This is the second article in the series What is your competitive edge? No, really! What is your competitive edge? To read the first article, “Focus on the 180: Front-End Sales Cycle Management,” please click here.
What is your competitive edge? No, really! What is your competitive edge?
Sounds like a simple question, and when asked, most answer pretty quickly and predictably.
If it is your goal to excel in a competitive market, continuous attention to systems, methods, and processes that offer a competitive edge is essential. These methods and processes must be things you and your team can focus on and control internally. External factors such as the economy, industry softness and such are uncontrollable and are therefore not part of this conversation.
The Competitive Edge topic this month is managing your Load Input Goal.
Having been in and around industrial sales for the past 30 years, I can count on one hand companies that did not establish some sort of sales goal. Sales goals are typically backward looking in a sense and are expressed as some percentage increase over the previous year. They generally start at the top with a total company sales goal and filter down to territory, product, or service, and then ultimately to the sales person. Does this sound familiar? If it does, you’re part of the majority and the normal, but not necessarily the best, way of doing things.
Continuing with the normal way of establishing sales goals, let’s talk briefly about how they are typically managed. The focus is on the Back-End looking retrospectively at how the sales stack up to the previously established goal. Monthly sales reports are generated and with some quick math the numbers are compared and result in either a pat on the back or a figurative kick in the rear. If goals are missed, the standard retort is “I’ll make it up next month.”
This a reactive rather than proactive way of looking at things. To gain a competitive edge, you must shift to a proactive way of thinking and focus on Load Input Goals.
What is your Load Input Goal number? No, it is not the pipeline, which is the answer I typically get when I ask this question during my seminars.
Load input goal management is a different way to think about and to run your business. This concept is about understanding the Load Input, Opportunities, and/or Quotes needed reach your sales goals. It is forward thinking and proactive rather than just looking at the historic results. It is, in fact a leading indicator for future business.
Let’s break this down.
- Sales Goal = the annual sales goal for a subdivision of your business, company total, sales person, territory, product, etc.
- Base Business = the recurring base business built over time for that subdivision, typically MRO type business and not including one-time large projects.
- New Load Input = the new opportunities your sales team has identified and is currently working.
- Hit Rate = the close rate percentage your company has experienced for opportunities and quotes converting to orders.
So the key here is the determination of the New Load Input requirement which will become your Load Input Goal when you use this formula.
With this simple formula you can determine what the Load Input Goal requirement is to meet your sales goals, proactively … your leading indicator for future sales. You are now looking at the Front End of the sales cycle with a proactive approach delivering the ability to contemporaneously monitor whether or not the pipeline is being adequately filled to reach the desired goals and giving you the opportunity to take action as necessary before it’s too late: a true competitive edge.
The Takeaway: Establish this Load Input Goal for the areas of your business that you want to manage proactively: company, territory, products, sales person, etc. The KEY now is to track the actual NEW input (opportunities and quotes) against Load Input Goal. Trend this on a monthly basis and you will see clearly if you are heading in the right direction. If your input trend is constantly below your Load Input Goal you most likely will not reach your sales goal. If the input trend is constantly above your Load Input Goal, you probably will be heading to the bank to deposit that commission check.
Take control of your sales process and put focus on this simple, yet typically overlooked, philosophy. This approach will give your team a Competitive Edge.
Be on the lookout for next month’s competitive edge article: Profiling Is OK, When It Comes To Target Accounts.
Brian Gardner is the Founder of SalesProcess360, a coaching, consulting, and speaking company focused on helping industrial sales companies gain a competitive edge. Gardner has been involved in industrial sales for over 30 years. In fact: he was born into it. His father owned an industrial sales rep/distributor company serving the Gulf Coast in the chemical, refinery, and oil & gas industries, and after a brief stint at Texas Instruments, Gardner returned to the family business in inside sales. After 15 years of working through the ranks, Gardner served as VP of Sales until 1999, when he co-founded an industrial sales focused CRM software company called Selltis. Gardner recently started SalesProcess360 to take his passion for sales process improvements to the industrial sales world. To learn more, or to contact Gardner, please visit www.salesprocess360.com.