Need to Improve Revenue? Run a MRI on Your Business Today
By Mark Allen Roberts
When I ask CEO’s and Sales leaders: “how do you plan to end 2020 strong and hit the ground running in 2021?”…I receive a variety of responses. Some have plans and specific strategies and tactics but the majority are more focused on this month and this quarter.
I spoke at the NAW event in Washington DC last year before the pandemic and asked a room of CEO’s and business leaders to raise your hand if you felt with 100% certainty your sales organization has the skills to hit your sales and profit objectives in 2020…. not one hand was raised. This was concerning but not surprising.
I have helped organization improve their sales and deliver more shareholder value for over 30 years.
CEO’s and CFO’s have always expressed a concern that sales are more of a dark art than a science.
For years I have heard: Why can’t sales run more like my plant with systems, processes and deliver predictable results?
In this post we will discuss how to run an MRI for your business now and strategically pivot and lean into the data to structure, train and coach your sales team to drive the outcomes leaders desire.
You have a smart team and with good, up to date data you can build strategies that deliver the results you want and need.
There was an interesting article in the Wall street Journal some time ago about a reporter who wrote about healthy lifestyles discovering he had a blocked Carotid artery although he was not currently showing any symptoms.
As I read this article it reminded me of how many teams I have served were experiencing small symptoms of problems but needed to dive deeper to find the root causes and heal them.
Many CEO’s and sales leaders I speak with have issues just below the surface in their businesses that need a business health MRI to identify them.
Let me ask you a few questions:
What if we could provide a data driven scan for the health of your business today?
What if this scan could predict your business’s future health if things remained the same?
What if we used a scan of your businesses health today that could help us prevent your business having a stroke and or going out of business in the future?
What if we had a Business MRI and we could scan your business and share specific areas that need to improve before they become fatal?
For over 35 years of my career I was hired to “fix sales problems”. The first thing I would do with each client is gathering and assessing data from various parts of the business and your markets and determines the organizations’ overall health.
Organizations have strong leaders and senior leaderships teams who if they had unbiased, unfiltered data can and will create short term and long term plans to adjust to current market constraints.
This process has been the same with each team I have served and I believe it is more critical now than ever given the change so many of us have experienced.
Could common sales clots be forming in your pipeline today that will cause a sales and or profit stroke in your business or worse?
If we could run a diagnostic scan of your sales and your overall business health what would we look for?
I would suggest seven areas of your organization to scan to give your leadership the data they need.
Here we capture things like how your buyers buy and why they buy from you and why they don’t. What is your net promoter score? Capture how your buyers are buying today and what criteria they need to make a buying decision. We spend time understanding your customer’s business and their economic drivers as well as whom their customers are.
Systems and Processes
Does the team have a Sales Plan? Do you have a formal Sales Process that is buyer centric? Are the systems in place to support profitable growth that provide salespeople valuable insights to prescriptively growing their business? Do you have a CRM and why or why not are sales using it? Do you have a strong sales support focus to ensure customers have a strong buying experience?
Does the team have a strong digital marketing competence? (If not you must accelerate this now) I suggest running a value proposition audit to ensure you clearly understand what your buyer’s value after the last 90 days of disruption. Do you clearly understand the various buyer personas of your customers and decision makers and have you equipped sales with the right tools and messaging for each? How active is your website? Is your website found and does your site speak in the language of the channels you serve?
Here we look at all the sales support tools ,systems and processes to ensure they are aligned to drive profitable sales growth while making it easy for customers to buy from you. Do you have a sales enablement function? If not who is responsible for helping sales improve their success? Does sales have the right tools for each stage of the sales process? Does your sales process mirror your buyers buying process today or is it out-dated? When we look at sales support we also look at the skills of sales management and sales leaders. Have they been trained in the new skills to grow from rep to manager? Do sales managers know how to coach? Do they want to coach and more importantly how effective is their sales coaching?
We want to determine things like what do your salespeople believe about things like: pricing, quality, selling, business outlook, accountability and motivation? Ultimately we are determining if your sales team knows how to sell and will they sell? Do they have a high emotional intelligence and empathy? Is their focus to produce value for their customers as trusted advisors or are they commission junkies just focused on their goals?
The main focus here is to determine by salesperson and sales manager if they have been trained and do they have the sales skills needed in your market of today? Do they understand how to sell based on value and not just price? Do they feel comfortable asking strong qualifying and discovery questions to get to the root of the buyer problems? Do the sales people know how to negotiate and close? Can they shape their conversation style based on the personality of the buyer? Are they comfortable creating a business case and talking about money? Do they know how to have insightful conversations with various influencers all the way up to the CEO? Are the right people based on skills and mindset in the right roles?
Metrics and Data
Here we dive into the data often buried deep in your servers and CRM. We look at things like on boarding new sales associates and time to revenue. We review KPI’s (leading and lagging indicators) and are they the right ones for the business today and in the future, by sales role. Naturally we look at sales, profits by salesperson, by customer and by channel. What is the cost of sales? Cost per lead? What is your net profit by customer today? What is our close rate average and by team member? What is our market share and share of each key customers’ wallet? What were our planned and unplanned sales associate turnover in the last 24 months? Does your team have a strategic pricing system or just a common margin for all products and services?
Once we scanned your organization for all of the above, we diagnose the overall health of your business today and predict the future success of your organization. We are establishing a data driven current state for your business health.
Most of the teams I have served have a much clearer vision of their future state they desire than the current state they are working in today.
We look at your business and customers today then create a plan and connect the dots between your current state today and where your team desires to be in the future.
I hear some of you saying: “Wow Mark that’s a lot of work, I am already buried in work and so is my team how will we find the time to gather this information? “
Or another common concern: ” This sounds like a pretty big change and we are not typically strong at change management.”
My challenge is if not now when?
If you have been following any of my articles or attending my webinars there is a powerful sales effectiveness instrument and data gathering process to gather the above.
We leverage technology to gain the insights we need to shape a healthy strategic business plan for the future.
If you want to DIY your business health assessment have at it. Many teams will try to gather everything they need but find themselves distracted by today’s challenges and the flaming trashcan of today.
Another challenge to doing this data gathering yourself is with the rate of change we are experiencing in this VUCA economy by the time you gathered everything yourself it may not be relevant anymore.
The other consideration you must assess is the organizations culture if you want to DIY your sales and profit health project.
Your organization culture is like the blood flowing throughout your body. It touches every organ or as in this case every person, process and system.
When we assess a culture we look for things like: Is the culture innovative or are they defensive and protecting the fort? What is the team’s comfort with change? Do the senior leaders have a fixed mindset…” the way we have always done things around here”…or open to new ideas and a growth mindset? How is the organization structured? Do they have business silos? What is their decision making process? Do they have a continuous learning culture? We need to understand any deep biases early and introduce data before we begin developing our business health plan.
My recommendation is you want a 3rd party to give your business a BMRI so the data is not biased.
There is a tremendous value of hiring an outside heretic when it comes to adding value to your bottom line. They gather the data and share it without a filter and politically correct biases.
“Smart experienced teams when presented unfiltered data make strong strategic sales and profit plans.”
– Mark Allen Roberts
If you want help running an MRI for your business now and have the data to make strategic pivots let’s chat.
Healthy businesses will survive now and thrive in the years to come!