What is a sales model? What elements should go into a company’s sales model?
A sales model is a framework of processes that a company uses to generate sales. In his book, New Sales Simplified, veteran salesman and sales coach Mike Weinberg provides a three-step sales model designed to generate consistent sales for both businesses and sales reps. He argues that with his model, any salesperson can become a successful “sales hunter.”
Below is an overview of the three stages of Mike Weinberg’s sales model “New Sales Driver.”
The “New Sales Driver” Model
New Sales Simplified by Mike Weinberg offers the solution to companies’ and sales reps’ struggle to grow new business: his “New Sales Driver” sales model:
- Strategically choose your targets.
- Develop effective tools.
- Develop a plan and act on it.
1. Strategically Choose Your Targets
When choosing your targets, Weinberg recommends looking for potential new customers with a profile similar to that of your best current customers. Ask:
- Who are the company’s best customers?
- What do they have in common?
- What do these companies and their markets look like?
- Where or how can we find potential customers who resemble our best customers?
Target List Parameters
In addition to being strategic, a target list should be:
- Fixed: Zero in on a fixed or limited number of targets that you’ve chosen because they mirror your best customers. Then work the list and keep working it. Don’t give up and move on if you don’t succeed on your first try with a prospect. Most importantly, stick to your prospect list and don’t start pursuing other, non-strategic targets, which won’t be productive.
- Focused: Focus intensely on the category of customers that’s produced sales for you in the past. By doing so, you’ll become conversant in the industry’s or sector’s language, opportunities, and challenges. This, in turn, will help you ask smart questions that build credibility with prospects. With each success, the next will be easier to achieve.
- Written: Have a written, one-page target list literally at your fingertips to keep you focused on your mission. It’s faster and easier to pull out a paper list or spreadsheet than to boot up and scroll through digital pages of a CRM (customer relationship management) system, or to page through an industry directory. Even the act of writing, printing out, and posting a new-business target list on your wall inspires action and ultimately results.
- Feasible: Keep your prospect list short enough that you can give each account enough attention, and long enough to be challenging so you don’t get bored and waste time on other things. Determining the right number of accounts to include depends on the type of business, how easy it’ll be to gain access to each customer, the sales rep’s other responsibilities, and so on. For instance, if you’re selling complex enterprise-level IT software, you’ll need to keep your account list small, perhaps a few dozen accounts, so that managing it will be feasible. However, a telesales rep could handle many more, perhaps hundreds, of accounts for a simple product or service.
2. Develop Effective Sales Tools
Once you have your target list, the next step in generating new business is developing sales tools. Weinberg defines eight key sales tools or “sales weapons.”
1) Your sales story: Your sales story is a compelling, succinct, customer-focused response you give when someone asks you to tell them about your business. An effective story focuses on the problems you solve for customers and the ways your solution is different and better than anyone else’s.
2) The cold call: A cold call is a phone call in which you’re attempting to make your first contact with a prospect. It’s one of the most important and effective ways to get a meeting. While many reps fear making cold calls, you can make these calls with confidence when you know that your target resembles your best customers and you have a compelling sales story to tell.
3) The first face-to-face sales call: Getting an initial meeting with a potential client is the linchpin of new business development. Many reps go into an initial meeting with no structure or plan in mind. They end up talking too much and sounding like every other sales rep. An agenda built around your sales story will differentiate you from competitors.
4) “Discovery” questions: One of the most important parts of a sales meeting with a prospect is asking “discovery” questions to uncover frustrations, problems, and opportunities your solution could address better than anyone else’s. Asking these questions and listening to the answers is more important in the initial sales call than making a great presentation.
5) Case studies: A useful tool in a sales call is having a few case studies of how you’ve helped companies similar to your prospect’s to solve problems and seize opportunities. These examples are strong evidence of the value of your solutions. Similarly effective are third-party testimonials and recommendations, which come across as more credible than touting your own virtues.
6) Team selling: This is when the salesperson is accompanied on a call by senior executives or “subject matter experts” (such as an IT director who can discuss technical details of your solution). Their involvement underscores that you’re committed to getting the prospect’s business.
7) Presentations: Prospects often expect a presentation right off the bat because that’s what most salespeople deliver. However, to make an effective presentation, you first need to ask discovery questions so you can tailor your offering to the client’s needs and interests. A well-planned, customized presentation will make you stand out from the competition.
8) Proposals: Proposals can take various forms. You may have to respond to a formal request for a proposal (RFP). But typically, you’ll have the opportunity to create a tailored proposal for the customer. It’s one of the last tools you’ll apply in the sales process, so it’s important to make it count by sharpening your proposal writing skills.
3. Develop Plan and Act on It
After selecting your targets and developing your key sales tools, the final step in the new-sales model is planning and executing by pursuing the prospects on your list. Many salespeople like to talk about selling, but when it comes to prospecting, fewer actually do it. Three ways to make prospecting a priority and get it done are time blocking, creating a personal business plan, and maintaining a balanced “pipeline” or portfolio of active accounts.
The final step in the new-sales model is planning and executing by pursuing the prospects on your list. Many salespeople like to talk about selling, but when it comes to prospecting, fewer actually do it. Three ways to make prospecting a priority and get it done are time blocking, creating a personal business plan, and maintaining a balanced “pipeline” or portfolio of active accounts.
Block Time for Prospecting
Time blocking is reserving stretches of time for activities that are priorities. Schedule blocks of 90 minutes to two hours at least twice a week for prospecting. (Three hours is probably the maximum you can concentrate and be free of interruptions.)
If you’ve done little or no prospecting, consistently devoting four hours a week to it should significantly improve your results. If you have aggressive business development goals, scheduling eight or nine two-hour blocks a week—still only a third of your working hours—will get superior results.
The keys to successful time blocking are:
- Putting the time blocks in your calendar (don’t just mentally reserve time).
- Treating the time as inviolable and using it only for prospecting.
- Staying on task during the reserved time. Don’t check email or take phone calls.
Develop a Personal Business Plan
Write a personal business plan annually that places a great emphasis on prospecting. Include the following components in the plan:
- Goals: Identify your personal goals for the year—for example, total revenue, revenue from existing versus new accounts, revenue by account, and number of new accounts gained.
- Strategies: Determine how you’re going to reach your goals—for example, cross-sell (sell additional services to existing customers), grow specific accounts, or use methods such as team selling, social media, and events.
- Actions: Commit yourself to specific sales activities, which you can quantify and track by key activity metrics—for example, number of hours committed to cold calls and face-to-face meetings and number of presentations and proposals.
- Hurdles: Determine what potential hurdles you should address preemptively—for example, lack of sales support or too many competing responsibilities.
- Personal development: Identify areas in which you’ll develop your skills and the steps you’ll take to develop them—for instance, improving your writing and social media skills by attending training or seeking a mentor.
Once you have a business plan, share it with your colleagues to create accountability and get feedback. Also review it regularly to make sure you’re on track.
Maintain a Balanced Pipeline
Your pipeline is the accounts you’re working on. Spread your sales efforts over many accounts that are at various stages in the sales process so that hitting your sales goals won’t hinge on one or two accounts that could stall. You should have three types of prospect accounts in your pipeline:
- Targeted accounts are those you’re working on converting to active accounts.
- Active accounts are those where you’ve started a dialogue, and you’re working to convert them into urgent accounts.
- Urgent accounts are those with momentum; you’ve provided a proposal or are about to.
It’s natural to focus on urgent accounts, but you should be working in all categories simultaneously. Allocate about a third of your prospecting time to each. In addition, make sure all accounts are progressing from one category to the next rather than stagnating.
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Here's what you'll find in our full New Sales Simplified summary:
- A step-by-step plan for strategically selecting sales targets
- How to develop sales weapons
- How to consistently generate new sales