Not only are unpatched leaks in your sales and marketing funnel costing your company money - but they’re creating a bad impression among customers.
Inviting a lead into a leaky funnel is like landing your dream date and losing them amid the crowd at a funfair. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression (Cotton candy for one, please.)
Somewhere between creation and close, you’re losing your most attractive prospects. And not only that, you may not even be able to put your finger on why they’re losing them.
This is a missed opportunity pitted against the challenges of customer retention. For example, 254,000 UK gas customers and 319,000 UK electric customers switched providers in January 2018 alone. Sales leakage has the potential to seriously cost utilities companies.
Let’s put that right.
In this article we want to take you, step-by-step, through an effective approach to sales leakage analysis. Whether this is the framework you’ve been waiting for - or the one you never even knew you needed - we hope you find it useful in your evaluation.
- Step 1: Make a list
If you ask most executives if they have a sales process, they’ll immediately say yes. But when you ask them to describe it their descriptions will vary wildly. That’s why, as the first step in a sales leakage analysis, it’s important to be clear about what your sales processes actually are. The most direct way to approach this would be to conduct no-holds-barred interviews with the stakeholders.
You may find it helpful to break this process down into one channel at a time, speaking to sales manager about the unique challenges they face. An examination of each area will give rise to questions around team performance, channel sales, and the effectiveness of the business processes themselves.
For example, is a process further up the chain causing a headache? Are shortcuts springing up between teams? Anything that causes disruption or disturbs the fine balance of your channel sales could be the conflict affecting your bottom line.
Perhaps it’s your telesales scripting that’s at fault – but then again, it could be the system you use to create orders. Maybe it’s your website’s user experience – or maybe it’s all down to lack of product knowledge among the sales team.
You might, for example, ask your telesales manager to point out inefficiencies affecting their team’s ability to make sales. This may lead to pertinent insights that would be hard to spot from a high-level perspective, e.g. “It took too long to verify the customer’s credit card details and they dropped the call.”
- Step 2: Ask the dropped leads - backing yourself up with data
We recommend supplementing stakeholder interviews with conversion analysis of channel-specific sales data and consumer research (e.g. incentivised surveys of customers who dropped out of the sales funnel). If you have access to data on customers who failed to close with you, now would be the right time to make a helpful inference from that datastore.
Consumer surveys in particular are an effective way to discover weaknesses of specific types of salesperson. You may learn, for example, that your field agents have all of the product knowledge and none of the intrapersonal skills it takes to push leads over the line. Are they being too efficient with their time, leading the customer to feel pressured? Is it that they are failing to handle customer paperwork correctly?
Insights like these will also be available through your complaints handling team.
- Step 3: Assess inter-departmental communication
Sales processes and sales people aside, one of the most common reasons for leakage is poor interdepartmental communication. If you're one of the utilities still working with numerous software packages and platforms, across multiple business areas, you'll understand this well.
According to a study by ICD, over 80% of sales, HR and procurement leaders say problems arise because different departments have different internal systems and applications that don’t “talk” to each other. The effect of poor communication cuts across your business like a knife. It can directly lose sales through errors, delays, and inaccuracies in data collection (rendering a lead useless.)
Look at the ways the different teams within your sales process interact, and consider whether that setup is having a negative impact on sales. If so, you might consider bringing together all your communications within a single digital system, to solve multiple issues in one radical stroke.
Another key area to probe is whether your processes are as fully automated as they might be, within the boundaries of customer expectations.
- Step 4: Adjust your company’s pressure valve
How increased sales will affect your team is a problem worth considering. Most sellers would agree, it’s also a problem worth having. However, there is no point fixing leaks if you’re not ready for a higher volume of sales. How would the company cope if sales increased by the exact percentage that they are currently being lost?
You need to be optimistic - it’s a rational way to prepare for what happens when the same number of sales leads enters a more efficient sales system. Preparing your HR team for an increase in sales can be done through sales and campaign data analysis. How have previous increases in sales affected customer wait times and the rate of utilities installations? How quickly, and to what extent, have new hires affected those metrics?
Another key question is how to maximise the value and momentum from the increase in sales. Now would be the ideal moment to look into marketing techniques such as referrals, collecting digital customer reviews, and any other activities which may magnify the benefit of customer acquisitions.
Conducting a sales leak analysis has the potential to not only to help you plug gaps in your sales processes, but also to plan ahead. The future is one where sales are stable, losses are minimal, and revenue is predictable.
If you have any questions on this, or any Utilities-related queries, please get in touch with the team:
Grace Moore/Amy Keith