You've crunched your client's numbers. You've evaluated where they were overspending and addressed their lack of documentation, but if they have inefficient sales processes, little else matters.
It's the root of their problem, and unfortunately, there is no getting around it. If that much-dreaded conversation doesn't happen, their cash flow will go from inadequate to non-existent fast.
In this article, we show you how to set the stage for more effective communication about sales efficiency numbers.
Spotting Inefficient Sales
You know inefficient processes when you see them.
- Revenue trends are declining.
- High sales costs are leaving your client with minimal returns.
- They're paying to store inventory when it's leaving the warehouse at a snail's pace or, worse, expiring.
Your clients need to see how inefficient sales processes have hindered their success.
Providing them with a profit margin analysis can help them understand just how slim profits are. It demonstrates why any inefficiency cuts so deeply into their profits.
Sales growth trends show them they're not outgrowing this problem. If they don't make a change, they'll stay stuck here, which isn't a good place to be.
Then inventory rates bring to light just how much they're wasting on inventory they can't move month after month. Maybe they thought they were getting a tremendous per-unit discount by increasing their order size, but holding costs have them spending more.
Preparing for the Conversation
Gather the relevant data and insights (such as those listed above) and have them on hand. This will prepare you to confidently discuss hard facts, not speculation. Make sure you assess the impact on the client's financial health too, this way you can show them the trajectory they're on.
Define clear objectives for the discussion by narrowing in on what you want them to get out of this conversation and outlining what you think the next steps should be.
Creating the Right Approach for the Conversation
Consider the right time and setting for your client. You want to avoid having this discussion when they're overwhelmed with other priorities or in a place where they can't give you their full attention.
Go into this with a client-centric mindset. You know how each client needs to receive information.
- Do they need you to cut to the chase, or do they prefer a softer approach?
- Are they a visual person that needs to see charts and graphs?
- How are current industry trends impacting their sales efficiency?
Open the dialogue positively and address concerns empathetically. Be careful not to sound like increasing sales efficiency is a piece of cake. It can be tough for any business, but that doesn't mean we can't work together to find solutions.
Back up your suggestions with the data and evidence you collected and encourage client participation and feedback. What's not working for them? How can you adapt?
Don't Leave the Conversation without Providing Solutions
Always come into the conversation with possible solutions.
Analyze how potential solutions will impact their numbers and show them why it works! This is especially important if you're asking them to invest in technology or other resources to fix their sales problems. They need to know the ROI makes it worth it!
Collaborate with the client to prioritize and implement changes by coming up with an implementation schedule together, agreeing on it, and helping them stay accountable. That way, they stick with the plan.
How to Handle Resistance and Client Concerns
Emphasize the importance of efficiency improvements and the long-term benefits. Reassure them you've run the numbers and be sure to forecast scenarios where they do or don't implement changes to improve their sales efficiency.
Talk to Clients About Inefficient Sales with Confidence
Few discussions are more challenging to have with a client, but they are essential for helping them face and overcome inefficient sales processes.
Make sure you're prepared for this discussion with a deep understanding of the problem and viable solutions. Have the numbers ready so you can show them where they are vs. where they could—no, should—be if they increased sales efficiency.
Keep those channels of communication open with your clients and help them plan and implement effective improvement strategies. Your role in your client's life and business isn't simply to keep track of the numbers. It's to help them grow with the tools and tactics that you know work.