The hard part starts now – it’s time to implement the tight focus you’ve been working on and keep your sales force (even if your sales force is just you) focused on selling to the ideal prospects you’ve identified.
On the surface, it’s an easy task; you just don’t let them sell to any prospect that doesn’t fit the ideal prospect definition. In practice, it’s a lot more difficult, because if you’re not careful you’re swimming upstream against human nature.
I’ll start by discussing the methods you can use to insure that you and your sales force are selling to the right prospects, and then talk about how to motivate the behavior you want.
The first thing you need to do is to provide them with the information and tools they will need to be successful using the new focus. Show your salespeople how you arrived at your definition of market segments; why these segments are more attractive than others; what the value proposition is for the segment; and what the new sales approach will be.
Then apply the discipline you’ll need to make the focus work. One way to begin is to assign prospects from the list you developed to each salesperson and limit them to working with those prospects. You should include weekly reviews of all opportunities each salesperson is pursuing and requiring them to show weekly progress on them. You might also withhold proposal assistance or not allow management sales calls on deals that don’t qualify. Whatever methods you use, you must discipline yourself and your sales force to concentrate on those high-probability prospects you’ve defined.
You can make your job a lot easier if you align your sales compensation structure with your new focus. You will not be successful if your salespeople think they can make more money by opportunistically chasing deals that are not in your new focus; you will always get precisely the behavior you pay for from salespeople. Here are some ideas to help you with compensation:
- Lower your commission rate on sales, and replace it with a significant bonus for each new target account sold. This will make selling to target accounts much more lucrative and attractive to your salespeople and will substantially reduce their level of interest in opportunities that are not in your sweet spot.
- Provide some kind of financial award for references from satisfied customers from your target list to further sweeten the pot for salespeople who are selling the way you want them to.
- Encourage the focus on these target accounts with recognition, praise, and awards to those who close the greatest number of new target accounts.
There’s one additional very important element to the motivational side of the equation. Management at all levels must be absolutely bought in to the new focus. You can’t have any recriminations from anyone when a salesperson walks away from what looks like a large opportunity that doesn’t fit the ideal prospect criteria. If management isn’t committed, your sales force won’t be.
Please leave your comments – I’d really like to know what you think of these ideas.