This week on the Wednesday Edition of Talk Business With Howard on Blog Talk Radio (at 11 AM/Eastern Time), the guest will be Mark Sellers, author of the bestselling book, The Funnel Principle. Thank you, Mark, for being a guest on the show and for sharing this blog post. Looking forward to an interesting conversation about how CEOs can effectively use the sales funnel. – Howard-
Smart CEOs Are Getting Smarter About Selling by Mark Sellers
If a CEO ten or twenty years ago rose up through the sales ranks to the top of the heap he or she was probably a smooth talker, had lots of charisma and didn’t take no for an answer.
Today’s sales savvy CEOs have more than a sliver tongue. They have new technologies for understanding sales trends even before sales happen, things like saas based customer relationship management programs, sales analytics, lead nurturing campaigns, and more. Many of these technologies help CEOs know the true value of their company’s sales funnel.
A sales funnel used to be something the salesman used, right? Put enough leads into the top of the hopper, work them through the process and close them. Whatever the salesman used to hit his numbers was fine, as long as he hit his numbers. A CEO was not involved in the funnel and this wasn’t a problem.
Today’s CEOs have become sales funnel savvy because the information and insight it provides is critical to running the business. Today’s sales funnel is an enterprise process that rolls up from every salesperson through the managers, regions, up to the vice president of sales, and to the corner office.
CEOs use the funnel to forecast accurately. Their reputations and jobs are on the line every quarter. Even CEOs of privately held companies need this to report to their boards and provide strong leadership. The right sales funnel process lets CEOs forecast accurately.
CEOs use the funnel to plan and approve investments in certain resources and assets to grow the business. The funnel gives the CEO insight to the health of the business to help him or her do that.
They use the funnel to coach and mentor personnel. If a business needs a $100M funnel in March to hit the budget at year end and the funnel only has $65M on it across all salespeople in all regions the CEO can talk intelligently to the Vice President of Sales about possible countermeasures to get the funnel healthy.
The pivotal change that made the funnel a board room, CEO level topic can be attributed to customers. Instead of having a sales funnel that is based on a company’s selling process the sales funnel of today is based on the customer’s buying process. This is one of the most dramatic shifts in selling in decades. Companies that are good at selling to their customer’s buying process tend to have more accurate sales funnels and they forecast more accurately. It prevents salespeople with ‘happy ears’ from overstating the value of their funnels.
This so called ‘buycycle’ sales funnel gives these companies and their CEOs ‘leading indicator’ information about the real value of the sales opportunities their salespeople are chasing. The CEO looks at the company funnel and has a much better, more realistic measure of future revenue stream that could result in the next 60 or 90 or more days.
The last five clients that have hired my firm were purchases initiated by and driven by the companies’ CEOs. They recognized the value of having the right sales funnel, process and insight.
If you’re a CEO and you want this kind of insight you need to gather your team and go talk to customers. Ask them how they buy from you. Ask them how well you sell to the way they want to buy. Then figure out what changes you should make to the way you sell.
Make sure your sales funnel is designed around how your customers buy. Then commit to changing your training and coaching and reports in whatever it takes. This isn’t an overnight, offsite 2 day meeting fix. It’s a journey.
Warning! This won’t be easy though it sounds very simple. At the heart of this approach, selling to the customer’s buying process, is not tools or technology. It’s a way of thinking. And when your sales force has spent the last several decades selling the way they want to sell don’t be surprised at getting push back to changing the way they currently think.
Mark is the CEO of Breakthrough SalesPerformance. Mark is hired by B2B companies around the world to get their sales teams to qualify better and faster, win more sales, and build healthier pipelines. The foundation of Breakthrough’s sales methodology is an innovative, game-changing approach of selling to the customer’s buying process.
Mark is considered a sales thought leader. Breakthrough’s methodology was introduced in Mark’s book, The Funnel Principle.
Mark is a frequent blogger, guest speaker for webinars, and contributor to sales industry mediums such as Selling Power magazine, Customer Think, and the American Business Journals newspapers.
Join Mark and me on Wednesday, January 23 at 11 AM/Eastern Time for the live broadcast of Talk Business With Howard on Blog Talk Radio. To go to the show page on Blog Talk Radio, click here. Or bookmark this page to listen to the show replay which will be posted at the top of the page on Wednesday afternoon.