Graham Hawkins, founder and CEO of SalesTribe and a LinkedIn Top Voice, writes in one of his articles that cash-flow is the lifeblood of every business. And without the all-important sales function, there is no way for business to earn that cash.
Harvey Mackay echoes the sentiment: “To me, job titles don't matter. Everyone is in sales. It's the only way we stay in business.”
It’s evident how much pressure the sales team has to deal with on an everyday basis, while being entrusted with the survival of a company.
It’s a good thing that there are a few tricks - eleven to be precise - in the (sales) book to take the edge off and allow salespeople to nurture prospects, qualify leads, close deals on time, and build rewarding relationships with customers.
- Map the buyer journey, sales process, goals, and competitive landscape in your o/sales-plan
As a sales manager, the first thing expected of you is to come up with a foolproof sales plan that is backed by strong market research.
Your sales-plan will be the guide map for your sales methodology, process, and efforts. To make a comprehensive plan for your sales team:
i. Carefully analyze market research done by the marketing team. Understand the buyer persona and the scope of the product along with the extent of competition in conjunction with both the marketing and product departments before jotting down the plan.
ii. Set SMART goals. Make sure the sales goals are Specific (rather than vague), Measurable (have clear metrics for success and failure), Achievable (given the finite resources at disposal), Relevant (to overarching organizational strategy and goals), and Time-bound. SMART goals are easier to understand and therefore easier to work towards.
iii. Define the sales process. Formulate a step-by-step outline for each stage in the process right from prospecting, qualifying leads, and connecting with them to closing, and ensuring customer satisfaction and retention.
iv. Map the buyer journey and clearly establish the customer touchpoints you need to service in order to achieve your sales and revenue targets.
Once these are in place, communicating these to the relevant actors in the organization becomes the next step.
Rather than sharing long and messy links to scattered documents across multiple apps, you could easily create a collection o/sales-plan with all the above information and share a single memorable shortcut with everyone. A collection is a useful tool to organize all your related shortcuts in a folder (of sorts) for quick access.
- Generate a beeline of prospects for your business with o/leads and o/outreach
Prospecting is often where the actual sales process begins. It is one of the most repetitive activities that sales reps have to perform on a daily or weekly basis. And also one of the most challenging. As Liz Lange, CEO of Figue, an American fashion brand, puts it, “Every brand isn't for everybody, and everybody isn't for every brand”.
Not every prospect or lead will engage with the business. That’s why you have to make sure to get enough of them lined up and then reach out to the ones that qualify. Right?
Platforms like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Apollo.io, Clearbit, and Zoominfo are multi-functional tools that could come to your rescue and present opportunities for converting your Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). In addition, you may be using email tools like Hunter and SalesHandy etc. that automate your outreach campaigns.
Create shortcuts o/leads and o/outreach to access your prospecting and email tools blazingly fast.
- Establish common ground in o/meetings
Communication is key to selling. Both internal and external communication have to be clear, concise, and precise to keep everyone on the same page.
Sales requires collaboration with almost all company departments - product, marketing, IT, finance. This is realized via meetings scheduled on different links that colleagues can have a tough time locating or remembering. Solve the problem and reduce the back and forth while asking for meeting links by creating specific Zoom/ GoToMeetings/ Google Meet shortcuts for each category of meetings.
o/allhands, o/daily-standup, o/managers-standup, o/sales-meet, o/marketing-meet…there are many possibilities to choose from depending on the purpose and stakeholders involved.
Quick tip: Set up a private shortcut for yourself at o/my/calendly or o/my/gcal to have a quick overview of all your meetings in one place!
- Transform prospects into fans with o/demo
A picture of your product may be worth a thousand words but a demo deck or video is, well, the best of both worlds. Sometimes all it takes to convince a prospective customer to seal the deal (and win some more) is a well-crafted product demo. It may be a simple Google Slides deck, or a sleek Prezi presentation, or even a fancy Loom/YouTube video. But we know it takes a lot of effort and a whole lot of iterations to do the trick.
You may have to keep revisiting your demo, adding and subtracting things, updating features, modifying the storyline, and customizing the copy time and again.
You would therefore need to work with the product, content, and design teams and keep the access shared. And we’d not want you or your colleagues to keep scrolling through emails and chats to locate the link to the demo every single time. Why not keep it accessible for everyone at o/demo and save everyone the headache? And more importantly, the time.
- Seal the deal with o/proposal
Nothing holds as much power in making or breaking a deal as the proposal.
Your proposal is your ultimate chance of putting your best foot forward, finding the sweet spot where customer expectations align with yours, and in the best case scenario, closing the deal.
Here are some best practices to help you get it right:
- Know your audience well
- Figure out the tone of your message
- Highlight the opportunity statement
- Avoid big, fancy words and keep it concise
- Make sure to include a skimmable executive summary
- Be very specific about the deliverables, timelines, and scope of work
- Present a detailed budget
- Check and recheck for technical or grammatical errors
- Don’t forget to follow up
The perfect proposal is not a one person job. Nor does it happen overnight. Moreover, the proposal may need to be customized for every client. Collaboration is part of the game.
Inviting inputs from your teammates becomes easier when they know exactly where to share their thoughts. Whether you use a Google Doc, Notion, or a specialized tool like Better Proposals or PandaDoc, make sure everyone knows to find the latest version at o/proposal.
Quick tip: The shortcut o/pricing is perfect to accompany o/proposals for when you need to access the pricing documentation frequently to draft or modify a quote for a client.
- Navigate directly to where you want to be using o/salesforce/pipeline
As the number of SaaS applications out there expands, so can their complexity. With many sales CRM tools offering an all-in-one solution, it may often be tricky to get to where you want on the dashboard without wasting precious few minutes every day.
A more efficient way to work minus the delays is to create a shortcut o/pipeline for your CRM software - be it Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Hubspot, Close.io or something else. You can simply configure the shortcut to direct to a specific stage of your pipeline or to your most frequently visited page, such as warm leads, closed deals, or brand new leads. Doing this helps you navigate quickly and directly to the destination page.
Quick tip: Add a prospect to your CRM without jumping through hoops. Just type in o/salesforce/add in the address bar and directly add the contact you want.
- Prepare o/contracts to minimize legal hassles
A lot can go wrong when you are finally signing the deal and getting the prospects onboard as customers. It is prudent to clarify expectations and liabilities by getting into formal contracts with all parties involved.
Legal documents and contracts should always be updated as soon as any of the terms and conditions of the deal change. A central, memorable location under o/contracts for the status of all the contracts - old and new - can serve as the go-to resource for your sales, finance, and legal teams to do so. By monitoring all open contracts in your contract management system together, you can also make it easier to follow up with prospects, and close pending issues faster.
- Supercharge productivity and accelerate success with o/playbook
Do your reps fret over coming up with a new pitch every time they talk to a lead? Your copywriters writing prospecting emails over and over again for new leads? Are you drafting proposals from scratch for every warm lead?
There’s a smarter way to do these things and avoid duplication of efforts - a sales playbook spanning the whole gamut of your sales process.
You should standardize assets used frequently and repeatedly, like pitches, presentations, demos, outreach emails, follow-up tactics, closing strategies, and everything else you can think of.
Make its distribution simple and universal with the shortcut o/playbook serving as a single source of truth. What’s more? By recording everything, you can quickly onboard new reps without having to start their training from scratch.
Halve your work and double your productivity to create an effective and efficient sales machine that maximizes revenue and improves the bottomline for your company exponentially.
- Draft an o/sales-report for improved processes and outcomes
If there is one advice we could give every sales manager, it is to document, document, document. The sales process is ever-evolving and changes as the team evolves, gains experience, and becomes more efficient. Thus, it’s important to keep a track of how it performs, month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year.
While measuring the results, it is important to go back to the goals established during the planning stage and compare the actual figures to the ones expected. You may find it valuable to track (and improve) key metrics such as
- Percentage of prospects transitioning in and out of each stage of your sales pipeline
- Percentage of leads requesting a demo
- Closing ratios with and without product demos
- Churn rates
- Average time taken to convert a prospect into a closed deal
- Percentage increase in number and size of deals closed over the last period
- And other metrics based on your needs
Just documenting the data is not adequate either. The value lies in learning from the results and using them to create better processes and outcomes at an organizational level. We recommend making your analytics and reports public under o/sales-report for your team to come back to and take some fine-tuning inspiration from, any time they need.
- Nurture rewarding customer relationships by documenting a detailed o/handoff
Many people believe that deal closure is where the sales process comes to a halt. Although it may be the ultimate objective of sales, the process doesn't end here. After all, “You don't close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise”. - Patricia Fripp
Transitioning the customers to the customer success (CS) team from sales plays an important role here.
This is where a winning o/handoff, which lays down the main ingredients for a successful transition, can be extremely handy. The handoff doc encapsulates all key information ranging from customer expectations to internal goals, and clearly mentions the task and responsibilities for each team member involved.
Make sure to keep the underlying document of the shortcut updated so the CS team doesn’t have to scour for the link anew after each closed deal.
- Boost motivation and encourage learning at o/wins
Most sales teams have an internal channel to share their learnings from the process, communicate the wins, and reward/recognize success publicly.
Group feedback and acknowledgement is useful to expand horizons and create a sense of shared accomplishment which keeps everyone motivated to do even better.
As sales manager, you could remove hurdles to expression by making the Slack channel for all sales achievements accessible on one click with the shortcut o/wins. And win over your team as the best manager, ever.