What’s in Your Funnel?

126776Many sales managers ask their sales reps, “What’s in your funnel?” It’s a good question but is it enough to hit the targets? In a past life when I managed several reps it was always a challenge to understand what individuals were working on without taking substantial time to do it effectively.

There are four distinct roles for the sales manager:

  • Supervisor
  • Trainer
  • Coach
  • Mentor

Unfortunately most managers operate in the Supervisor role with their salespeople. The fact is if you want to upgrade your people and help them be successful the roles of Trainer and Coach is where you should be spending your time. Since we all only have 24 hours in a day and we want to have a balanced life, the question is how do we balance the roles so we have more time to train and coach?

The supervisor role needs to establish benchmarks with each salesperson. Everyone is different and has unique circumstances, therefore needs to be managed individually. To do this an understanding of the stats involved in each account list or territory is essential to ensure it is managed and that there is buy-in for the goals, plans and behaviours required to make it successful. Each list and rep has unique circumstances including the number of accounts, the goal for the territory, the maturity of the list or territory, the ratio between selling to servicing, and many other factors.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to say everyone must make ten cold calls daily however it’s not a one size fits all world in most sales teams. Some people have senior accounts that take more servicing time; junior reps might be in growth mode. The behaviors should reflect the circumstances.

For example, when I started in sales I had no clients so I was in total prospecting mode. I literally made 40 cold calls a day. Now we have a more mature business and supply training, coaching and consulting in several areas of business development. Time management is critical. That doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned prospecting, but my prospecting has changed.

I tracked my behaviours and initially for every twenty cold calls I made, twelve of those expressed some interest. Of the twelve, eight were qualified for a meeting to have a more meaningful discussion. Three of the eight were qualified to have a presentation and of the three, one became a customer. Those numbers and the ratios of the categories have changed remarkably over many years. I don’t make as many cold calls but the qualifying is stronger and the close percentage is higher. There are many reasons for this but the critical element of the exercise told me what I had to do daily to be successful.

When you’re working with each salesperson on their formula – what we would refer to in Sandler as your “Prospecting Cookbook”, consider each individual’s current client base, closing ratio, experience and average sales.

What does your salesperson’s customized cookbook look like? How many calls do they need to make each day in order to hit their target? Have your team track their behaviors like I did and review it consistently – ensuring the “what’s in your funnel” conversation will be constructive and deliver results.

Pat Heidrich

Pat Heidrich is the CEO & Owner of Sandler Training, North Carolina