCopyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

1AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETCommit to regularly scheduled funnelinspections for each rep.Improving sales funnel management begins with knowing the true health of thefunnel at any time. The best way to do this is to inspect the funnel. We call theseFunnel Audits.Through the Funnel Audit you have a powerful tool for coaching your team.It reveals where and how the funnel needs to be improved. It gives focus andclarity on the priorities that need attention. It gives you an easy way to hold repsaccountable.Here’s how the Funnel Audit works. Each month the salesperson completes theFunnel Audit Worksheet. The salesperson and sales manager remotely call inand go through the Funnel Audit. The Worksheet leads the manager and rep ona structured conversation about funnel health and where and why the funnel haschanged (or not). The Audits take 60-75 minutes.A key part of the Funnel Audit is the 30 day funnel plan. It helps you keep yourreps accountable. The plan specifically details the accounts and opportunitiesthat the rep will commit selling time to and defines specific, measurable and timebound goals and actions. Then, at the next Audit you can see which goals andactions the rep completed or not.Transform your effectiveness by transforming that of your salespeople. Do FunnelAudits.Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

2AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETHelp your salespeople see where, howand why their funnels have changed.Knowing where, how, and why a rep’s sales funnel has changed is powerfulinformation.Knowing what has changed helps a salesperson justify doing what’s working andstop doing what’s not working. It lets them prioritize, plan and organize their wayto success.As a sales manager you should help your salespeople see what’s changedacross three categories: adding new sales opportunities to the funnel, movingopportunities through the stages, and closing sales.If one of your salespeople consistently does not add new opportunities to thefunnel then she needs to know that her funnel will eventually be very weak inthe middle. There can be many causes of this including expecting too muchnew business to come from existing customers or simply not having visibility toactivity at the top of the funnel to be aware of the problem. If the rep is activlytrying to add opportunities then you can help her evaluate the effectiveness ofthose activities. For example are trade shows generating new leads? What aboutemail campaigns? Is the website optimized to collect visitors? Are leads beingpassed to the rep efficiently? The Funnel Audit helps you quickly and effectivelydiscuss this important part of managing the funnel.If opportunities don’t move stages month after month it’s the Funnel Audit thatcatches this problem. You can clearly see if opportunities have moved from onestage to another and you can discuss why. You will want to know if early stageopportunities have moved into the TVR section especially since TVR is the bestindicator of funnel health. Isolating this problem helps you coach the rep in howto move opportunities faster, if that’s possible, or at least how to deploy creativeselling activities to get more stage movement. You can also advise to avoid doingthings just to be busy.Finally, some of our clients need to improve closing results. The Funnel Audit canreveal this problem and help you coach the rep in how to improve.Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

3AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETDon’t confuse a forecast call with aFunnel Audit call.Every sales manager is responsible to deliver an accurate forecast usually eachmonth or quarter.However, one common and costly mistake I see sales managers make isconfusing the forecast call with a Funnel Audit. Both are important and both arevery different.A forecast call goes something like this: The manager calls the rep and askswhich deals will close this month or quarter. Or, she might ask just how muchrevenue is forecasted to close, not concerned with where it comes from. Themanager might modify what the rep told her before passing on her forecast toher boss.The Funnel Audit is different from a forecast call. The Funnel Audit is a structuredconversation every month about the health of the funnel and ends with a 30 dayplan to work it. This conversation covers all stages of the funnel, not just one ortwo that might be used to create the forecast. There are many questions aroundwhat’s working and what’s not in adding opportunities, advancing them, andclosing them. There are questions to learn what’s working in generating newleads. Lots of questions!The Funnel Audit conversation has a big impact on the accuracy of the forecastcall. Make sure the Funnel Audit conversation doesn’t take a back seat to theforecast.Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

4AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETDon’t make the Funnel Audit a dealreview discussion.This is the second most common and costly mistake sales managers make wheninspecting the funnel.Making the Funnel Audit a discussion mostly of the deals the rep is working on,where they are and what’s happening with them robs the rep of the value of theAudit. You can’t expect your reps to steadily get better at funnel management ifyou let this happen.One reason it happens is because sales managers don’t take enough timebetweenFunnel Audits to have deal conversations. That’s not an easy fix but it is a simpleone. Make time to discuss deals.A second reason it happens is that during the Audit it’s likely that you willask questions about the deal as it pertains to funnel stage and value andcommitment. This is normal and OK. But it’s when those deal discussions end uplasting 20 minutes that the focus slips away.Make time for deal discussions outside of The Funnel Audit.Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

5AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETBe consistent in your Funnel systemsand processes.Nothing throws off your salespeople more than changes to how you manage yourregion. Though some changes will occur it’s not necessary to frequently changeyour process for managing the sales funnel.Let’s start with the Funnel Audit. You should discuss the same information eachtime. You want to know ‘dashboard’ stuff like the quota gap, the size of the funnel(TVR), Target TVR, number of TVR opportunities, and number and potentialdollar value of opportunities stage by stage.You want to discuss what’s changed about the funnel – or not. You want toreview the 30 day plan. You should do this every 30 days. It doesn’t have to be onthe same day but should be close to it.You want to have a solution for ‘housing’ your funnels. This could be an excelspreadsheet or a CRM product.Finally, don’t confuse continuous improvement with unnecessary changes. It’s agood idea to periodically step back and evaluate the effectiveness of the process.Likely there’s room to improve something. Go ahead and improve it. This can takeplace every 90 to 180 days.Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

6AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETUse the Funnel Audit to make adifference one rep at a time.Many years ago one of the simple but profound lessons I got as a youngcompetitive golfer was from a good friend of mine named Jeremy. He knew Iloved to practice. I would go to the driving range and hit balls and chip and puttfor hours at a time.One day he commented that whenever he went to the range he made sure hehad a specific objective. Sometimes the objective was to work on his short gamelike flop shots. Sometimes he worked on long irons. Sometimes the objective wasmaking putts from 6-8 feet. I took that advice and it made me a better golfer.You should look at the Funnel Audit with each salesperson the same way. Identifysomething specific that each of your salespeople needs to improve right now anduse the Audit to help.For example, if a rep needs help adding more early stage opportunities fromcustomers then focus on how she can get better at that. Maybe she needs tobroadenher lead generation efforts. Maybe she should look beyond existing customersfor new leads and work on new customers. Maybe she needs help asking betterstage questions to disqualify opportunities faster. Help with that. Maybe sheshould stop attending local trade shows that are costly but that fail to producenew leads.The Funnel Audit is powerful because it lets you see the patterns that a rep getsinto and even the habits they have learned to own. Some of these patterns canbecome obstacles to breaking through and becoming more effective. Usuallythey’re too close to see these things. This is where you can make an impact.Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

7AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETHelp your reps get the right thingsdone.With salespeople busier than ever the challenge is to make time for getting theright things done – their sales priorities. As a sales manager you can help byidentifying the priorities and holding your people accountable through goals andactions on the 30 day funnel plan.Each Funnel Audit ends with a 30 day plan. The salesperson identifies thespecific accounts and opportunities he’ll work on and what exactly the goal isfor each one. At each Audit you and your salespeople review progress towardachieving the goals. Though this seems straightforward it’s not easy to do. Thefirst challenge is to get good at writing goals and actions.A goal is something to be achieved that the customer commits to. For example,instead of defining a goal as ‘deliver a proposal’ try defining it as ‘getting thecustomer to agree that our offer (that’s in the proposal) meets their needs’. Theaction is delivering the proposal. Another common example is a trial or demo.Instead of the goal being ‘do the demo or trial’ ask yourself what you hopeto achieve through the demo or trial. Are you hoping to get the customer toacknowledge a need? See the financial costs of the problem? Commit fundingto change? These are all commitments the customer must make to advance thesale. See them as goals. It’s the only way to really make progress for a sale.If you don’t do this then your salespeople can easily be too impressed withhow busy they are with actions. But actions and busyness don’t guaranteeeffectiveness.Think of how many times over the course of the year your salespeople decidehow to use their precious time and resources to advance a sale. Think of howmany demos or trials or samples or any other selling resources are used withoutany impact on the sale.Getting even a little better at this can add up to a tremendous improvement insales effectiveness over time. Now think of getting all of your salespeople betterat this and you’ve got a big impact on your region quota. Expect to see shortersales cycles, better qualification of opportunities, better sales strategies, andbetter use of their selling resources.Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

8AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETRemember that veterans and starsneed coaching too.One of the biggest mistakes I see sales managers make is not coaching theirveteran salespeople and their sales stars.This is unfortunate because both need coaching. Veterans are not necessarilystars but both present some challenges to sales managers.One problem is that veterans might not seek coaching because they don’t wantto appear weak especially to a younger sales manager. It gets worse when theyoung manager tries to coach and is rejected. What’s exposed is the managermight not know how to coach a veteran. So it’s not that veterans don’t wantcoaching. They just want coaching that makes sense to them.To coach veterans think of earning their trust first. Ride with them. See howthey go about planning for sales calls, making presentations and strategizing.Eventually ask them to share with you what their goals are and why these areimportant. If a veteran has grown so tired and unmotivated to improve you’llhave to start there. They have to want to get better for your coaching to haveany impact. Always respect their experience, but don’t be shy about objectivelypointing out areas to be improved.Stars need coaching too. Though they sometimes are highly independent andappear to not need anything from anybody (!) they can respond favorably to theright coaching.The best way to coach a star is to take the time to learn how they make ithappen. Ride and observe and be quiet. Be clear that your intentions are to learn.During lunches or even waiting until the end of the day ask some questions aboutwhy they do certain things. You’ll gain a lot of respect and credibility. Eventuallyyou might be invited to help – maybe she asks you a question about an accountor presentation. Instead of giving answers think of questions you could ask thatget her thinking. She’ll figure it out from there.Your job as a sales manager is to make a difference for each salesperson. Somepeople will need a lot of attention and others just a little. Earn credibility witheach one and tailor your approach.Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

9AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETBook next month’s Funnel Audit witheach salesperson now.The key to making sustainable improvements in maximizing sales funnelperformance is to commit to regular, structured Funnel Audits month aftermonth. The Audits reveal critical insight into each salesperson’s funnel and intohow they approach this most important task. They allow you to see patterns andhabits – good ones and bad ones. You can coach objectively to what you see andlearn.So the best time to book next month’s Funnel Audit is at the conclusion of theAudit you just completed with each person.This will go a long way toward making an impact for each salesperson.Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

AN ADVANTAGE TIP SHEETIf you found this helpful .Visit our website to download the related white paper and take our Funnel IQDiagnostic if you haven’t already: Sales Leaders — What’s Your Funnel IQ?Rethink the most valuable tool in your bag to sell more and exceed plan Get the book! The Funnel Principle Download a chapter from The Funnel Principle Check out Mark Sellers’s Funnel Principle BlogAbout Mark SellersMark Sellers, an Advantage Performance Group partner, is an international salesconsultant, CEO and founder of the sales consulting firm Breakthrough SalesPerformance . In 2008, he published The Funnel Principle book and introduceda game-changing standard in the sales funnel called The BuyCycle Funnel .About Advantage Performance GroupAdvantage Performance Group is a professional services firm providing creativelearning and consulting solutions that equip individuals, teams and organizationsto be the best at what they do. We help leaders lead, sellers sell and businessesflourish. Have you called Advantage yet?For additional information, contact an Advantage partner today. Visit us at or email us at Performance Group100 Smith Ranch Road, Suite 306San Rafael, CA 94903Toll free: (800) 494-6646Phone: (415) 925-6832 Fax: (415) 925-9512Copyright 2015 Advantage Performance Group and Breakthrough Sales Performance

Funnel Audit Worksheet. The salesperson and sales manager remotely call in and go through the Funnel Audit. The Worksheet leads the manager and rep on a structured conversation about funnel health and where and why the funnel has changed (or not). The Audits take 60-75 minutes. A key part of the Funnel Audit is the 30 day funnel plan.

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