25 Oct Why You Should Manage a Sale Like a Project
A few years ago, a Sales Director called me with an idea for a new approach to solve the slow pace of enterprise sales pursuits. She had read a study by McKinsey that found that reps could spend 45-75% of their time dealing with things like proposals and special pricing during a large sales pursuit. This echoed her experience dealing with account managers completely deluged with the administrative logistics and sales taking too long to close. She wanted to see if applying project discipline to a sale would free up roadblocks.
Investing in Sales Productivity Solutions Solves Half of The Problem
The administrative and logistics burden on account managers during the sale pursuit process can grind a sale to a halt.
She runs global accounts in a large worldwide sales organization with very complex long sales cycles. Her company spends millions quarterly to improve sales productivity. They have invested heavily in customer relationship management (CRM) platforms upgrades, new marketing collateral, sales and product knowledge training and new SPIFF incentives.
Despite all this, sales productivity had not increased and it rarely met the expectations of the C-suite. One of the main reasons is that while all these investments are based on multitudes of studies on how to increase productivity, none of these initiatives address the key issue at the core of almost every complex sale.
Close Deals Faster By Applying Project Discipline to a Sale
So, what if your best salespeople could offload all the meetings, phone calls, action item chasing and logistics onto someone who knows how to, and enjoys, managing things like this? Why doesn’t your organization have a project manager focused on executing direct sales? Why not run a complex enterprise sale like you run a complex sales enablement project? A few hours a week of a project manager’s time – devoted to a large sales pursuit – can yield short term results in faster close rates, lower attrition rates and better customer satisfaction.
Increased customer focus improves customer loyalty and satisfaction and keeps competition at bay. Your account reps will handle more opportunities, increase repeat sales, and get referrals. So how does one make this happen?
The Solution – Less Than Ten Project Manager Hours A Week
We did a pilot and introduced a project manager into the sale process on a pursuit that was completely stopped due to cross border and regulatory issues. After spending two weeks understanding the sales process and the cross functional team member responsibilities and deliverables, the project manager was able to offload the logistics in less than ten hours a week.
The project manager lead team calls, tracked action items daily, provided status updates to the Sales Director and ensured that everyone stayed accountable. See tips for success here.
Results! Deals Close Faster with Happier Staff and Customers
Having a virtual project manager focused on facilitating a major sale yielded results within a month. The project manager tracked and followed up on all action items and provided concise, clear reporting on status and risks on a daily basis. The account manager was able to escalate issues rather than chasing them. Soon, meetings become more strategic and less tactical, allowing faster sales cycles and new revenue opportunities.
With the logistics offloaded, the account rep was not only able to close the deal but pursue deals in his other accounts.
The project manager also began dealing with the team on the customer side to ensure that there was collaboration throughout the process. The customer had the benefit of regular status reports and was able to escalate issues they saw as deal breakers.
With the logistics offloaded, the account rep was not only able to close the deal but pursue deals in his other accounts. Customer satisfaction increased. Specialized technical people become more available because they saw a more effective utilization of their time. After the sale closed, the same virtual resource ensured that post-sale fulfilment details for global implementation.
With the ROI quantified, we helped the Sales Director prepare high-level communications and slide decks to promote the idea with senior executives. The sales project support program has since expanded to numerous other sales, partner and vertical teams with results up to 50% increase in year over year sales.