The answer is usually a tradeoff between two fundamental courses of action. Option 1: Add resources. Option 2: Get more out of those you already have. Your approach most often depends on available budget.
If you’re below revenue target, budgets get squeezed, programs scrapped and hiring frozen. Today’s post is about a simple approach to improve efficiency with current sales resources. You will also ge a copy of the Customer Priority Scorecard. This easy-to-use scorecard will enable your sales organization to:
- Improve how your sales reps prioritize their time with existing customers
- Deliver better results with the same sales resources
- Reduce your cost of sales
How Are Your Reps Prioritizing Their Customers?
Daily, your reps are faced with important decisions about how they spend their time. Which fire should they put out? How much preparation should they do for specific sales calls? What additional resources should be pulled in for this opportunity?
Human nature often causes reps to grease the squeakiest (or biggest) wheel. Too often, focus is put on customers based soley on total revenue or loudest complaint. What types of pre- and post-sales resources do they require? How well do they match your ideal customer profile? Is there significant un-tapped opportunity?
A best practice for time allocation is to prioritize customers based on multiple items. Develop priority rankings for existing customers with factors including:
- Revenue & Revenue Growth
- Profit Margin (%)
- Profit Volume ($)
- Revenue Potential
- Sales Rep Time to Serve (Average hours per week or month)
- Other Costs to Serve (customer service time, billing inquiry time, post-sales support time, etc.)
- Strategic Fit
- Competitive Position
Some of these factors may seem difficult to quantify but should be addressed. Here’s an example of giving a value to a customer’s Strategic Fit.
Product and service offerings have to evolve to meet changing demand. Consider a company that offers on-premise and cloud data storage and apps. Their strategic emphasis is now more heavily weighted toward cloud-based services. The market has dictated. Assigning a 1-5 scale to this will do the trick. Their buyers of on-premise data storage hardware only might get a “1”. Purchasers of cloud-based storage packaged with virtualized desktop apps receive a “5”.
Of course, there are other ways to improve sales time allocation. Examples include optimized territory structures and off-loading non-essential tasks. These initiatives take time and a re-allocation of resources. Time and resources you won’t have if you’re below revenue goals.
Help them Improve Their Focus
With no increased budget and only five months remaining in the year, efficiency is needed. Focus on what you can do now to improve efficiency for the sales team. Providing them an objective way to better prioritize customers is a great start.
The data outlined above is essential to prioritizing existing customers. To make this a
reality, reps should use the Customer Priority Scorecard and:
- Gather the relevant data at the customer level. This may include separate line items for divisions within an organization. Revenue, margin % and $’s, Opportunity $’s, Time Spent, Strategic Fit,
- Score each customer for each variable on a 1-5 scale with 5 being of greatest value. I recommended that reps distribute these score evenly so 20% receive a “5”, 20% a “4”, etc.
- Assign a weighting to each variable. Some variables will be more important than others. Have the total of all weights add to 100%
- Let the Scorecard tool do the math delivering an overall customer priority score.
Reps that do this objectively will gain great insight. Comparing a customer priority score to time and resources spent will better align their time. Customers that get more time than they should will be re-evaluated. Customers with lover revenue but high potential will get moved up in priority. Customers that are a poor fit for the future will be moved down.
As a sales operations leader, you can drive and support this approach. Start with a pilot with a more progressive sales director. Pre-populate some of the data fields for their team. Brainstorm on the variables used and weights given to each. By making this director part of the process, they will be a supporter.
Time is running short for this year. If your organization is behind the number, resources are drying up too. Help your reps more efficiently spend their time. This scorecard will enable them to allocate their most precious resource wisely.