The Front End to a Viable Sales Funnel


The key to a healthy, viable sales funnel begins at Teleprospecting. Determine the number of Marketing Qualified Leads for each Teleprospecting team (I recommend at least 150 leads per person). Then, verify their access to these leads.  Lastly, apply the Teleprospecting Best Practices recommend in my blogs.

Be sure to keep these 6 points in mind, as you establish and expand your teleprospecting team.

  1. The Sales Funnel is King! Instill collaboration between Sales & Marketing to ensure a quality sales funnel. These departments must develop and agree on qualification criteria and other key metrics, to ensure consistent sales funnel growth. Revenue growth will cease without quality Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) and a healthy Sales Funnel.
  1. Hire experienced staff. The Teleprospecting team is most often the first contact a prospect will contact, within a company. Therefore, it is counter-productive to assign entry-level employees to these positions. They lack experience in selling complex solutions and communicating with senior-level executives. With a history of nearly 30 years, experienced professionals are readily available to hire. This is one decision your company will not regret.
  1. Focus Teleprospectors on one Solution. Efficiency begins to decrease as telemarketing teams become responsible to sell & learn multiple products or solutions, especially if they are complex. Focus delivers a quality sales funnel.
  1. Develop and implement Kay Performance Indicators (KPIs), or metrics, to manage a team. Once the KPIs have been established, assign each team to create a plan that outlines a process to reach their goals. This empowers team members to carry out each task and take responsibility to meet their objectives. Managers may work alongside the Teleprospecting teams to ensure the practicality of these plans. These plans also provide a blueprint to manage activities and measure results, for the Manager, as well as the Teleprospector. (See my blog for details here).
  1. Develop a Teleprospecting Playbook. A Teleprospecting Playbook is a set of tools that guide Teleprospectors through the qualification process for Complex Solutions. This playbook must be written and assembled by individuals with sufficient knowledge, such as expert from Product Marketing or Sales.
  1. Build compensation plans that drive desired behavior. A satisfying compensation plan motivates Teleprospectors to excel at their duties. Create compensation plans that focus on the Sales Funnel and generate revenue growth.

These 6 points will allow you to create a strong front-end for your sales funnel. By applying these best practices, your team will produce a healthy, robust sales funnel, providing for an increase in revenue growth.

Alicia Assefa has been managing Teleprospecting and Inside Sales teams for the past 15 years. She is the author of the bestselling eBook “Teleprospecting for Executives Who Sell Complex Solutions”, which is available on Amazon here.

6 Steps to Streamline Your Sales Funnel Process


The Issue with Funnel Bloat

Many of the sales managers I have worked with at over 100 technology companies believed that having more deals in the sales funnel translated to a greater likelihood of hitting their sales goals. While they looked at the size of the sales funnel (revenue potential), they forgot to consider when the deals were put on the sales funnel. They also neglected to determine if the deals were really viable.

In general, the rule of thumb is that sales funnels should be about 3X-6X the revenue objective to ensure that revenue targets are met. Most of my clients showed me sales funnels that exceeded this range. At first glance, I thought that the Sales Managers were doing well at managing sales funnel growth, but as I browsed further, I discovered that 80-90% of the deals were over 2 years old and not viable. Week after week, these Sales Managers would review the deals, and week after week their Reps convinced them that the older deals would close at some point in the future.

The next issue that I uncovered with my clients’ sales funnels was the viability of the newer deals being added to the funnel. After the initial call, Sales Reps should be validating the quality of the lead. Questions to determine viability can vary: Has a decision maker been contacted? Is there real need and pain established? Is the prospect looking at solutions to solve these problems within a reasonable time period? Did the prospect indicate some interest but didn’t have a real need?

One of my clients believed that every prospecting onsite meeting was a true indicator that the prospect was interested in the solution. The Sales Manager required that a quote/contract be left with the prospect after every meeting. When I worked with my client, I found that the Sales Reps did a good job of “showing” the solution. However, they were ineffective at qualifying for need, interest, decision process, and timeframe. This client’s prospects were in the State and Local Government space, where prospects are more willing to meet and see presentations. My client had hundreds of deals on the sales funnel; however, he never hit his sales targets.

Finally, the last issue that I uncovered was movement of deals from the top of the funnel to the “closed” or “closed-lost” stage.  Many deals were stalled in the various stages of the funnel prior to “closed” or “closed-lost” for many months or even years.

These funnel symptoms created a false impression that the client’s sales funnels were healthy and viable. These issues arise when a Sales Manager lacks a good sales methodology or has not made sure that their Reps understand the methodology. In any case, all three symptoms kept my clients from hitting their targets.

6 Steps to Cure the Sales Funnel Bloat

Even though Funnel Bloat can be deadly to a sales team’s ability to hit targets, it can, fortunately, be cured. Follow these 6 steps to continue finding leads and ensure that you don’t fall victim to Funnel Bloat:

STEP 1: Develop a sales methodology that works for your company.

Determine the following:

  • Who are your targets?
  • What pain does your solution solve?
  • What is an average time frame in which most deals should close?

STEP 2: Once you know these elements, figure out the number of stages most of your deals go through. Is the number of stages 5 or more? During each stage, decide what triggers must happen before the deals move to the next stage.

STEP 3: Retrain your team on the new sales methodology and make sure that they understand it.

STEP 4: Take a fine-toothed comb to your current funnel. Any deal that is older than your required time frame, whether that is 3-months, 9-months or 18-months on average, should be removed and re-qualified or put into a nurture program.

STEP 5: Build Sales Engagement tools that support the movement of each deal through the sales funnel.  For example, build an ROI calculator which is easy to use and shows cost savings or build a “standard” demo that can be used by your team in a middle stage to keep prospects interested.

In the final stage, before close, send your prospect a Memorandum of Understanding. The MOU should outline an overview of the prospect’s needs/pains, how your solution can solve their problem, the outlined ROI, and the agreed price. The MOU should also include a date for when the prospect will finalize and legally sign documents and procure the product.

STEP 6: Be ruthless with any deal that is added to the funnel. Your Reps should have to justify why a deal should be added based upon your company’s sales methodology. One of my Sales VP’s used to say, “Get the bad news early.” If there isn’t really pain or necessity, then you don’t really have a deal.

After the cure has been applied, though painful, you will have a viable sales funnel. Once you have a viable sales funnel, you will probably need to ramp up your marketing efforts to get the sales funnel to a level of 3x-6x your revenue objective. Funnel bloat is deadly, so apply the cure and hit your revenue targets.

Is Your Company Complacent?

Over the past 20 years, my main focus has been to turn around lack luster sales and marketing organizations. I have done so over 50 times, and one of the most common phrases I hear from clients is: “It is what it is!”

I have found that when clients use that statement they are saying one or more of the following:

  • They have no control over the current situation and don’t see how things will change.
  • Their situation is too difficult to change and they don’t want to spend the time, energy or resources required to make improvements.
  • The organization is very political and “rocking the boat” is not an option.

In short, the company or team has become complacent. Complacency leads to stagnation. That’s when I’m brought in, to figure out what is happening and to get the team back on track.

Complacency is like a cancer: it can hit fast and without warning. Morale tends to tank and numbers and goals are missed.

Here is what I recommend to cure your company of the complacency disease:

  1. Use a survey to ask your customers and your team how the company is performing  in the following areas:
    – Sales
    – Marketing
    – Customer Service
    – Innovation
  2. Compare the results of the two surveys to find issues and gaps.

Be fearless.  Use the survey to get to the heart of your company’s complacency and lackluster results.  Take the responses seriously.  Make a plan for addressing the challenges, focusing on the most impactful issues first.

When I am tasked with a turn-around situation, I survey every group and review every process that I believe to be important.  I also get customers’ perspectives. The information provides me a way to diagnose the problem and to find a cure.

I recommend that these surveys are done quarterly.  This is a great feedback mechanism and will provide valuable insights, as you turn your company from a complacent organization to a high performance organization.

Teleprospecting at Christmas

This year Christmas is in the dead smack middle of the week and so is the New Year.  On Wednesday, December 25th and Wednesday, January 1st, most corporate offices will be closed for the Holidays.  Many prospects will be in a Holiday stupor days before these holidays begin.  So what is a Teleprospector to do?

As a 20 year veteran of inside sales and Teleprospecting management, I highly recommend that companies give their Teleprospecting teams a well-deserved break from phone work, starting December 23rd through January 3rd. If you don’t have a great sales funnel from leads, you won’t get one at the end of the year.  If you have a very successful Teleprospecting team, who consistently generates a slew of SQLs each month, the leads will sit, untended by sales, because the sales team will be focused on bringing in end-of-year deals.  And in general, it will be more difficult to get prospects on the phone, as they too are trying to close deals, close books and shop (online from their desks) for gifts.

So, what should a Manager do with the team during the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day?  Here is what I recommend: train, refresh, plan and cleanse:

Train: This is a great time to train teams on sales methodologies, call strategies, new products and new productivity tools. Teleprospectors make over 13000 dials per year (260 work days * 50 dials per day).  During all this dialing, skills can take a beating.  Use the 6-8 days around the holiday to do role plays, learn new sales methodologies and up the team’s game.  You may also consider running a “demo” day, where team members learn how to demo your solution.  This is a great way to get the team to grasp what your solution is and how it helps your clients.

Refresh: Use the Holiday down time to refresh the team on your corporate and product message. Over time messaging can get sloppy. If you can, bring in your product marketing expert to run a mini-training to review messaging, updates to your solution and customer stories.

Plan: To ensure that the year starts out right and that your Teleprospectors will meet outlined goals, have them work on their GOSPA or Success plan for the coming year during the Holiday period.  Your team will have several days to think about the goals, objectives, strategies, plans and activities which they will implement to meet next year’s quotas and Key Performance Indicators.

Cleanse:  The holiday period is the perfect time to cleanse the database.  Contacts and companies change a lot during a 365-day period.  Which companies and contacts are still valid?  Who has moved on to a new company?  Which of your prospect companies have been acquired? Which companies should the team target to call over the next few months?  Which leads should go back to marketing for nurture? I advocate that companies do a regular database cleanse and this should be the last cleanse for the year.  During this period, Teleprospectors will have time to research companies and create their list of “call” tasks that will help them to kick-start the New Year.

Making Teleprospecting calls during the holidays can be frustrating.  Your prospects will, for the most part, be in “Holiday” mode.  It will be tough to get people on the phone or to engage them during this time.  Leads that are generated during this period will probably sit for 2 weeks or longer and will need to be re-qualified.

Teleprospecting during major Holidays can be frustrating.  Give your team a well-deserved break from the telephone this Holiday season.  Train, refresh, plan and clean.  Come January 6th, your team will be ready to pick up the phones.

3 Questions to Ask when Interviewing Potential Hires

In this job market, when companies have open Teleprospecting positions (or any open positions, for that matter) they tend to receive a large number of resumes.  The position is open for a reason and any delay in filling it may delay sales funnel growth.  That is why companies feel compelled to get the hiring done fast. In an effort to fill the position quickly, some resume screening occurs and viable candidates are brought in for in-person interviews.  Several key people are asked to interview each candidate to review their skills and to see if they would be a fit for the company.  These interviews happen within the same day. I call this the “Interview Shuffle”.

During the interview shuffle, Teleprospecting candidates meet with several people from marketing and sales.  In some cases, candidates will have a final interview with the CMO, CSO and even the CEO.  Depending on the number of people required to do the interviews, the actual time each member of the interview team spends per candidate may be only 30-45 minutes, at the most.

These are the 3 reasons why I advise my clients against using this method to interview candidates:

1. Who is this person?

In 30-45 minutes it is difficult to determine if the candidate is a good fit for the position or the company.  A series of questions are asked and people who are good at interviewing may wow each interviewer.  When a decision is based on this first series of interviews, I have seen that the hiring manager regrets their decision within the first 3-6 months because the candidate isn’t performing as well as was hoped. Bring the candidate in at least 2-3 times.  Ask the candidate a few of the same questions that were asked during the first interview.  Are their answers generally the same?  Or are their answers significantly different?  Plan the questions that the interview team will ask each candidate.  Make sure that the bulk of the questions are “situational” questions.  Ask questions that require specifics for how the candidate performs their job.  For example:

Question: Give me an example of a typical day at your current job.

Good answer: “I get into the office around 7 am and take a quick look at my activities that I have set up for the day. If there is a company that I need to research, I will take a moment and Google the company before I make the call.”

Bad answer: “Well, in this job, I guess most people start early after they get their coffee and then they start making calls.”

Situational interviewing takes time.  It is the best interview format to uncover if the candidate knows their stuff.  This interview process might take 90 minutes or more for each interview team member to complete.  The time will be well spent because the information uncovered will help you to make a more informed decision.

2. What is the commitment level?

When a candidate is interviewed by the interview team on the same day, there is no way to tell how committed the candidate is to the position or the company.  When candidates are asked to return for additional interviews, the hiring manager has an opportunity to verify continued interest.  Determining commitment level is another reason why the candidate should come back to the office 2-3 times. By doing this, you will see how committed the candidate is and it gives you more than one day to determine if they are the best candidate for the job.  Are they professional and appropriately dressed each time? Do they exhibit a continued level of enthusiasm?  Do they ask additional and interesting questions about your company with each subsequent interview?  If not, the candidate may not be right for the job or your company.

3. What does the interview team think?

There is a Chinese proverb that says “Don’t be over self-confident with your first impressions of people”.   There are many people who are very good at interviewing.  Sometimes these people are great on the job and sometimes they aren’t.  I do believe that managers should trust their gut if they don’t feel good about a candidate.  However, I think that a hiring manager should give themselves some time to see if their first “good” impression sticks.  This can’t be done in 1 day. Bring the candidate back.  Circle back to the interview team to see if they too continue to feel good about the candidate.

The Interview Shuffle enables companies to get their open positions filled quickly.  From my experience, however, this hiring method costs companies time, wastes resources and inhibits a company from meeting objectives.  Too often the wrong candidates are selected and the position is open again within a few months.

I recommend that you have the hiring manager conduct the first interview; taking time to ask situational questions to determine fit. Candidates who pass this first interview should be asked to meet with the interview team and the hiring manager a few more times and over a period of 8-10 days.  This will give everyone time to get a good sense of the person.  If you rush the hiring process you might regret your choice later on. Take a few weeks to get a sense of the person so that you will not have to repeat the interview process again in a few months.

How to Keep Your Team Motivated

two motivated people working hard on their laptop and tablet

A few weeks after school started this year, my daughter informed me that she was “done with school.”  Because she is a straight-A student and only a sophomore at her private Catholic high school, I was very worried and concerned. After many conversations, I found out that she wanted to have more fun and more respect from her elders. I took this information to heart and we made a plan. She is now a happier student, and her motivation has returned.

I believe that motivation has to come from within. What should corporations do to ensure that their employees remain motivated day after day for years? Here are 3 steps your company can take to keep your team motivated and focused:

  1. Survey your employees to get a sense of what gives them satisfaction and a feeling of self-worth.  These surveys should be anonymous. In the survey, ask your employees what they need from the company to feel like they are making a contribution to the company, their families and their communities.  In addition, the survey should address the following:
    1. Find out if they feel respected and appreciated by the company and the management team. Ask them to explain the ways they feel respected and appreciated. Perhaps they would like more responsibility or a greater say in how they perform their duties.  Maybe the team feels disrespected by a certain manager who may need to take some classes in managing people.
      1. Ask your employees if they believe they are working too many hours or feel compelled to work during evening and weekends to get caught up on their work.
        1. Ask your employees if they believe they are working too many hours or feel compelled to work during evening and weekends to get caught up on their work.
        2. Ask your employees if they believe they are working too many hours or feel compelled to work during evening and weekends to get caught up on their work.
        3. Ask if your company has too many or too few meetings. Either of these choices can lead to a lack of productivity and interest.
        4. Once you have compiled the survey results, review the issues and determine how to address them in the short and long run.  Create a “task-force” to brainstorm on the issues and to make recommendations for improving the situation. Be prepared to implement the recommendations in a timely manner. Create a timeline for the roll-out of these recommendations.
        5. Share the survey results, task-force recommendations and roll-out plan with your employees.

The answers may be as simple as providing:

  • Employee training on subjects such as organizational skills, tool operation, or time management.
  • Team off-sites, a few times a year. These should be fun and engaging for your employees.
  • Opportunities for team members to earn bonuses or additional PTO days.
  • Lunch time activities such as yoga, meditation and stress management.
  • Some financial support for those who want to go to University or graduate school.

Companies who stay in touch with the needs of their team members are more likely to have loyal and productive employees. These are the things that success is made of.

I would love to hear how your company addresses the issue of motivation. Please email me your ideas at  I will compile these to share in a future post.

The Best Coaching Session

The best coaching session that my team had was when I was the Director of Inside Sales at an educational software company.  One day, out of the blue, the CEO called me to ask if he could “coach” 4 of my Inside Sales team members.  He wanted me to select two top producers and two under-performing team members.  His plan was to spend 1 hour with each Rep.

He did 3 things that made for a great learning experience for my team and a lasting impression for me, as a manager.

  1. Lead by example.  The CEO started each of the sessions by making phone calls.  He wanted each team member to see how he approached a first call with decision makers.  He didn’t let any of the prospects know that he was the CEO.  He made several calls, while the Inside Rep took notes.  After the first few calls, the Inside Rep was given the opportunity to make calls.  Back and forth this process went, for the entire hour.
  2. Have a goal for your session.  The goal for each team member and the CEO was to generate a meeting/ further conversation with the prospect to uncover need and interest.  The CEO threw down the gauntlet.  Who would get the most meetings, during the hour coaching session?  The CEO beat only 1 team member.
  3. Make it “win-win”.  The purpose of the coaching session was to give the CEO a better understanding of the challenges that the Inside team faced, every day.  He also provided team members with insights on how they might improve their messaging and responses to questions. At the end of the coaching period, the CEO came to my office and told me that he learned a lot:
    1. He didn’t realize how difficult it was to get to decision makers on the phone and the number of dials it took to do so.
    2. The team was far more advanced and knowledgeable than he had imagined.
    3. The energy and spirit of the team was very positive and supportive.
    4. He thoroughly enjoyed the session and if time permitted, he would come back.

I asked the team members how they felt about the session.  Hands down – everyone loved it.  While, initially they were nervous, by the end they felt like they had learned from the top sales guy at the company.  They also felt appreciated and understood.

Coaching sessions should be about improving performance and upping the game.  They should motivate and thrill team members.  Establish the goal of the coaching session, lead the team by example and plan to be amazed by your team.  This will be a “win-win” process for everyone involved.

The Perfect Compensation Plan

predictable revenue growth

Driving Sales Funnel growth, meeting revenue objectives, and getting sales teams to meet or exceed sales metrics are among the many challenges faced by our clients. Quite often, these problems are self-inflicted. Large salaries and commissions provide little incentive for sales teams to achieve the metrics that drive Sales Funnel and revenue growth.

In order to meet your targets, you need to introduce a compensation plan that encourages the appropriate behavior and provides the right incentives for your team to work towards their goal. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the activities that drive Sales Funnel and revenue growth.  KPIs that fail to be established or met, will result in a loss for your target revenue. Example KPIs for Inside Sales might include:

  • Key conversations with prospects that establish pain & fit. Without frequent conversations with prospects, there will not be enough activity to grow the sales funnel.
  • A Sales funnel that is in excess of 3X the revenue objective.  We suggest that clients analyze the sales funnel activity from the past 3-6 months to determine their closing ratios.  Some of our clients have only required a sales funnel of 1.5X their revenue objective, while others have needed a funnel of 5X, to ensure that their targets were met.
  • A pre-established number of demos.  We suggest that our clients determine the ratio of demo presentations to closed deals, to establish this metric.  One of our clients found that 75% of demo presentations generated closed deals.  For this specific client, demos were very important and became a top metric for their Inside Sales team.

What is the best way to ensure that team members meet or exceed their KPIs? Fifteen years of experience and association with over 100 companies, has led us to this answer. The answer: Build a compensation plan with three distinct components: Base Pay, Performance Bonus, and Commission.

Three Components of a Perfect Compensation Plan

  1. Base Pay: Companies with a high base salary often have poor performance within their sales teams. Base salary should accommodate a decent quality of life within said region. Base Salary should not be able to provide “luxury” items, keeping incentive for the team to meet their established KPIs.
  1. Performance Bonus: Compensation plans must provide a pay-for-performance component to encourage appropriate team behavior.

For example: if the monthly KPIs include a specific number of Key Conversations, Sales Funnel growth, and Demos, the representatives should receive a monthly performance bonus for meeting or exceeding these established KPIs. Performance bonuses work very well to ensure that KPIs are met.

  1. Commission: Commission should reflect the achievement of KPIs.

For example: suppose that 5% is the highest commission rate given at 100% of quota.  If a team member has met 100% of quota and 100% of their KPIs, they should receive the highest commission rate.  If not, the commission rate should reflect their achievement of quota and established KPIs.

Appropriate “Selling” behaviors develop when compensation plans are structured around KPIs and Sales Funnel growth.

Mapping the Teleprospecting Process into your CRM

Mapping the Teleprospecting process into your CRM will help ensure that the process is being used consistently by all parties. You need to build a workflow that manages Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)-to-Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)-to-the Sales Funnel process which can be easily reviewed and approved by the Teleprospecting Manager and managed effectively by the sales team. Additionally, this process ensures that your field or inside sales teams are following up on SQLs in a timely manner. Finally, you want to see which SQLs are approved by sales and then added to the Sales Funnel as well as which SQLs are rejected and sent back to Teleprospecting (for follow-up) or Marketing (nurture).

If a SQL is rejected, you need to know why. Rejected SQLs can provide important information for marketing and Teleprospecting managers. Teleprospectors whose SQLs are frequently rejected might need training. If training doesn’t help, they need to be removed from the position. Another reason SQLs may be rejected from a particular industry segment might be because your messaging is off for that target. Rejected leads provide valuable information about your employees’ abilities, messaging, sales acceptance, and targets. Make sure that you capture the reasons for rejection and use this information to continuously improve the process and skills of your team.

Capture the Right Data

When you have determined your qualification criteria, add these as fields to your CRM. Companies often have their Teleprospectors and sales teams put information in a notes section. Most CRMs have notes fields, which are unstructured text fields where data is entered randomly by reps. Reporting on this data is extremely difficult, which prevents a company’s ability to effectively gather market intelligence to continuously improve their marketing and messaging. The randomness of information creates frustration for sales teams who need to quickly assess if the SQL is viable. When specific qualification criteria are added as distinct fields:

  • Management can run reports. For example, if “Key Initiatives” is a drop down field highlighting initiatives that redirect to your solution, managers can get a sense of real key initiatives of prospects. As these may change over time, you are still able to gain insights from this data.
  • The sales organization can have a template for reviewing all SQLs. Once the sales reps get into the habit of checking the information, they will be able to easily assess the quality of SQLs prior to the first call.
  • Teleprospectors can follow the information given while using their Call Guide. This way, important qualifiers won’t be missed as they speak to prospects.
  • The Teleprospector managers can have the information at their fingertips. They can quickly scrutinize SQLs for their compliance with the qualification criteria. If data is missing, the Teleprospector can go back to collect additional details. These details provide an overview of the SQL/Company landscape and are highly coveted by Sales.

If qualification data is crammed into notes, it will be very difficult for managers to validate and quickly understand the quality of each lead. The SQL process slows down and the sales team becomes frustrated as the sales reps are required to read through clusters of unstructured data. Therefore, add the key qualification criteria into your CRM to make this process more efficient. Your CRM will become an easy to manage prospect map that your sales teams will appreciate.


How to Formulate A High-Growth Strategy

Most companies grow through an organic process of making adjustments and improvements as they go. While this process keeps most companies in business, it is difficult to become a market leader without any clear strategy for doing so. Companies aspiring to transcend their competition need to go through a High-Growth Strategy Formulation Process in order to create a viable plan.

The goal is to define a clear, coherent, and effective roadmap that is accepted and adopted  by ALL senior team members. The best way to accomplish this goal is to physically move the best minds in the company away from the constant distraction  of phones, emails, and drop-ins, and have them focus on just the one task of cranking out an effective roadmap to sustainable 100% growth in 24 months.

The preparatory steps are:

  • Set a clear goal of defining a coherent strategy for how the company shall double its revenue within 24 months.
  • Determine who will be involved in this planning session. The end result should be about 10 – 20 of the top people in your company participating  in this effort.
  • Set the time and place. It should give participants enough time to clear their calendars, and the location should be either easily commutable or accessible through company-sponsored transportation and accommodations for the duration of the meeting.
  • Find a suitable moderator to run the sessions. The CEO should focus on the actual work rather than moderating the sessions.
  • Make sure everyone understands that their ONLY priority during the two days of the retreat is to leave with a clear and coherent plan that they are completely committed to.


Day 1: Identify the Optimal Growth Market Segment—Part 1

The most important decision that any company can make toward doubling its revenues within 24 months is choosing what market to go after.

The key is to understand that while the process of selecting a target market is important, far more important is the decision to stick to the chosen market. In other words, the results are far more dependent on the discipline of execution, rather than whether or not the target market was the best choice.

The day’s work is divided into the following sections:

  • Session 1—Select the target Product. Your company may have many products and services. However, for growth strategy planning purposes, only one product or product family will be taken into consideration.  A voting process can be used to determine the consensus around which product should be the primary focus of this exercise. This typically should be completed in the first 30 minutes or so.
  • Session 2 – Select the target End Users. For the target product, open the brainstorming session and ask participants to generate as many possible end users for the product as they can. The idea here is to be able to “think outside the box” and uncover previously neglected potential customers for the flagship product. Stop the brainstorming when the suggestions become repetitive. This should be completed within about 90 minutes.
  • Session 3 – Build Customer Scenarios. Divide the participants into small teams of three members, taking care that no two members are from the same department. Have teams pick as many as five potential end-users for which they will build customer scenarios. The team will take each scenario through the scenario builder to ensure that a rigorous customer scenario is built and ready for evaluation. Someone on the team should be responsible for typing these into a laptop so they can be  easily read and reproduced. Teams should spend an average of 30-45 minutes on building each scenario, or about three to four hours on building about five scenarios.

This should end the first day. So far, the participants have selected the top product, generated all possible end users they can think of, and created compelling customer scenarios for each end user type.

SOMAmetrics has the skills and tools to assist participants in quickly and accurately building customer scenarios.

Day 2: Identify the Optimal Growth Market Segment—Part 2

The goal on the second day is to arrive at the top three target customer groups and rank these from first to third place.

  • Session 4 – Evaluate and score each scenario. The teams will put each of the scenarios they have built into an evaluation and scoring matrix. This will likely take 20-30 minutes for each scenario, or about 2-3 hours to complete all the scenarios and rank them according to their scores.
  • Session 5 – Present the Scenarios. Each team will take turns to present their scenarios, one round at a time starting with their first choice, and moving last to their last choice. Teams should limit their presentation to no more than five minutes per scenario, or no more than 30 minutes total. Assuming there are between 5 and 7 teams, this should take about 3-4 hours to complete.
  • Session 6 – Vote on the top three scenarios. The rest of the day’s work is left for the Voting committee, which reviews the presentations and written evaluations and moves to vote on these—until they have the top three customer segments ranked #1, #2, and #3.

This marks a significant milestone in the strategy planning effort. The company now knows exactly which customers to go after and why these are the best customers for it.

SOMAmetrics has the skills and tools to enable participants to quickly and accurately evaluate and rank customer scenarios.

Day 3: Build the Go-To-Market Strategy—Part 1

The goal for Day 3 is to build an integrated and coherent go-to-market strategy for the top customer group. This includes defining targeted competitors, positioning, pricing, communication, and distribution strategies.

  • Session 1: Identify the Buying Scenario. For complex products, this step is critical in identifying the buying committee that will likely jointly make the buying decision. The goal is to define what the potential issues are for each product and determine what the company must be able to provide to address each issue. This should likely take about 2 hours.
  • Session 2: Identify the key competitors. Competitors come in different types. Some are direct and offer the same product to the same customer group. Others offer different products that provide the same benefit and therefore are viable alternatives. The company should identify all possible sources of competition and determine what it can do to beat these competitors. This will likely take about 2 hours.
  • Session 3: Define the Whole Product. The scenario building would have already provided the must-have product requirements for this customer group. During this session, the team will identify what is already available, what can be quickly built, and what capabilities will take the longest to find.  This is a major section and will likely take 3-4 hours to complete.

At this point, the team has identified the buying team and their main issues; the key competitors that target the same customer group with the same benefit and how to counter that; and what the whole product will need to look like in order to beat competitors.

Day 4: Build the Go-To-Market Strategy—Part 2

During Day 4, the team works through the remaining go-to-market strategy elements. Day 3 has defined the foundational elements that provide the context for the rest of the strategy formulation effort.

  • Session 4:  Define the Pricing Model. The next step is to determine the pricing model and values. Pricing depends on a number of factors, including the value that the company can convincingly communicate to customers, the customer’s ability to pay, competitors’ pricing, and the input cost to the company. Regardless, the goal for high growth should be to ensure that pricing is no hurdle for winning customers. This should be completed within 90 minutes.
  • Session 5: Define the Positioning. The next step is to create a simple, clear, and compelling positioning statement that will serve as  the foundation for all of the company’s communication efforts. This is a crucial step that must be done very carefully. Companies should allow 2-3 hours to come to a consensus on what the company offers and how it is different from competitors.
  • Session 6: Define the Sales Strategy. During this step, the team will determine  three things: how it will sell the product to the target customer group, the top five customers that must be won, and the 12 month and 24 month revenue targets. This session can take about 2 hours to complete.

Day 5: Integrate

The goal of the final day is to integrate the work done so far, and to ensure that each department now understands what it must do to implement the plan.

  • Session 1: Integrate the Strategy. The CEO will present the integrated go-to-market strategy that the team has worked on during the past four days. From now on, the team should focus on implementing this plan into all departments. This will take about one hour.
  • Session 2: Departmental Targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPI). The participants will break up into departmental teams and work on setting their targets and key performance indicators. The first quarter will be devoted to making the transition from the current way of doing business to what the new strategy dictates. This is a critical and pivotal period, and the KPIs should reflect that. At the end of the session, each team will have anywhere from 3-5 sets of eight (8) quarterly departmental key performance indicators. This will take about 3-4 hours to complete.
  • Session 3: Present Departmental Targets and KPI. Each department will present its Key performance indicators over eight (8) quarters. These will be the targets that each department will be committed to delivering over the next two years. Each department will take about 10 minutes to present its KPIs.