“Don’t put the cart before the horse.” We’ve all heard the adage and understand its meaning. To do things correctly, one must have a process where things are done in a particular order – first things first. Most people don’t put their shoes on before their socks or drink their coffee and then add cream and sugar, but when it comes to the sales process, we have found that some companies mix up front-end prospecting with closing sales.
It’s not that they don’t know the difference, of course; it’s just that they tend to invest more heavily in salespeople than in the front-end prospecting/hunting functions. The front–end processes build the foundation for and continually fill the sales pipeline with qualified opportunities. If you don’t have a process to fill the pipeline and secure appointments, who are your sales reps going to meet with? When your investments are heavily skewed toward the sales team, you are essentially putting the cart before the horse.
Once you have an established front-end process, then outside sales reps can be added as they are required—and only to the extent that they are required. Over the years, too often we have seen companies that are top heavy with outside salespeople who are working autonomously.
These sales reps are spending time on solution design with the engineering team, quote development, and meeting with current existing customers at the cost of prospecting. Some might find time to prospect but most aren’t very good at it and/or hate doing it, so it isn’t a priority. This, of course, impacts the company’s bottom line.
What does a front-end sales process require?
The top row of this diagram shows the essential components of a strong front-end sales infrastructure. These are the areas where investments in time and money will be required to create a steady flow of sales-ready leads into your sales pipeline.
Additional tips to help you succeed:
- Goals—Have clear sales and marketing goals – see “Do the Math: Hitting a Home Run With Your Sales and Marketing Goals”
- Processes—Processes are essential to ensure consistency and metrics for feedback and adjustment – see our article “New Business Development: Creating A Detailed Road Map For Success”
- People—A clear division of labor is required–make an investment in the right people for the jobs – see “Is Your Sales Person Really Selling?”
- Targets—Accurate target market profiling is essential; you can’t close sales if you are wasting time on the wrong targets – see “Best Practice Approach to Accurate Target Market Profiling”