SM: Yes, selling to SME is a different game. People, Process. Like you said, it is different from the traditional bag carrying sales people who know how to do five deals and make their quota for the year … that just does not work in SME. It takes a different type of sales person to be successful. They need to be comfortable and disciplined with regards to logging and tracking.
AS: That is a major shift for sales people, especially for those of us who have been in the field for 20 years or so. There is a whole new bag of tricks, and there is a whole new set of customer demands and issues. Those who can make that shift are going to be very successful, and those who can’t are going to find they are not very competitive anymore.
SM: Forecasting is also a whole different issue … if you remember I was doing a turnaround at one point where it was all supposed to be Telesales, and the team was missing numbers by grand percentages. At one time they missed the forecasts by 70%, and they had no idea what they were forecasting.
AS: Sales is a discipline. There are things you have to pay attention to and understand. You must know what deals are moving in and out of the funnel and the pipeline, and what stage people are at with each deal.
SM: One of the things I found very helpful in regards to that was understanding what the relevant stages of a sales cycle were and getting entire sales team on the same page regarding those. If I had a funnel starting with 500 accounts, I wanted to know what the five, six or seven steps were which would get me to the close. I also wanted to know where each of the accounts were in that process. Then, you attach probabilities to closing both based on stage and by account.
AS: That is a very important point, just defining and understanding a sales process. Having common definitions for each stage, and what actions are taken at each stage. Not only in regards to what the sales rep does, but what the customer does at each stage as well, and how to hold each other accountable and move to the next step.
SM: Yes, the proverbial Next Step. That next step is very important, because it allows you to engage and forecast. If it is stage two, then you know the probability that the sale will close in a given time frame.
AS: Exactly, you can start to see how long it takes to get from one stage to the next, what percentage of your accounts move, and all sorts of really important metrics which can help you see what stages are under-performing, what you need to improve on, where you need to do training, and maybe do some more marketing. It is very powerful to have that kind of visibility.