Last week we came to grips with some statistics on “below the power line” opportunities – and how salespeople could be wasting a much as 40% of their selling time chasing down the wrong leads.
Now, let’s look at a step-by-step approach to achieving a best in class A/B Ratio.
If you follow the plan described below you can can help your sales team achieve a 1/1 ratio after only one quarter.
After two quarters they can achieve a 4/1 ratio. After only three quarters, they can achieve an industry “Best in Class” steady state of approximately 6/1 (these numbers vary based on several parameters, such as maturity of product line, market share, etc.)!
Note too the significant increase in the effective use of their time.
How can the entire sales team achieve such results? The answer lies in three key integrated programs:
The Sales Executive’s Role
1. First, the sales executive must ensure that their sales stages account for opportunities that are above the power line (the “A” prospects) and below the power line (the “B” prospects). Most do not.
2. Next they should determine what their organization’s A/B Ratio is today, and then establish quarterly improvement goals.
3. Most importantly, the sales executive should use a dashboard that provides goal vs. actual measurements for the A/B Ratio. The dashboard must enable them to “drill down” to any level of the organization to pinpoint today’s gaps that will impact tomorrow’s results. When gaps are found, the sales executive should then work with his/her sales managers to proactively resolve them as further described below.
4. Finally, an A/B Ratio incentive should be built into compensation plans.
Steps Sales Managers Must Take
These steps are some of the most important of all sales management tools. Sales managers should role-play with sellers to improve their ability to qualify their buyers during sales calls and develop the needs of buyers above the power line.
5. The first step is to help them determine if their buyer is above or below the power line. Then, if below, the seller should learn how to negotiate for access to power. This tends to be a very emotionally difficult step for sellers to take during actual sales calls, so role-playing is essential.
6. Also, many sellers do not do well in dealing with above the power line buyers because they lack confidence and/or knowledge about how to develop their needs. Therefore, it is also essential develop role-plays targeted to those buyers.
7. Lastly, the sales manager should make sure that when prospecting, their sellers are contacting buyers who are above the power line to begin with. These three items will have a huge impact on sellers.
What Should Salespeople Do?
8. Salespeople should initiate opportunities with buyers who are above the power line. That alone will have a huge impact on their A/B Ratio. But they must also exercise assertive qualification during their sales calls. This will help them determine if they are below the power line and, if so, enable them to confidently negotiate access to power.
9. They should also have management’s blessing to disqualify opportunities where access cannot be gained. Again, role-playing with their sales manager will do a great deal to teach them how to do it, thereby increasing their confidence.
By following this integrated plan an organization can achieve tremendous results, not just in an improved A/B Ratio, but through many more wins, dramatically improved pipelines, and a huge impact on individual careers.
As the results of our research, summarized in the table below, indicate resolving the problems associated with sellers calling below the power line and as measured by the A/B Ratio, can have a huge impact on sales people and the sales operation in general.