High Grade Customer Growth for Sales Teams

In any profession you need clients.  It takes time to develop them, serve them, and then over time they will leave.  It is a simple fact of business that your clients will eventually develop a new focus or requirement.  They will move on.  It really does not matter how strong the relationship is today; they will one day have a change of circumstances and they will move on.

This then shows us that we should have a solid plan and system to help us find new clients.  Every day the plan has to occur.  You have to improve your client base and database.  We call it the sales pipeline.

Many salespeople struggle with all of the things that they have to do every day.  The list of tasks can be overwhelming.  A typical day for a sales person will include:

  • Talking to current customers
  • Finding new customers
  • Following up on orders
  • Paperwork
  • Customer service
  • Placing new orders
  • Meetings
  • Talking with management
  • Reviewing product information
  • Entering customer detail into the database, etc

It’s a long list; you can probably add some things to the list yourself.

Without a day system, without some form of control you will struggle.  When a salesperson is struggling, the business and client base suffers.

Out of all of these things in the list above, the most important is ‘finding new customers’.  Everything else ranks below that key issue.

So how can you shift the bias of the day so you get to create some more clients?  The simple answer is that you shift your priorities and make prospecting number one in your diary every day.

It is a well-known fact that most salespeople do not like or easily accept the discipline of the job.  They would rather be ‘socialising’ with current clients and talking to the people that they know.  Whilst this is a part of doing business, it still ranks behind the issue of finding new clients.

When you understand this problem, it is easy to do something about it.  You simply shift your mindset to one of client growth and new business.  Every day you make new calls to businesses and people that you have not spoken to before.  It takes about 3 weeks to see some momentum, but eventually you break through the problem and new clients start to evolve.

If your income depends on your sales and your customers, it is a good choice to shift your mindset to this new way of doing things.  Develop the new habit of connecting with the right people.  Sales success can be yours.

Battle Hardened Market Share in Tough Markets

In this business environment some companies and industries will be more successful than others, but it is the sales team and customer service team that are now more important than ever before.  Consistency in client contact will help consolidate market share and protect your income.

If your business is struggling in any way, take a look at your sales team first to see just what they are doing or not doing.  Too many salespeople listen to their peers when it comes to results and activities.  If you have any ordinary performers in your sales team it can spread like a ‘cancer’ in and across the entire team.  Complacency breeds complacency; top performers are required in today’s sales environment.

When you are not getting your share of the market and the sales, here are the things that you should look at first:

  1. Split your sales team into high achievers and average performers.  Determine who is producing the sales and the orders and find out why that is the case.  The balance of the team will be doing a mixture of ‘nothing much’.  When you know the differences in your team you can handle the issues of skills improvement, redundancy, repositioning, and refocus.
  2. When your industry is slow or under pressure, it is the systemised action of your top people that will get you through.  It is likely that your top people will be less than 10% of the workforce.  Replicate the systems that work into the balance of the team.  Those that can’t handle the change should be reallocated or made redundant.  Experimental salespeople do not work.
  3. Split your customers into 3 groups.  Firstly your top clients should be determined and allocated into a VIP section of your business.  They should get better treatment and service than all other clients.  The second group of customers are those that have the potential to move to a Key Account status.  You job is to find out how to do that and why it should occur with each customer in this group.  The third group are those customers that randomly purchase goods or services and that are unlikely to move up the client pipeline status to a Key Account.  If you are going to remove the poor performers from your sales team, then you can drop the third group of customers to free up some time for the remaining salespeople.
  4. Get your prospecting model sorted and strengthened with your top salespeople.  Use the best systems and ideas that they have to consolidate the prospecting system for your business and local area.

This is all about strategy.  Focus on your people and the business will generally come in, albeit in a modified form.  Business is all about people so go back the people level and sort it through.  Opportunities will soon come back to you and the sales team.

Setting Sales Targets and Customer KPI’s

So many salespeople do not closely track their progress in sales, market share and client interaction.  This is one of the major reasons that they fail to reach the goals that they require.As to what targets you should track really depends on your industry; however some of them are most likely going to be:

  • Gross annual sales
  • Current clients in your database
  • Numbers of prospects
  • $ Sales per client
  • $ Sales per unit sold
  • Marketing costs
  • Time from open to closing of sale
  • Referral business
  • Competitive position and market share (compared to your competitors)
  • Networking frequency with all of your clients

You can add to the list as required, however keep the process simple.  Too many numbers will slow down the real process that you want and that is growth.

All of these numbers must start from a real base or fact; that will be where you are now or where you have been in the last financial year.  These are numeric facts that are proven and real.  Depending on your industry, you will have facts to analyse and determine what growth will be possible for the future.

Not all industries will have the same amount of growth potential because other factors will come into play such as the economy, the market, client sentiment, and competitive position.  The growth factors that you set should be a stretch on personal performance but nevertheless realistic.

A salesperson and sales team that knows where they are heading is a ‘team of choice’ when it comes to performance in companies and corporations today.  Importantly, you and your team should make the right growth choices and then start taking the right actions.

The Biggest Problem

I see so many teams do all the planning and then fail to follow through with the required action; or if they take the required action, old habits soon set in and the new systems are forgotten.

The best way to drive new business and more sales is to set in place a new system of client contact and then keep it moving forward.  In this way you can set new habits and achieve better outcomes than the previous sales and prospecting models used.

Sales Teams – Look for Bigger Clients to Build Better Market Share

When you work as a salesperson one of the best ways to rise to the top of your industry or to get a hold on your market is to target the bigger clients.  Here are a few facts for you:

  • The larger clients buy more products and services
  • These bigger clients buy more frequently and seasonally
  • The large customers give you credibility as a top salesperson in your market
  • You can value add your services and spread your offering more easily in a top clients account
  • These bigger clients want productive and problem solving solutions.
  • These clients want to streamline their activities so they can improve the bottom line.

It is notable that many top prospective clients are already serviced by your competitors, so they are easy to find.  That being said, it may take some time to convert these prospects to clients so a systemised contact process is required.  Set up a good database in your business to help the sales team coordinate their efforts in contacting the right prospective customers.

In today’s business environment where productivity and the bottom line means just so much, it is a very wise strategy to look at your client base and refine it to higher quality clients in this way.  Your smaller clients may stay with you but they should not get the same focus as a Key Account or big client.

These large prospective clients can be defined in a number of ways, depending on your business type and location.  Here are some ideas to help with that:

  1. The locational factors will drive better business for you.  To some degree, the convenience of the client to your business location will allow better supply and demand of product and services.  For this reason you should define your territory for both primary and secondary business.
  2. A top client or top prospective client can also be defined by the type of product or service that they buy from you.  That may be by volume or by sales total.
  3. A good client is one that can take you into other locations as part of their business model, or take alternative products, and add on services from you.

Look around the current market and see who your competitors are servicing.  Those relationships are ready to be tested.  You can open the door through any of the following:

  • Alternative supply solutions
  • Better customer service
  • Discounted prices and bulk discounts
  • Value add products and services

Building your business with better quality clients is a wise strategy for an established business that is looking for market dominance.

Sales Teams – How to build your market share

So many salespeople struggle with growing market share. The single reason for this is that they have little or no personal system to build their business. Every day is a new day, and nothing consistently happens to build on the success of yesterday.

Perhaps I have upset some salespeople in saying that, however it is a proven fact that the performance of most sales teams is low for this very reason.

In any business and market there are also some other excuses that hold teams back. Some of them are here:

  • No support from the management team
  • No leadership to correct faults or lacking processes
  • No standards that can focus the prospecting and customer service processes.
  • Little action to a system that works in their market
  • Forgetting the clients and keeping in contact with them over time

So, all of this is a personal process; that’s the reality of it all. Any salesperson can improve their ‘lot’ by taking action. Given that most do not do the right things every day, there is huge potential out there for those that do.

If a salesperson takes on the personal challenges of their industry and takes action every day to a good plan, there is a very good chance that they will rise to the top of their market quickly and effectively.

Here are some tips for getting control of your market and market share.

  1. Define your territory geographically and physically so you know where you will find the business.
  2. See how many potential clients could be in your areas that are serviced by your competitors. Can you open the door with these clients?
  3. Be prepared to talk to many people to find the one opportunity. As long as your market is large enough that will not be a problem. The issue is in getting the right resources and research around you.
  4. Use a database that is comprehensive and easy to access. Over time you can build your database by 4 or 5 new people a day. Keep in regular contact so you can open up the relationship when the prospect requires help.

Are you the best service provider in your local area? Can you say that your product or service is as good if not better than the competition? If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to these questions yet, you have some work to do. Devise your business system and work to it every day.

Sales Opportunity – Focus on Poorly Serviced Clients

When you work in sales of any type you will see prime examples of clients that are not serviced well.  It could be that they do not purchase often enough, or not in sufficient volume to rank as a priority.  That being said, they are likely to be an opportunity in waiting.

Many of those poorly serviced clients not purchasing much today can be key clients of the future.  Everything changes in business and you should not accept the status quo when it comes to clients and their business situations.  Keep in touch so you know when their business or personal situation requires your product or service.

It is interesting to note that many salespeople do not maintain regular and consistent contact with their entire database.  In most situations they will contact less than 25 clients on a regular basis.  All other clients will be relegated to the ‘call me when you need me’ process.

It has been proven that a regular 90 day contact system with all clients in your database will build greater business opportunity than just waiting for the ‘client to call’ when they want something.  After the third contact of 90 days, the client or prospect starts to see that you are really interested in them and their needs.  It is likely that they will get closer to your business and could potentially over time convert to a key customer.

So often I have seen sales and customer service situations where many clients and prospects move to another supplier simply because they felt overlooked or neglected.  That’s something to be avoided.

Here is a contact model to help your business growth:

  1. Understand who your key clients are by definition and location.  Yes they will need special attention; however that attention should be in balance with all other clients.
  2. Create a contact model for Key clients and then all others.  Key clients should be contacted at least every 30 days.  Other clients should be contacted inside 90 days regardless of their status.
  3. Use a multi faceted contact process to give your clients information about your product or service and any changes of product that they may be interested in.  The contact tools that you can use should include email newsletter, direct calls, and drop in meetings, product updates, and industry briefings.  In balance they create a good source of market and product information.
  4. Look at the competitors in your industry and identify their client base.  It is likely that you can open the contact process with some of their clients.
  5. Devote the first part of your day to contacting at least 10 new people that you have not made contact with previously.  When this is done in balance with your existing database you have a pipeline of growth.

Those clients that are underserviced will be great allies, if and when you convert them to greater levels of business.  It may take months or years to move them closer to your business, however the journey is worth it with some clients.