When you start work as a professional salesperson you will soon know that your income is driven from your success rate. Over time the success rate must be established and driven. There is no room for salespeople that cannot sell. It can also be said that salespeople that are constantly struggling are of little use to a business.
In the average business today, the sales team is at the front line of building market share and customer satisfaction. Without those two things working well, the business fails to survive and those employed in the business will lose their jobs.
So everything hinges on the salesperson and the team in getting their act together and bringing the business some solid results. There is a simple process to producing the new business and the market share that you need. Every part of the simple process has to be optimised and practiced. When you understand the elements of this you can soon see the things that are critical to building your business.
Selling anything is a simple process of communication. That is communication in stages. Here are those stages:
- Researching the right people to talk to. When you get the research correct, every other stage of the process is quite easy.
- Prospecting in a consistent way so that you can find more customers and clients that need your services. Prospecting has to occur every day.
- Qualifying those clients and customers so you know the value that they can bring you and just how you could service them.
- Creating meetings should be a daily event. From your prospecting model you should be generating one or two new meetings per week.
- Categorising the customers into groups such as Key Accounts, Ordinary Accounts, and Basic Accounts. Each level will receive differing levels of attention and service. Key accounts are of the highest value to you over the long term.
- Presenting your services is something quite special. Your presentational style and sales pitch should be of high quality and relevant to the customers that you approach.
- Handling objections is a special process. There will always be some objections and you have to be ready for the common ones.
- Closing the order should not be hard if you have done everything else correctly. Be prepared to close at the right time and in the right way.
- Servicing the customer through the order and to final supply is really important. You want the client to stay with you for the long haul.
- Referral business has to be asked for. It is always available if you have done a good job on the sale and the supply.
Every salesperson should consider just how effective they are in each of these stages. Practice is required to improve the overall result. Professional selling is today one of the most exciting professions to pursue.
Some sales teams are built with focus to bring in the results. Others are seen as just a group of people that have been given a name tag and a department within the overall business. The performance between these two teams is radically different.
The sales team is the life blood of the business (or should be). When they are producing the results you get all of the following:
- More clients
- Referral business
- Greater volumes of sales
- Customer satisfaction
- Dominant market share
I weak link in a sales team can slow or destroy the foundations of growth and client stability. So what are the characteristics of a top sales team today? Try some of these:
- They will have a clear understanding of the goals for the business and where they sit in the overall plan.
- They will understand how they can improve the business from their position in the market.
- They will have and accept key performance indicators both as a team and also as individuals to which they agree to strive and achieve.
- Objectivity will be the case in any team assessment as the year progresses. Members of the team will accept guidance and objectivity.
- The team should be cohesive and committed to each other in building the results for the overall business.
- Whilst the team will have a leader, each person will understand that they are leaders themselves in what they need to do with their clients and territory.
- There will be a high degree of trust between members of the team, and where required the team will support each other in any client or sales requirements.
- A good sales team is flexible so that the overall goals are encouraged through the pressures of any single transaction or client connection.
- The members of the team will understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide backup to fill the shortcomings of each other.
- The team will have a strategic plan of action that they stick to in business and as part of ongoing team performance.
- Knowledge and service will be high on the agenda when working with and serving clients and prospects.
- Every team member will understand the priorities of growth and stability as it applies to the clients that they have.
To manage a sales team you need a leader of skill and drive. A sales team is a unique business unit that is different than all others and that requires direction, and seeks respectful leadership promoting the core values of business.
Many people think that sales and a career in sales is a ‘cushy’ job where you do not have to work hard. Many administrative or office based ‘backroom people’ will frequently question what the sales team or key account team are actually doing for their salary.
The fact of the matter is that the sales team and individual salespeople work differently. They are creators of opportunity; they look for the next sale and they push towards it. That being said, there are great salespeople, and there are ordinary salespeople. In every industry you see the ‘greats’ and you see the ‘not so greats’.
A salesperson without action, drive and vision is like a car without wheels. It has an engine, makes a lot of noise, but travels nowhere.
If you have chosen sales as your career, you are in a good spot, but you are also in a hard place that will require real work and effort. Great sales specialists are self-motivators and drivers of their business. They know that the business will come in if they get out the door and into their market.
Here are some ideas to help you move into your industry and sales career with greater success.
- Define your focus so you know exactly who your market is and where they are. Every prospecting effort and client connection should be to a plan and strategy of approach. Your vision should be specific to what you sell and how you do it. Practice will help you improve as you move ahead. It should be remembered that this is very personal and in that respect you and the motivator to get the job done.
- Connect with clients each and every day. When you open the door with your clients, ensure that they know you well and that you connect with them on a frequent basis. Client contact should be a process in your diary. It has to happen every day.
- Grow your database of prospects on a daily basis. Devote about 2 or 3 hours each day to regular prospecting; that is talking to new people that are not clients at the moment. It is a fact that many clients will disappear over time, given that their situation will change. You must fill the pipeline of opportunity with new people.
- Practice your craft and your dialogue. Connecting with clients and prospects will involve a number of situations such as presentations, sales pitches, product updates, negotiations, placing orders, and service requirements. All situations require practice and very good dialogue. If you practice what you say and do with the most important parts of client connection, you can lift your conversions of sales.
- Believe in yourself and sell yourself at every logical opportunity. You are the best person to do this. Self-promotion is all part of being a salesperson. You promote with relevance, style, and professionalism.
- Look for new ideas and people to connect with. Read papers, surf the internet, and ask for referrals. There is always a new client just around the corner if you know how to find them.
If you have chosen ‘sales’ as a career you are at the start of something exciting. Take charge of your day and your actions. Start driving yourself into your market. Get to know lots of the right people. Be a professional.
Human beings are creatures of habit. When we are left to our own devices we shape the day into a series of habits that suit us. Everything that we are today is the result of our application of our habits; everything else that happens to us is just luck. Given that luck is not all that frequent, the only way you can really progress is through changing your habits.
This process of habit change is easy to say and not easy to do. That is because we have choices as individuals, and if we do not discipline ourselves we tend to go down the easiest road.
Developing the habit of taking consistent and focused action towards you goals is the way to implement success in anything. So developing a habit is like training; you have to do it each day. The more you practice the better you become.
It is best to change your habits before the real pressure is on, because habits under pressure are not as effective as controlled and focused habits.
To make good habits, you must simplify the things that you do. As you simplify you can be far more effective. The way to progress here is to think of action as a muscle that you must strengthen each day. So start your action exercises.
In business today, the humble telephone remains the most effective way to grow your business. The telephone allows you to make cold calls and find more clients to connect to; you can do all of this from the comfort of your desk. That being said, many salespeople will avoid the cold calling process at any and every opportunity.
So why do so many people have a problem with calls to new prospective clients? Here are some reasons that are common in most industries today.
- Lack of organisation
- No idea of how to make the process work
- Failure to develop a habit of making calls every day
- Call reluctance
- Not knowing of what to say
So the list will go on and on. The opportunity that exists here is massive; a good salesperson that can establish an effective call contact process in their market can create massive new business opportunity. That can then mean better salary or commission depending on how you get paid for results.
So what is the secret to progress here? The secret to making prospecting and cold calling work for you is to get started today and keep it going. Do not stop prospecting for any reason; every day you should be prospecting for new clients for at least 2 hours. This single fact will keep the business coming in and your pipeline growing.
If your industry is tough or slow, go back to the basics and get out amongst your clients and potential targets. Make prospecting the number one thing that you do every day. Quite soon you will see things change around for the positive and when that happens do not stop what you are doing, but lift your efforts even higher. Top salespeople know that everything comes down to them and what they do every day.
The trends in sales enquiry and sales conversion will always help you with developing and implementing a good business strategy. Those salespeople that really know their way around numbers and ratios will usually rise to the top of their business faster than others.The fact of the matter is that numbers tell us things that are very useful; you can then adjust any prospecting and marketing activities that are not converting the business, and improve on those that are getting good results.
Here are some of the numbers that we track when it comes to business growth and levels of activity:
- Find out where the enquiry is coming from. If you do a lot of marketing in various channels of the media, work out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to marketing. They call the process ‘test and measure’. Do more of the things that attract the best levels of enquiry.
- If you work with or are in charge of a sales team, watch the sales and business conversions of all of your salespeople and then compare them. Some of those salespeople will be better than others when it comes to building momentum and sales. In many respects the results can be driven by the salespersons sales character and personal systems. If something works well for one salesperson, replicate it and spread it across the team.
- Do you keep specific numbers relating to your prospecting activities? The numbers to know and check on a weekly basis should be calls in and out, meetings held, sales made, and time involved in the sales cycle. Some businesses have very long sales cycle; all the more reason to have a ‘sales pipeline’ process.
- When you create a client relationship, the next step in the business cycle is to strengthen the sales relationship so you can sell them more product or services over time. Some of those clients will be of a Key Account nature; on that basis they will require the attention of your best people and client services.
- Lastly something should be said about ‘referral business’ and the obtaining of that business from existing clients. Do not overlook the opportunity here. Your existing clients know other people and on that basis some new relationships can be opened up.
When it comes to building a business or market share, systems work every time. This then says that you should develop a system of approach at a personal level and then make it a habit in your daily activities. When you make it a habit, you can improve it and that’s how results come in. Many salespeople struggle with the fact that ‘systems’ are required to help them achieve better success in their industry. If anything, that then makes it much easier for others that can develop a good approach to business with well-developed systems.