As a sales leader, you never want to hear that you are wasting your company’s money. But there are many ways to waste sales dollars – many of which are less obvious than, say, giving away a Tesla to a sales contest winner. Nevertheless, they are all costly to a company.
When you and your sales reps work inefficiently, you’re wasting money. When your reps give your product away, they’re wasting money. And when qualified leads aren’t followed up on in the optimal amount of time, that’s money flushed right down the toilet.
These are 3 very common ways sales teams do exactly that – flush money down the toilet. Make sure your reps know how to avoid these traps!
Forecasting opportunities that won’t close
Every time you create or analyze your sales forecast, be careful that you and your reps aren’t being overly optimistic. Unrealistic forecasts can become a huge time suck for your reps as they work opportunities that aren’t likely to win, and for you as you sort through opportunities to figure out why they aren’t closing.
The key to accurate sales forecasts is having ample historical sales data. Track the right sales metrics to predict which opportunities in the future will win: how long won opportunities tend to spend in each stage, how long their sales cycles are, and how big they are. When you find that your average won deal size is $20,000 and your sales rep is working on a $120,000 deal, talk to that rep about whether that deal belongs in the forecast. The more you train your sales reps to be wary of unrealistic forecasting, the better they will become at qualifying opportunities and the less time and money will be wasted.
Sometimes, the pressure to close a deal can cause closing reps to give discounts to get the deal done. But discounting can actually hurt your business in the long run.
According to HubSpot, discounting shows a lack of confidence in what you’re selling. Sales reps who give unnecessary discounts simply aren’t doing their job effectively – they haven’t shown that their product will add value to the prospect’s business.
The folks at Harvard Business Review agree that offering discounts devalues your product or service – and it also limits companies’ ability to raise prices as the economy improves.
Finally, discounting sets a bad precedent. Think about the Groupon effect: some businesses claim that the discounted prices they agreed on when they partnered with Groupon caused customers to never accept the normal pricing level once their coupon was used. Many of those new customers never came back. This applies to the B2B market as well – customers may not return if they learn to consider your standard prices too expensive or not worth the value.
Discounting can be OK on rare occasions (for example, as a last-ditch effort or with a company you are partnered with), but it should never become a trend. Teach your reps that discounting is generally a bad thing and include sessions on improving price negotiating skills in your sales training.
Taking too long to follow up on qualified leads
At times, the gap between Marketing and Sales can seem like the Bermuda Triangle for qualified leads. If Marketing is generating all these leads, then why aren’t they converting at the same rate? As a sales leader, one of the first things you should do is consider how long it takes for your Sales team to follow up on those qualified leads. Faster lead response times will lead to better conversion rates – the faster the better.
According to a Lead Response Management study, just a 5-minute lead response makes it 4 times more likely to qualify that lead than a 10-minute response time. If your sales reps wait longer than even 5 minutes to follow up on a lead, they could be wasting opportunities that could become deals.
The timing issue can sometimes stem from having more MQLs than your sales reps can handle, which could mean that your MQLs are too loosely defined. To make sure your Sales team is following up promptly on the top leads Marketing generates, work with the Marketing team to tighten up your company’s definition of MQLs or create a more detailed way of lead scoring. This will make it easier for your Sales team to set priorities for lead follow-up and create programs for each score group.
Check out our blog post on Productivity Hacks for Sales Managers for great tips on boosting productivity and making your sales team more efficient, saving those precious sales dollars from being wasted.
Can you think of others ways sales teams waste money? How should they fix it?