As a 5-time entrepreneur and succession planner, I know that the lifeblood of any organization is its salesforce. No matter what industry you are in, a company’s revenue stream is one of the key factors in determining its current value for potential buyers.
For this vendor highlight, I sat down with Bob Foley of Frontrunner Sales Solutions, who has over 25 years of sales experience, to talk about how business owners can improve their sales process and teams to grow their revenue and profit.
Hi Bob, tell us about yourself, your experience, and your business:
I started my career with Westinghouse Electric, in Orlando, FL, as a power plant service engineer. The company was purchased by Siemens Power Generation in 1998, at which point I moved into the commercial side of the business, driving the sale of new power plant equipment in the large utility market.
I moved within Siemens to the automation group where I held various positions including National Account Manager, Regional Sales Director, and National Sales Director.
In 2022, I decided to retire from Siemens to start my own company, FrontRunner Sales Solutions. I focus on helping small and medium size businesses grow revenue and profitability. My services include improving the sales process, customer pipeline management and forecasting, and direct salesperson coaching.
I also serve as a Fractional Sales Leader for customers, directly managing all aspects of sales. I have 30 years of industry experience and have a strong passion to help small to medium size organizations drive for growth.
On your website you mention the importance of having a formal sales process for increasing a business’s overall value. Can you go into more detail about what a detailed sales process looks like with a few examples?
A solid sales process must be structured, consistent, and easy to understand for everyone. This is not only critical to have a smooth operating rhythm for customer acquisition, but also for bringing on new salespeople.
Another critical aspect is having a solid CRM system. While there are plenty of options out there for CRM’s, find one that meets your needs. Customer information tracking, pipeline management, and forecasting are highly dependent on having solid data.
Beyond the day-to-day opportunity management, the analysis of the data in the CRM can provide insights to market trends. Get a CRM that works for your salespeople (easy to use) and works for your business.
A critical part of any business is to have ample pipeline to meet the revenue goals. Based on my 25 years of sales experience, the general pipeline guideline process I use is called a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 method. 33% of prospects will not engage while the middle 33% will seem interested – will engage but in the end will not buy (this subset is a huge time waste for everyone).
Remember there are 2 winners in every pursuit – the one who gets the order and the one who moves on quickly recognizing it as a loss. The final 33% will engage, show interest, and actually buy. As a general rule, your pipeline should be 3 times your revenue goal for any given time period.
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In your experience, what is the usual hurdles you see business owners face when it comes to sales and what advice would you give them to overcome those obstacles?
That is good question. First, make sure you understand and can articulate your company’s unique value proposition. If you had 60 seconds with a potential customer, what would you tell them to differentiate yourself versus the competition? Everyone in customer facing role in the organization should know your unique value proposition be able to quickly communicate it to a potential client.
New customers are more difficult to get. It requires prospecting, lots of starts and stops, and can be time consuming. However, this is uber-critical. I personally never liked having my largest customer be more than 10-15% of the annual goal.
All markets and customers go through peaks and valleys, so being able to navigate valleys with your top customers, you must get new customers in new markets. Focused and dedicated commitment to using a CRM tool will help a company stay on track.
Sales is often considered the lifeblood of any business, yet sales is often the area that businesses spend the least amount of time vetting new employees. Why do you think that is?
Because most business owners are not full-time salespeople. Owners are over-worked people filling in gaps in operations, finance, and yes even as chief salesperson at times. My advice to owners vetting in employees is to hire on the candidates on personal drive. You can teach negotiation, presentation skills, and prospecting but you cannot teach drive.
On your site, you mention the benefits of a Fractional Sales Leader. Can you explain the benefits of working with a Fractional Sales Leader to someone looking to increase their business value?
As a fractional sales leader, I assume overall management of their salesforce through sales pipeline and forecast meetings, and salesperson coaching including individual pursuit strategies.
There is a set of fundamentals that, no matter what you’re selling, will apply to almost any industry. I am here to improve a client’s sales process and allow owners to work “on the business” and “not in the business”.
You mention the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Can you explain the benefits and importance of having a quality and experienced sales team?
A sales team is the tip of the spear. Not only do companies need them to produce orders, but they also need to be the eyes and ears in the marketplace. Are some of your customers struggling? What is the competition doing different? What are the upcoming markets you could pursue? These are sometimes just as critical as an order.
Companies with multiple salespeople need to collaborate and share information. They should help each other for the common good. I always had an element of compensation or performance goal that measured overall sales performance, in my previous roles. This inspires collaboration and does wonders for teamwork.
Often, the biggest reluctance for sales teams is the prospecting process. What advice would you give to help companies and sales teams make this process easier?
As I stated earlier, no one really likes prospecting. It can be time consuming and downright frustrating. But it is extremely important to get potential new customers. Assuming your company is big enough, you need marketing and sales to work together towards a goal. You need to separate your MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) and SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads). Sales needs to be working SQL’s, and marketing needs to nurture MQL’s until they become SQL’s. So, what is the difference?
A SQL is a lead where customer is genuinely interested in the product or service and most importantly has a desire to make a purchase. Rule of thumb, a prospect needs to be “touched” 9-15 times in MQL stage to validate their interest. This can be phone calls, e-marketing, webinars, or requests for information.
Until a lead is turned into a sales ready lead, keep qualifying it. Sales also has a responsibility to not only provide feedback on SQL’s turned over (good or bad) but help drive the marketing group to the right markets and customers. It is a two-way street, that both groups need to own.
When it comes to quality sale people, you often hear about the importance of them having a network of quality connections. How important is it for sales staff to maintain relationships and what tips do you have to help salespeople maintain their networks?
LinkedIn has made it very easy for people to get and stay connected. Connect with your customers and comment on their posts. Follow your competitors. Post new products and services your company offers. There is a mountain of good data just waiting to be used.
The best marketing for any company is absolutely a happy customer. They can be a reference customer for you. Salespeople should obviously pursue the order, but do not stop there. Once you make a sale take them to lunch, ask them about their experience, see how they are doing. Stay connected with your customer and ensure that their buying journey is awesome.
Finally, where can people find you and work with you?
Primally, I work with small and medium size companies that need help with sales. I can build your sales process, drive opportunity development and forecasting, coach salespeople, and provide overall management of your sales team. You can contact me at my website:
Bob Foley, President of Frontrunner Sales Solutions
I also have a free sales assessment that anyone can take to see where their sales process stands and where they can make improvements.
You can take that here:
Sales Agility Assessment® | Sales Xceleration