Untangling B2B Sales Goals – Lean Sales Start with Goals

B2B goals and objectives for lean salesSetting goals is something startups love to do.

We set aggressive revenue goals, customer acquisition goals, investment goals…

…but walk into a sales call?

Often it seems the only goal is to come out with a feeling of self-congratulation.

“It’s going great! They really liked our pitch!”

That doesn’t sound very lean and it certainly isn’t lean sales (whatever that might be.)

When it comes to B2B sales, our ability to set concrete goals is lacking. Even when we make a concrete sales funnel, we often have a vague step called “Follow up” or “Get buy in.”

This is a fundamentally bad practice.

(Shameless plug: I’ve been working with Sean K Murphy on combining some of our ideas on B2B sales and will be giving a first workshop on Jan 29: From Customer Interviews to Enterprise Sales)

Make Goals

Wanda Brownfunnels for lean startups, a sales trainer who coached Luxr’s sales team, told me that if she was on a ride along with a sales person and they couldn’t state the goal of a sales meeting, she’d flat out refuse to go.

So what should our goal be?

Not “arrange a follow up meeting” Something specific. Something that moves the sale down the funnel.

Without something specific, it’s not measurable, and it sure isn’t lean startup.

Know Who You’re Talking To

Technical Buyer - a customer persona for lean salesTo figure out the right goal for each meeting, we need to know who we’re talking to. Is it an Economic Buyer (a.k.a Decision Maker)?

Is it an Evangelist (a.k.a Champion)? Or a Technical Buyer (a.k.a Detail Buyer)?

If we don’t know who we’re talking to, it’s an unqualified lead. Our only goal is to qualify the lead.

Not sure what these different roles are? Tweet me and I’ll write a follow up post:

Hey @trikro Who are the different buyer types? Click To Tweet

Different Goals for Different Stages

Most sales funnel consist of ambiguous and unhelpful terms like Opportunity, Discovery, and Buy-In.

That’s great for sales folks, but I need all the help I can get. So I define my funnel in terms of a simple question:

What should I do next?

So my funnel looks like this:

  • Lead -> Start Conversation
  • Qualifying -> Discover Economic Buyer or Budget
  • Qualified -> Set up appointment
  • Discovery -> Identify Situation, Pain, & Impact
  • Conceptual Agreement -> Send proposal
  • Proposal Sent -> Follow up
  • Invoice Sent -> Track Payment
  • Lost -> Weep
  • Paid -> Celebrate

Each step clearly states the next thing we need to do to move the sale forward.

(You’ll note that my funnel ends when the client pays…not when they say yes. I highly recommend this. I’ve left an embarrassing amount of money on the table by forgetting to invoice.)

Stalled Sales

There are a lot of reasons why an individual sale might stall. But if a large number of sales are stalling in a particular stage of a funnel, it’s an indication that it’s a poorly defined stage in the funnel with no clear next step.

In my case above, I had a large number of sales stuck in discovery and I couldn’t figure out why. I’d get buy in from my contact, but the sales would go into an endless series of meetings that led to more meetings where I’d be introduced to more people who seemed to want to start the sales process all over again!

I had forgotten the other stakeholders, so I added a step:

  • Lead -> Start Conversation
  • Qualifying -> Discover Economic Buyer or Budget
  • Qualified -> Set up appointment
  • Discovery -> Identify Situation, Pain, & Impact
  • Stakeholder Buy In -> Discovery with others
  • Conceptual Agreement -> Send proposal
  • Proposal Sent -> Follow up
  • Invoice Sent -> Track Payment
  • Lost -> Weep
  • Paid -> Celebrate

This helped me identify the problem, and a crucial goal, and start moving sales down the funnel.

Which stakeholders?

Which brings us right back to the question:

Who are we talking to?

For complex sales, there are many different stakeholders with many different needs. We might be addressing these stakeholders at different times and learning about them non-sequentially.

It may not be a linear funnel.

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