How To Save Money With A Common Customer Code

A while back, I wrote an article titled “Taking Control Of A Volatile Sales Flow”; where I laid out a sales pipeline management plan unlike anything you may have seen. It was in this article where I expounded on the importance of defining phases of the sales cycle (A – in closing position, C – Important transitional background work required, or B – unknown prospect position), and the best practice methodology required in order to manage the efforts and devotion of time by the sales team.

Now let’s expand management and coordination of marketing and sales by defining specific qualifiers that should be used to analyze revenue phases as it relates to the schedule required for the business plan (assuming you have a plan).

Over the years within my own companies and as a “Strategist” consultant, creating ‘profit’ plans with clients; I developed a revenue phase model, beginning with marketing to prospect discovery and progressing through the sales process, to secured revenue and beyond.

I have analyzed companies that use very basic revenue phase qualifiers to those that model very sophisticated qualifying data. No matter if you use CRM software or a yellow pad, proper analysis results in only 3 phase categories of when and where revenue can become part of the ‘business plan’. Even if you add sub-phases within each category, and many will, these three phase categories correlate to the proper management of the pipeline.

1. Genesis Phases: Strictly to avoid the proverbial ‘wild-goose chase’, this phase can have as many qualifiers as necessary, but essentially serves as a filter.
For example: Your company can only provide products and services to companies with more than 25 employees or companies with > $10 MM in sales, etc. (add as many zeros as needed). When an opportunity qualifies to be in the Genesis Phase, the lead is moved into the funnel and to the next Genesis Phase or to the appropriate Nurturing Phase.
2. Nurturing Phases: The Nurturing Phases have no time parameters, and it’s where leads are developed into solid relationships. After all, statistics indicate that it can take 8+ exposures / contacts just to get a meeting with a potential customer. These are leads that are nurtured with varied interactions until sales-ready, i.e. collateral materials, social network marketing, presentations, demos, etc.
3. Delta Phases: The delta phases apply when there is a definite amount of time in which closing the sale is formalized, i.e. overcoming objections, contract presentation, bid proposal, simply asking for the sale, etc. Upon reaching the final delta phase, which is the post close attempt [stall] position, the customer opportunity needs to be evaluated, determining if they should be returned to a Nurturing Phase, setting a ‘fish or cut bait’ time parameter, or moved out of the pipeline altogether.
For example: When a customer is determined to be “Delta ready,” the assigned sales representative / team, has X days to achieve closing the sale. The result of that action determines the next.

Designing a best practice revenue phase model is based on 2 basic assumptions:

A. Sales Cost Money: The Delta Phase should be reserved for those that have ‘earned’ the right to be there, e.g. sales reps should not engage with prospects until prospects are prepped. This includes even the smallest of companies where the sales rep, wearing multiple hats, is the only contact through all phases. However, sales engagement is down low in the pipeline, where customers have passed through lower cost phases, i.e. marketing and relationship development.
B. Decide And Act: Management must make sure customers / opportunities are moving forward (down the pipeline), being cycled back, or removed from the funnel.

I recommend that you have a minimal number of nurturing phases and perhaps only one related to marketing, to ensure that there are no places for customers to hide or be forgotten.

A key benefit to the development of a revenue phase analysis model is that it establishes a common code throughout the organization, providing a common status interpretation of any customer opportunity and a defined set of subsequent actions, and quantifying the results of any marketing or sales program effort.

I might add; if you don’t like keeping score, play a game where results don’t matter.

Author's Bio: 

The Strategist, Ron Hequet; Consultant, Speaker, Coach and is considered one of America’s Leading Authorities on Small Business. Ron has successfully founded, owned and operated 8 different organizations in 6 different industries, and has worked with clients across the U.S. in as many as 20 different industries.
Ron’s Private Mentor, Coaching Programs and Achievement Resources for implementing success strategies and tactics, are guaranteed to attain results.