Tuesday, 21 June 2011


What is a pipeline?

Something to pump stuff through? To put under roads? To send oil off shore?

In those settings, who knows, and who cares. But when talking about a sales pipeline there's a lot I can share. I've noticed with some recent engagements over the past couple of weeks, there seems to be a little confusion on what exactly a sales pipeline is. Well here is Boiler's definition:

A Sales Funnel Report presents a 'snapshot' of your sales function at any given point in time. For conceptual purposes, the sales process is often compared to a funnel, where new leads coming into the system (i.e. prospects) are placed into the top of the funnel - the widest part. Then, they are worked through the funnel by informing, persuading, overcoming objections, providing information, demonstrating, providing free samples, etc., etc. until, at the narrow part of the funnel, an order is placed, and a sales is closed, when payment from the customer is received.

The funnel framework works fairly well because for all new leads that are generated by our marketing efforts, there is a closing rate that represents the sales that ultimately result. The number of resulting sales is usually significantly less than the number of total leads generated. Therefore, it is useful to think that as leads work their way further down the funnel, there will be less and less of them coming out the of narrow end as sales.

One important thing to note is that organizations define each phase in the sales process (or part of the funnel) differently based on their authentic sales process. It is also interesting to note that the pre-defined ‘sales steps’ in an off-the-shelf whiz-bang CRM system don't allow for this kind of customization. Working through the funnel each step should have clearly defined criteria so there is specific knowledge about all leads at every particular stage (questions and rules need to be developed for each step). In other words, leads become more and more qualified as they work their way through the funnel, and you should be able to articulate exactly what's required at each specific level of qualification.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that the funnel is a great way to track and forecast sales (hear that leaders, a real forecast, wouldn't that be nice?), as well as, gauge marketing activities. We at Banjar believe there is one step that should be in all funnels and that is the stage of OPEN prospect. When does someone move from being just a prospect to being an open prospect? Open to a sales process with us that is real. When are they open to this really?

By running a Sales Funnel Report, the sales manager can see how many leads are at each step, if there are any 'bottlenecks', or if there are an insufficient number of leads at any stage. It allows the sales manager to check the sales effectiveness of the team. Armed with that knowledge, the sales manager may instruct his or her sales force where to focus more attention to keep sales at the desired level (that’s called coaching). He or she can then also work closely with the marketing manager to ensure they are generating enough leads to hit sales goals, whether the leads are of high enough quality, or what further needs to be done to hit sales goals.

If you do not have an active sales pipeline that reflects your actual sales process ask yourself why? Too accountable for sales? You don't know how to do it? My favourite, "We are still putting in a CRM system".

Would you drive your car with no dashboard? So don't drive your sales the same way, blind!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Are you a LINO

Two weeks ago I attended and spoke at the Australian Mindshop Conference in Sydney. Our keynote was the Western Bulldogs President David Smorgon of the famous Smorgon family business.

What a story he told of growing up, endurance, life skills, hard work, innovation and eventually selling his family business in its prime.

In the middle of this keynote he commented on the person that created the most anger in him and his businesses over the years, the LINO'S.

It stands for 'Leaders In Name Only'. LINO.

He went on to describe their characteristics:

  • They are there by default
  • Resist change
  • Lack awareness
  • Love developing process
  • Manage by fear
  • De-motivate teams
  • Rarely take responsibility for anything
  • Always take on more duties than needed
  • Rarely innovate
  • Love titles (like Sales Director)
  • Avoid conflicts

Are you a LINO leader or do you have one in your business? If so can they change? Are they holding a strategic position like Sales Manager, and their sales team just not making target? Ever wondered why? Look closely for these people as they are good at hiding.

David went on to comment that these people had a knack of avoiding scrutiny but when fully understood and revealed, had caused incredible issues for the business. Leaders by title have a duty of care to manage, lead, inspire, create, innovate and guide, but most of all, they must create an environment where all in it have the opportunity to grow and thrive. That builds great brands, organisations and communities.

Do a check on your LINO suspects and take action before its too late.


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A Sales Manager's Game Plan

When I observe the sales landscape it amazes me how difficult it is to uncover sales managers that really know what they are doing!

Overwhelmingly the successful managers all have one thing in common: a GAME PLAN!

As Essendon devotees celebrate the coming of James Hird and his new coaching panel, I got thinking they would have a game plan. A well thought out, considered, actionable game plan!

So, what should a sales managers GAME PLAN look like for sales teams?

1. Based on a Philosophy – What’s your philosophy as a sales leader, a coach and mentor of the team? As the sales leader it's no longer about you, it's about the achievements of the sales team. You create effectiveness and success by coaching and leading them with a common goal and vision.

2. Simple Games We Play - The great Alan Jeans, AFL legend from Hawthorn, had the simplest game plan. There were three states of play:
  • We have the ball,
  • They have the ball,
  • The ball is in dispute.
With this in mind, what are your key pillars, actions or foundations for sales success? Maybe it is just ‘retain and grow’ or simply ‘seek and gain’.

3. Activities and KPI,s to deliver the results - What does this team have to do to deliver this plan? Statistically, what amount of kicks, handballs and tackles does the team need to achieve targets and sales success.

These rare individuals have a firm grasp on what it is to be a sales manager – they have a clear understanding of…
  • What sales management is?
  • What their role is?
  • What sales effectiveness look like?

It is obvious the success of a sales manager is reliant on the success of the sales team. Overall, the key here for Sales Managers is: have a clear GAME PLAN and KEEP IT SIMPLE.