Crazy reasons for losing sales is either management being lazy, management being ill informed or management not understanding the sales process.
Growing your sales is often left to people who are not trained or people who don’t realize they are in a sales role – that includes everyone in your organization who has contact with a prospective customer.
Here’s an example.
In larger organizations, you often get what is known as silo thinking. Silo thinking is where one department has nothing to do with another. Neither really understands what the other does and their impact on the business. No customers, no business!
This happened with a state training provider who specialized in technical training and training for apprentices. The organization as a whole didn’t seem to understand that without students, they had no jobs but no one wanted to take responsibility for bringing students into the organization. This was left to course information.
Being a government organization, many of the staff who gave out course information had been there for many years. Like many other government organizations, they competed with commercial providers. Their role was to provide course information and that’s what they did.
The problem was, they weren’t trained in sales. They simply gave out information, passed on few leads to other members of the organization including lecturers and that was it.
The biggest problem of all was they never tracked what happened to their leads.
It wasn’t until a savvy manager came along and put in a system in place that tracked leads, they realized how dismal the problem was. They only had an 18% conversion rate! Once the leads left the course information people, there was no follow up. When questioned what happened to the leads, these were the crazy reasons why they lost the sale.
- I called and left a message on their phone but they didn’t call back.
- I tried to call but they didn’t answer their phone.
- I sent them an email and never got a reply.
WHAT! This is like burning money for no good reason!
Here are the crazy reasons for losing sales.
Crazy Excuse 1: No one took responsibility
No one was taking responsibility for student recruitment. This included, campus managers, lecturers, administration assistants and department heads. What they didn’t realize was, without adequate enrolments their jobs were at risk. Their thinking was, “that’s not my job, it’s up to the course information people.”
No, it’s not just up to the course information people, it’s the responsibility of everyone in the food chain. Everyone who came in contact with that prospective student had a role to play in their recruitment. If a prospect wants to talk to you whether you are in sales or not, it’s your role to treat them as a very important person and ensure they get the result they are looking for. Your job is ultimately on the line if business doesn’t prosper.
Crazy Excuse 2: Voice messages weren’t answered
Messages were left on individual phones and no one bothered to check them. Or if they did, they didn’t bother calling back.
If you were a student wanting to find out more about a course and were referred to an administrator or lecturer to find out more information, wouldn’t you want someone to call you back? Of course you would. And what happens if no one calls you back, you find another organization where someone will call you back.
Not checking your voice mail is a poor excuse, a lack of self-discipline, lack of training and unfortunately, bad people management.
Crazy excuse 3: They gave up too easily
Seriously, leaving a single message on someone’s phone and they don’t call back! If your job was at risk you would make certain you called back. If your income depended on making sales, you would not give up that easily.
There are many reasons people might not call you back, perhaps your message was a jumbled, mumbled mess. If you don’t give out a clear message and articulate the reason for your call, of course you won’t get a call back.
How many times have you been left a message on your phone and you can’t get the gist of who is calling, why they are calling and what they want you to do. Very often someone leaves their phone number blurting it out so quickly you don’t have time to write down the number if their number is blocked.
Sometimes you may have to call someone 6 or 7 times before you reach them. Life gets in the way. People are busy. They could be at work. Keep calling until you reach them.
Crazy Excuse 4: They waited too long to follow up.
In some cases, prospective students weren’t being contacted for up to three weeks after they requested information. What happens if you don’t follow up, a lead goes cold. You leave the door open for them to contact another provider who is more on the ball.
Often when prospects are looking for information, they are close to making a buying decision. They will end up buying from the organization they trust the most. If one provider answers their questions quickly they are more likely to go with them than another provider who doesn’t respond. In their mind, the prospect will say to themselves, “well if they can’t get back to me, why should I trust them with my business.”
Without new business, profits drop. When profits drop, people get laid off.
Crazy Excuse 5: Emails weren’t being forwarded
One of the systems that was in place, is that course information would receive an email from a prospective student and they would forward the email to the right department, in this case the manager in charge of that campus.
One of the campus managers went on leave for two weeks and had no system for forwarding these emails. They did not delegate responsibility. Therefore, no email got answered until they returned from vacation. In the meantime, many of the prospective students went elsewhere.
How simple is it to leave out of office message on your email system, and give an alternative contact? It’s even simpler to delegate responsibility and automatically forward all your emails to someone who will be in the office and can follow up.
Crazy Excuse 6: No hierarchy of responsibility
In the case of course information, there was no one person in charge. Everyone had the same job description and everyone did the same job, but there was no hierarchy. All incoming emails came to the same email address and whoever was on duty dealt with the query. Problem was, when they left for the day and someone else came on duty, no one knew who or what to follow up on.
You must appoint a supervisor or manager to take clear responsibility for sales results otherwise you have a scenario where employees assume someone else is taking care of bringing in the business. “Not my job” they will think.
Crazy Excuse 7: No clear procedures
In this case, no one had bothered to take the time to figure out a flow chart of what should happen with incoming inquiries. Who takes the call or answers the initial inquiry and what happens next. Inquiries were going into a black hole once they left course information.
There needs to be a clear process for handling incoming inquiries, whether that’s through a CRM database, excel spreadsheet or some other kind of database. There also needs to be a procedure of how the inquiry is tracked all the way down the food chain until there is an outcome. Tracking the inquiry to its conclusion is essential to understanding your conversion rates. If your conversion rates are poor, this is symptom that something is wrong and it needs to be fixed.
Information and statistics give you a very clear clue as to what is or isn’t working. You cannot manage what you don’t know about. When you create processes and procedures to track incoming inquiries, you gain a clear picture of what is happening down the food chain. Knowing what your conversion rates are, and setting goals to surpass previous results gives your people a clear picture of what they need to achieve.
The most crazy excuse of all: Not being customer focused
The craziest excuse of all is not training your people to adopt a sales mentality. They may never ever be in a formal sales role, but everyone in an organization is responsible for bringing in new business and retaining old customers. How? Simply by understanding and serving the customer.
In the same training organization, they had three days when they enrolled students. Students would sign up and pay a deposit and go on a payment plan or pay their tuition in full. Problem was, no one thought about payment procedures when the only person who could set this up would not be working on the final day of enrollments.
The response, “I won’t be working” – therefore no students could pay. A classic case of the whole organization failing to be customer focused. Surely other arrangements could have been made if someone in management had thought this through.
Be customer focused!
Train your people
When employees are living life outside work hours, they will often get asked “what do you do? “when meeting new people. How they respond makes a difference to the overall reputation of the organization they work for. Train your people in what your value proposition is and how to deliver an elevator pitch when asked the question, “what do you do?”
Train your people to understand the relationship between the various functions of the business and how the pieces fit together. When they understand the role they are playing in the overall success of the organization and how department must work together, they are more likely to play their part.
Train your people in the sale process even if they aren’t the designated sales person. By understanding what motivates people to buy, and how the sales process works, it not only helps them contribute to the overall success of converting prospects into customers, it helps them realize they have internal customers they must satisfy as well as they work across functions. Understanding how to sell their ideas to improve operations is equally as important as bringing in new business.
There is no excuse for poor performance and poor results. There are only poor managers and poor systems and processes.
On a final note
When you set up good systems and processes and train your people in sales, you are more likely to grow your business
In a Nutshell
The following are crazy reasons to let a prospects slip through your fingers and do business with someone else.
- Employees thinking it’s someone else’s responsibility’then no one ends up taking responsibility.
- Not answering voice mail messages and following with prospective customers.
- Giving up too easily if a prospects doesn’t call you back.
- Waiting too long to follow up on a lead.
- Not forwarding emails or leaving an out of office message when away from the office.
- Not having a supervisor or manager responsible for results.
- No clear processes and procedures.
- Not being customer focused.
- Not training your people in sales.