### Part I – Probability and Process

Any successful person learns process and probability – business person, athlete, gambler, sales person, etc.

Process — What’s the strategy; what’s the game plan; what’s the method/system/…?

Probability –  based on conditions presented, what action has the best probability of success?

Let’s apply this to closing ratios or going after the right prospects and opportunities.

Here are the probabilities for making sales:

•         Existing Customer – Existing Products/Services – 67%

•         Existing Customer – New Products and Services – 50%

o       (80% if they helped develop it with you)

•         Old or Loss Customers

o       40% Existing Products/Services

o       25% New Products/Services

•         New Customers

o       Existing Products/Services – 25%

o       New Products/Services – 5%

As a benchmark, the poorest sales person will sell 30% of qualified leads (those opportunities that will actually buy and have a good fit with your products/services) just by rattling around out there with prospects and existing customers.

So do the math.  Where should you invest?  The answer is all of these, but your investment in time and dollars should follow these percentages.  I like to use Las Vegas as an example.  They play the percentages, and as far as I see, they make lots of money.

All the clients I work with in my sales consulting firm have the same common goal – increase sales.   So, the first concepts I coach is to know the sold and unsold potential for your products/services by region and by customer.  This provides the focus of what’s out there.  Then qualify for most likely pursuits.

Now “sold and unsold potential” is not a marketing research assignment.  It is a simple task that each of your sales people should do in his/her region.

Start with an Excel chart and list all existing clients down the left column.  Across the top row, list all the products and services you sell. Include new or potential products as well. Use categories of products/services if there are lots.  Check off with a “+” the  products/services each customer buys and note your percentage if they also buy competitors.  Leave blank all the services and products

they don’t buy from you, but could.  Draw X’s through those boxes that don’t apply or fit at all.  Don’t use dollar or quantities. You just want a simple visual.

### Do this exercise with your Customer Service/Engineering/Tech Support/Operations people. These people many times know more or have easier access to the client’s people than the sales person.  They can be a wealth of information about what going on inside your clients’ organizations.  Later they can be a great source for introductions to high level people.  Do this exercise at least twice a year.

Now list all the old customers.  Here the rows will be empty.  Make a note of what they use to buy from you.  Then list competitors’ customers.  Note what they buy from the competitor and things they don’t buy from anyone, but could, or do it themselves.  Finally list those that do everything themselves or you’re not aware who/if they buy from.  This is your Opportunity Matrix – a visual of all the sales you could theoretically make.

Your first mandated action is to keep the existing business.  This is where my book – TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER\$ will help.  It shows the actions needed to develop the relationships and leverage to retain and grow existing volume, as well as, get their other opportunities you don’t have.

Now look at all the other accounts you don’t have in the rest of the region.  It’s overwhelming I’ll bet.  So start prioritizing based on the statistics above. Note how much business is available from existing customers, either the competitors’ share, or services they do themselves that you could sell.  Then analyze the rest.

This manual, written exercise is necessary.  One must know his inventory of sales opportunities in order to have control of growth.  Once one knows what’s out there, s/he can build action plans for keeping existing business and capturing other potential opportunities.  Cover every account in every customer category, but do it per the stats above.  For example with a new customer you may want to do a low cost mailing campaign.  For a competitor’s customer, you may want to do some phone research to find the right people and then contact them (phone or in person) to learn their likes and dislikes of the competitors.  For existing customers you should be spreading through that organization like a virus, meeting all the people impacted by your products/services, especially all the senior managers to learn likes/dislikes, issues, opportunities.  Note effort/time allocation levels.

Every opportunity has to have an action associated with it, even the 5 %’ers, and a date of completion.  Otherwise, it will be overlooked and ripe for a competitor.  Different people should

be responsible for different types of actions.  For example, Marketing does the mailing for the specified list of low potentials. The sales person calls the competitors’ clients. Customer Service/Engineering/Technical Support gets the sale person introduced to the clients senior managers.  However the sales person is the coordinator to make sure each action by others is accomplished.

Sale management should review the Opportunity Matrix and Funnel of Actions for each sales person to be sure all potential opportunities are covered and know who is responsible for the

scheduled actions.  Managers should also review time allocations to be sure sales people are spending time on each category of opportunity in the right proportion.

I often hear, “We do this at the beginning of each year.” or “We have to report this every month.”  My question is, “Do you forecast every month or do you report the actions you’ll do to insure the forecast will happen?”  Usually it’s the former.  The focus or management has to be how well the opportunities are being attended – not forecasted.  Besides, low and moderate potentials are never forecasted.

This review process has to be every 6 weeks at least (for no more than an hour) and sometime sooner for short cycle types of sales.  Again, I hear, “I’m going over opportunities daily with my people.”  Yes, and this means you can cover those opportunities quickly.  A dedicated territory review needs its own space.

Two documents are required; 1 – The Opportunity Matrix and 2- The Funnel of Actions for each sales individual or territory.  Try to integrate them into the mandatory stuff or try to get the mandatory stuff changed.  Managers can then manage the actions in the monthly review which is far easier and better than managing the person.  The outcomes will be (1) a reality check of whether the sales will be made as forecasted; (2) an appreciation of behavioral and/or selling skills deficiencies for each sales person; and (3) a vision about the future – what is being done to make successful.  The manager can then begin directing, coaching and/or correcting before expected sales and opportunities are lost.

This is how to become proactive and in control rather than reactive.  That is hoping inquiries come in and jumping on anything.  This will also eliminate managing the number (hoping the good territories cover the bad to make the number.)  “Hope is the dope …”

Since existing customers are the best place for growth, as well as, referrals and reference sites, Part II of this article will cover how to get the most from existing clients.  It will also address the best approaches to old customers, competitors’ clients and new or self op’s clients.

In the meantime get it on paper.  This makes it real and success can be measured. Otherwise, it’s still hope.

Bonus Tip:   FREE E-Book “Getting Past Gatekeepers and Handling Blockers”.  Just click this C-Level Relationship Selling Link http://www.sammanfer.com/GatekeeperEbook.htm . Sam Manfer makes it easy for any sales person to be effective and feel comfortable connecting with and relationship selling C-Level leaders.