Have your SQLs suddenly dropped? Or, maybe they’ve been stagnant for far too long without signs of growth? Driving sales is essential to running a sustainable, profitable business. Unfortunately, it can be frustrating when the same processes that have always worked suddenly stop showing results.
Whether you’re already seeing signs of decline, you’ve struggled to get off the ground at all, or you’re trying to be proactive about growth, now is the perfect time to audit your B2B sales strategies.
Assess How Past Quarters Performed Against Sales Forecasts
At the beginning of your auditing process, it’s important to establish a baseline for comparison. Take a look at past performance and how it differed from your expectations. Are you frequently seeing a dip in Q4? Have your sales numbers never met expectations? Look for trends in your performance and match them up with the efforts you’ve implemented.
You may begin to see trends in how the time of year or specific sales strategies impact your performance. Similarly, you may find that you’ve been a little too ambitious with forecasting.
Look for takeaways that can be applied forward. For example, if you’re frequently seeing a decline in sales during certain quarters, look at how you can re-focus your efforts on functions like retention during those times. Similarly, if you see that a specific strategy isn’t effective, stop investing effort implementing it, and look for other strategies that are driving sales.
Audit Sales Prospect Quality
There’s often a disconnect between sales and marketing teams in which Marketing feels they’re providing loads of viable prospects that aren’t being followed up on. Meanwhile, Sales feels the leads they’re receiving aren’t ready for outreach. This disconnect indicates it’s time for your teams to sit down and audit the quality of recent prospects. Explore which leads were good fits and closed quickly, compared to the poor-fit leads who Sales didn’t even contact.
For further methods of measuring your lead quality, read Auditing Your B2B Sales Funnel – Recommended Process and Tips. By understanding who converts and how, you can audit your upper-funnel’s success rate of capturing the right individuals.
Work together to define MQLs and SQLs, then build an SLA between your teams. This should define which team provides what. Essentially, Marketing should agree that the leads they hand off meet the qualifications laid out by Sales. Likewise, Sales needs to agree that they’ll follow through on their process to connect with provided leads.
Along the same lines of auditing prospect quality, take a look at your personas (and check out our example SaaS Buyer Personas for guidance). More likely than not, each persona will require different outreach tactics, nurture sequences, follow-up strategies. Similarly, different personas will have differing timelines to close.
Pair qualitative insights with segmented metric performance to further inform your audit. Do some personas reflect prospects that will sign-up for free trials but never convert? Does a select audience fail to respond to your content marketing? Pair such data with the most important question of all, why is this the case? It could be that your sales methods or product fail to address important priorities, or perhaps it’s that the audience is a poor fit. Candid conversations with your sales team (and competitive analysis) could provide crucial context.
Explore which approaches work best for each of your personas and make a plan for your sales and marketing teams to implement these varying strategies effectively.
Not all prospects will be your ideal customers. You may be hesitant to start weeding leads out before moving them down the sales funnel, but you’ll ultimately save your team tons of time and energy, as well as improve your overall win ratio.
Identify Knowledge Gaps In Your Resources and Sales Team
If a large number of prospects that are handed over to your sales team ultimately say no for the same reason, you have a gap in your acquisition content. Your top of funnel marketing content should qualify good-fit prospects by educating them around your product or services. This doesn’t just mean highlighting the best parts of your offering — it also means highlighting the reasons you may not be a good fit for someone.
Similarly, if your sales team is often unsure of the answers to prospect questions, you need to enhance team education. Explore how you can provide additional training to increase your team’s product knowledge as well as provide resources that can help them during sales conversations.
Keep in mind, this step of the auditing process especially pertains to channel sales, as partners won’t be focused on familiarizing themselves exclusively with your products. Make sure you’re making the most of their limited bandwidth with a carefully curated onboarding process. Tools like Allbound help you track training engagement and subsequent quiz results as they relate to lower-funnel activities like deal registrations and generated revenue. Sales data in hand, audit and refine your partner training methods so you promote the most effective and eliminate the worse.
Collect Qualitative Feedback
While the numbers don’t lie, they also don’t tell the entire story. Collecting feedback from your team and customers can help you understand the reasoning behind different sales metrics. One effective strategy is using a call recording tool, like Gong.io to listen back to conversations and create a feedback loop with your direct and indirect sales teams.
You should also conduct closed-lost interviews to explore why prospects said no and where they ended up going instead. Similarly, you can connect with closed-won clients to explore what made them say yes, what their expectations were, and any opportunities for improvement throughout the process.
Identify and Remove Barriers to Productivity
There are many reasons your sales team’s performance may be faltering. From overzealous sales goals to a lack of product resources, take the time to identify and remove barriers to productivity.
If your sales strategies and lead handoff workflows are inconsistent, your sales team will struggle to drive results and will likely waste a lot of time having to strategize each client interaction. Look for opportunities to standardize and bring consistency to your team’s workflow.
An often overlooked barrier to productivity is the lack of motivation from your Direct and Partners sales teams. Is your commission structure lackluster? Would SPIFF campaigns light their rapidly dimming passion? Your B2b sales audit should highlight such questions, if not provide answers. Collect feedback from trusted individuals and consider testing the ROI of a sales competition.
As discussed above, a disconnect between Sales and Marketing can also reduce your team’s productivity. Instead of working on closing a deal, your team may have to waste time in the nurture or education phase that marketing should have handled.
Take Inventory of Your Existing Tools
Your sales team should have access to tools that support their efforts, not make their jobs harder. Take inventory of your existing tools, like your CRM and PRM. Are they working for your team or against your team?
Your CRM should make it easy to track and nurture prospects, while your PRM should support a multiplier effect with your partner ecosystem. These tools should be easy to use and fit naturally within your team’s daily activities. Similarly, they should remove some of the aforementioned barriers to productivity by implementing automation and consistent workflows.
Another important step of the sales auditing process is to reassess your choice in software; what may have been the leading solution five years ago may no longer have the best offering. Another consideration is whether you have the right combination. If you have too many tools that offer overlapping features, you’re overpaying. Similarly, if your sales processes require five tools when one would do, you’re bogging down internal efficiencies.
Drive Exponential Results with Enhanced B2B Sales Processes
It’s a good idea to regularly audit your B2B sales methods, not just when results are faltering. Take the time to evaluate your performance as compared to forecasts. Look for trends across your closed-won and closed-lost accounts. Additionally, work to remove barriers to productivity, including tools that may be doing more harm than good.
Allbound is a Partner Relationship Management tool designed to support your channel partner sales efforts. Follow us on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends, best practices for partnerships, and resources for expanding your channel.