Number 6 on the list of improvement goals from survey of VP of Sales in the Semiconductor and Component industries is improving the win/loss ratio. Definitely, a critical goal needed for improving efficiency and productivity in these lean times. The consistent themes I gained from discussions and other research on this issue are summarized below:
- Profiling target accounts to improve chances of success
- Implementing a system to rank target accounts
- Knowing when to walk away from a bad opportunity
- Open communication to allow for success sharing and best practices sharing
- Methodology for tracking, reporting on and maintaining visibility of the win/loss ratio
A great example of the first two bullets is found in Miller Heiman’s sales methodology. Miller Heiman recommends developing a rating system for a set of characteristics that your ideal customers possess. It is a good idea to start with a list of your best customers today. For example, the list may include company size, market position (leader or follower), key differentiator (hardware, software, service, brand etc.), high growth mode or maintain revenue mode or any number of characteristics you decide on. Develop a simple 1 – 5 or 1 – 10 rating system for each characteristic and grade every customer prior to engaging with them. Focus on the high scores first and improve you success rate. It works, you need to be diligent, take the time to create relevant characteristics and refresh the system at least annually.
Knowing when to walk away is another key to improving the win/loss ratio and one of the most difficult for most of us in sales. We sales types tend to be thick skinned and have a never give up attitude. Great attributes but they are not conducive to creating efficiency. No magic bullet here but I recommend SPI’s Solutions Selling or Customer Centric Selling as great examples of sales processes that help with techniques to identify opportunities that are a waste of time. Make the techniques you decide on part of your sales process that everyone follows but make them broad enough so you are not forcing sales people too far out of their comfort zone.
The entire list above is greatly enhanced through implementation within a Sales Automation or CRM system. Create the account profile and ranking system within the account tracking portion of your system. Your sales process in the opportunity tracking portion and the system will inherently allow for tracking, reporting on and creating visibility of the win/loss ratio. The more detail you design your system to collect from both a sales process and loss standpoint the greater granularity and the more useful your results will be. Finally making your SFA or CRM system an integral part of your company’s culture will also provide the open communication system for sharing of best practices and success stories. Good Luck!