Tactical Steps to Improve Your Sales Funnel

Last week, I wrote about the theory behind these sales tactics. You should review that first if you’re interested.

The key is being able to identify an ideal prospect and ‘know’ who you are communicating with. There’s a simple way to determine a qualified lead from an unqualified lead: ask the people involved. Now let’s figure out how to ask. I’m going to ask you to do a quick exercise. If you are not sure this exercise is worth your while, you can ask any of the FileMaker Developers in Seattle, Portland and Santa Clara who attended user-group meetings last month. It’s the same exercise we started with there.

Exercise

Write the word ‘DESPISE’ and underline it. Now, think about the projects you’ve worked on and the ones you’ve not landed that caused a strong and negative visceral reaction. Think especially about the projects you almost landed and the ones you knew, in your gut, that you wouldn’t get. Consider everything about the project. Brainstorm on this for 15 minutes or so. Here are some starter questions:

  • Which projects have you avoided working on? Why?
  • Who do you dread calling? What about them made this so?
  • Which projects gave you heartburn (literally)?
  • What tells you in the first five minutes of talking to a prospect that they’re ‘bad’?
  • Company Size
  • Industry
  • Who from the prospect company is involved?
  • What technologies are at play?
  • Where did you meet them?
  • What’s their communication style?
  • How do they pay?

Now, below your long list of things you despise about projects, write the work ‘LOVE’ and underline it. Again, think about the projects you’ve worked on and the ones you’ve not landed that caused a strong and positive visceral reaction. Consider everything about the project. Brainstorm on this for 15 minutes or so. Here are some starter questions:

  • Which projects kept you so excited you couldn’t put them down? Why?
  • Who do look forward to speaking with? Why?
  • What tells you in the first five minutes of talking to a prospect that they’re ‘great’?
  • Company Size
  • Industry
  • Who from the prospect company is involved?
  • What technologies are at play?
  • Where did you meet them?
  • What’s their communication style?
  • How do they pay?
  • Prioritize your list. Identify the top five or six items.

Identify how you can bring these topics up in the first few minutes of conversation with a prospect. I’m not advocating you script the first phone call; however, planning your first call is critical. You need to know what information you’re after and few ways to get it. To start with, I’d draft a couple questions regarding each topic. During the conversation, you can ask the questions as they’re written or adapt them however you see fit. But you must cover these five or six areas to know if this lead should progress to the next stage of your sales funnel. Should you be spending more time with them or referring them elsewhere because you’re not a good fit?

Keep these criteria and questions near the phone where you typically have the first phone call with each prospect and USE IT to screen out prospects who will eventually say ‘no’ anyway. You’re going to find the ‘no’ sooner.

This is simple stuff. But, that doesn’t necessarily make it easy; so, I’m including real examples from Skeleton Key’s own input from this exercise.

Jason Thomas manages Business Development at Skeleton Key.

About Skeleton Key

Skeleton Key is an accomplished team of technology consultants who solve business problems. We specialize in the rapid development of custom applications, integrating Macs and PCs in the professional workplace, and providing personalized training.

Despite our end-to-end technical skills, we are consultant first and technologist second. We know that you don’t just need technology. You need to know that the technology you choose to deploy will provide the results you desire.

Skeleton Key is a Platinum Level FileMaker Business Alliance company, an Authorized FileMaker Trainer, a member of the Apple Consultants Network and a Microsoft Registered Partner.

Invest Time On Leads That Will Become Sales

I may be crazy for publishing this but we’re putting our money where our mouth is. Skeleton Key advocates for transparent business practices. Have a look around our site and you’ll see it everywhere. I’m going to pull the curtain back on our sales process. If that makes you uncomfortable, you have all the more reason to keep reading.

For the sales gurus out there, I realize that I may be pointing out the obvious, but somehow all of this stuff becomes less obvious as we start ‘selling’, i.e. we can tend to focus so much on convincing a prospect to work with us, and wondering if they ‘like’ us, that we forget the simplest things.

Sales is a Process.

It’s not magic. You must approach the concept of selling knowing that you can identify specific steps that roll up into discrete stages. Doing so enables you to improve upon each success (or failure). The sales process generally begins with a ‘lead’ which means you and a prospect mutually agree to discuss their needs. From there you gain an understanding of the prospect and they gain an understanding of you and that ‘lead’ may enter the next stage – ‘opportunity’. The process continues through a few more stages (which we’ll cover down the road) until the lead eventually becomes a ‘sales’.

Invest Time On Leads That Will Become Sales

The sales process is frequently depicted as a funnel because there is a natural law of sales that you’ll have more leads than opportunities and more opportunities than sales. Unfortunately, most people in sales see it as their job to push leads from one stage to the next – trying harder and harder to make something happen. On the other hand, we can use the funnel metaphor to our advantage by recognizing that not every lead is suited to become an opportunity and not every opportunity is suited to become a sale. Instead of pushing leads down the funnel towards the next stage, we push leads that are unlikely to become sales out of the funnel earlier.

This saves HUGE amounts of time and energy and allows you to focus on the leads and people you should be working with.

Stay tuned for specific action items to apply these concepts in your sales funnel.

Jason Thomas manages Business Development at Skeleton Key.

About Skeleton Key

Skeleton Key is an accomplished team of technology consultants who solve business problems. We specialize in the rapid development of custom applications, integrating Macs and PCs in the professional workplace, and providing personalized training.

Despite our end-to-end technical skills, we are consultant first and technologist second. We know that you don’t just need technology. You need to know that the technology you choose to deploy will provide the results you desire.

Skeleton Key is a Platinum Level FileMaker Business Alliance company, an Authorized FileMaker Trainer, a member of the Apple Consultants Network and a Microsoft Registered Partner.