In any sales office the regular sales meeting can be a weekly frustration for many. To solve the problem it is wise to set some rules and practical processes.
Here are some of the most common problems with poorly planned sales meetings:
- No set agenda
- The team leader loses control and let’s emotion drive the facts discussed
- The person running the meeting is inexperienced in doing so
- The topic of the meeting gets off the key facts
- Lack of direction on topics and decisions
- People don’t want to contribute for a variety of reasons
- The process of tracking from the previous meeting is poor
- The meeting goes for far too long (most meetings should be over in 90 minutes maximum)
- The feedback from all of the team in the meeting is not accepted in a positive and business like way
- Lack of respect is shown by the team leader to the meeting process and the comments of others
- Issues are discussed in the meeting that should be raised individually and privately
So there are many things here that can be real problems and hurdles in a sales team meeting. For a sales team to be of the highest quality in performance and cooperation, the weekly team meeting should be carefully considered and structured.
Personally I like to see sales meetings over in one hour. If any other meetings are required on special issues then set them at other times. Most adults have an attention span of up to two hours, and in most cases the attention starts to lapse after one hour. If you want your sales team to cooperate and contribute in meetings, keep the meetings short, and to an agenda that is meaningful.
Every person coming to the meeting should have a copy of the agenda and they should bring the required information to discuss key issues. Lack of professionalism cannot be tolerated in a top performing team. Everyone must be accountable for contributing as agreed in the meeting.
In professional sales, most of the things you say can support your focus towards a sale or customer relationship. It is easy to see that the process of speech and dialogue is really important if you want to get anywhere in your career as a top salesperson.
Consider how you do your job now. It is likely to be a mixture of some or all of the following:
- Submitting a proposal
- Pitching for new business
- Showing the product or service
- After sale support and service
- Building referral opportunities
At the centre of all of these things you will find ‘dialogue’; that is the words and phrases that you use when connecting with your clients and customers. When you use the best words that match your message and product, then the sales process gets a lot easier. You will find that well-chosen words reflect the skills of the person and the pitch.
To help with this ‘verbal equation’ you can practice the words that you use in sales and in business. Sales team role playing and feedback will help you do this. You can also get a good book of words and phrases that sell; that are ‘sales and communication based’. Some words will match your market and your customers more than others. You can make the choices based on how you like to connect with your clients.
There are so many words that can be used in a client or sales situation; you probably only need about 25 of them. Over time you can find and practice some more words into your sales pitch.
This whole concept is quite logical, and yet so many salespeople do not take the steps to improve their verbal skills for client contact. If your career is based on your commission and results achieved, now would be a good time to start the practice process on words that match your market and client base sales focus. Twice a week take the time out to practice your sales approach, words, and presentational skills. The rewards are many.
As a professional salesperson today, you have the opportunity to be proactive or reactive when it comes to your marketplace and the tasks of the day. The choices that you make will have a major impact in the levels of business that you create.
Top salespeople in any industry are highly proactive and like to retain control of the things that matter in their business. Normally those things will include:
- Selective prospecting
- Client contact systems
- Contracts or orders
- Referral business
All of these things are important when it comes to growing market share and strengthening the personal profile you require as a top salesperson. If any of these five things are neglected, the results that you achieve are likely to be lessened.
So the key issue here is for you to be proactive in all the things that you do. Here are some ideas to help you:
- Use your time well and control it through an effective diary system. Don’t let other people make appointments for you. Their priorities will be different than yours.
- Understand the three or four things that are critical to the success of your business day. Ensure that those issues are merged into your diary activities every day. Get those things done before you attempt anything else. Remember the proactive approach will bring you better results.
- Place some priorities in contacting key clients on a regular basis. Those key clients or key accounts will be responsible for 80% of your business income. Strengthen the relationships of every possible opportunity.
- Understand the seasons of prospecting and sales. In your industry there will be times of the year where sales or more frequent and customers are more receptive to placing orders and signing contracts. Optimise your prospecting activities for those times of the year.
- Your existing high quality clients will be opportunities for future new business and referral leads. Ask the right questions at the right time.
- Help your clients succeed within their business and with their business requirements. In that way you will be bringing a level of value to your clients that will be hard to refuse.
- Always be networking when any spare time is available.
It is not hard to be successful in any industry when you understand that true success is built from proactive and not reactive base of control.
Every year the actions that we take in sales should be carefully planned and actioned. We have no time to lose when it comes to building the business, the market share, and the customer base.
In any period of 12 months it is likely that we have only 10 months of ‘action’ time where we can effectively reach out to the customers and prospects that we serve. The 2 months ‘downtime’ is usually the result of business issues, holidays, seasonal changes in the market, and economic conditions. There are always new clients in the market to find.
When I hear a salesperson say ‘The market is quiet and nothing is happening’, I know that I am looking at a salesperson that is looking for excuses. Top salespeople do not make excuses, knowing that there are only actions in this world of results.
There are 3 types of salespeople in the world. Try these:
- There are those that watch the business go around and other salespeople do the deals. They take no risks. They are happy to ‘help out’ but will not drive market share or new business. When things go quiet, they go quiet.
- There are those that conform and act by following the action of the masses. They know that the ‘status quo’ works (somewhat) and they stay in their comfort zone during the majority of their career. They take few risks they generate ‘ordinary’ levels of business.
- There are those that set their own market and business directions. They watch what is going on and then they start a strategy of action to a plan of focus. They drive exceptional new business and the best client relationships. They have a growth focus.
Many salespeople like to believe that they are in the third group of achievers, however the reality is they are not. Self belief is a good and a bad thing; it can hold you back from achieving and can even divert your actions. Everyone can improve their efforts and focus when it comes to business growth and sales. Importantly a plan and a system of action can improve things substantially.
Step to the front of your market understanding that their are only a few top performers there at the moment. Become ‘one of the few’ and drive massive market share. Every day take strong actions to contact more people and build relationships. Practice your skills so your business conversions improve.
There is only a small difference between ‘ordinary’ and ‘excellent’. Take those further efforts in your business and your client connections.
The process of ‘change’ is a very important as a business tool. Your ability to see the need for change and then bring about the processes to get that change implemented will be the most important tool that you develop.
So many salespeople see the need to change and cannot pull it off. They struggle with the discipline and the actions required. When they fail to adjust to the market, they miss out on the opportunities of growth in income, and market share.
It is a well-known fact that the marketplace pressures and the business community are forever changing. Economic pressures, customer interest, and marketing strategies will change throughout the year. For this very reason, a strategy of change should be integrated into every business model for a team; it should also occur at an individual level.
Here are some tips to help you identify the right factors to change in your sales career, and then implement the process.
- Know your business strengths and grow them. Every salesperson will have particular strengths within their industry. It may be in prospecting, communicating, negotiating, or in closing. The strengths that you do have, should be improved through practice.
- Know your weaknesses and fix them. It is interesting to note that our weaknesses are the greatest hurdles that hold us back in business. You have two alternatives to deal with the issue. You can either employ an assistant to fill the gap with those weak skills, or you can deliberately practice and improve the weaknesses so that they diminish and dissolve. The latter is the preferable option that will take you further into your industry with success.
- Change takes time. The process of change needs to be implemented and the only way you can do that is to be diligent and persistent. When you understand what needs to be done, a new habit will be required. Given that we have developed our habits over many years, it can take several weeks if not months to develop the necessary change we want. Get the process started and stick with it.
- Track and measure your progress each and every day. When you can see that you are achieving results, the momentum get stronger and the results start to occur. Given that the sales profession is devoted to growth and results, you have the key to the process.
It is far too easy to stop doing something. The comfort zone will hold us back at each opportunity. Remember the problem of creating new habits and take up the challenge to build a better market place for yourself, and a strong personal sales career.
In professional selling I see so many salespeople that are struggling or at best are just in the ‘average’ zone. The problem evolves from one single fact. They are ‘reactive’ and not ‘proactive’. I call it being on the ‘back foot’.
To get anywhere in sales and customer contact you really do need to have a process of being on the ‘front foot’. In other words you are taking the right action and you do so in a controlled way. You are moving ahead under control.
So what issues can this have an impact on? Try some of these:
- Client contact programs
- Key account management
- Sales or order follow up
- Referral business or leads
- Database contact
Any of these things offer the opportunity for you to be proactive and in a position of taking action. That’s how you win new business and grow your market share.
All of this being said the ‘front foot’ process involves a sales person planning what they want to do and action. It is a deliberate process of moving ahead.
Let’s take prospecting as an example. Here are some stages to taking the right action:
- Researching the new people to call and contact
- Establishing the best time to make your prospecting calls
- Getting out into your market to door knock the local businesses that may need your services
- Tracking the responses from your prospecting processes in a database
- Making return calls to people on a regular basis
- Creating meaningful content to provide to your clients and prospects
It is easy to see why some people are more successful than others. It’s a choice. Put your front foot forward and take the first step.