When it comes to selling and professional customer service, the top salespeople spend more time in going the ‘extra mile’ when it comes to the solution for the customer. Most salespeople will say that they do a good job, but the reality can only be assessed from a client perspective.
Only the client will know that you have done more than what was required and that you have really helped them. When you get this process right, you will get more enquiries and build a better database of leads and clients.
Our clients like to know that they are being helped by top salespeople and not being sold by an average salesperson.
Intelligent business people will choose the product or service providing all the elements of information, performance, services, and supply are available.
Here is a strategy to help you with your key accounts and sales:
- Seek to understand the need and the requirement before you sell the product or service.
- Provide information and knowledge. If you do this correctly, you will not have to sell and pitch much at all to close the deal.
- Be aware of the limitations on product and service availability. Do not overstate the supply of something when you really do not know the complete facts. When in doubt get the right information and check it out before you pass it on to the client.
- When the deal is being negotiated and documented, be aware of the order status and supply times. Remove any doubt from the clients mind.
- When the deal is done, follow through personally and ask if all facts and outcomes were as the client expected.
- Stay in contact for the long haul. Contact all your clients every 90 days or more so they feel connected to your business and services.
It’s not hard to be a top salesperson. It is really common sense coupled with great attention to detail.
Successful sales campaigns require continual momentum to a plan or a target. That is why many sales campaigns fail; the people behind the process do not have the plan to keep them on track. They may also lack the discipline to focus on the daily activities required.
Time is your resource of great importance in moving ahead in sales and in business today. Using your time productively to a plan will help you get ahead.
The rules to set up a sales campaign involve some key decisions including these below:
- Identify those ‘rainmakers’ in the sales team that are proven performers. They should be given optimal latitude in driving more business and sales from the client base.
- Determine the priorities that apply to the selection of ‘Key Accounts’ in your market and industry. Populate those segments from existing clients and prospects in your territory.
- Track the clients that are serviced by your competitors. They will require special attention to get leverage and encourage them to move.
- Some clients will be prioritised for repeat business as well as volume sales. Discounts can be applied depending on volume or sales stability.
- Set the rules for Major Accounts as opposed to Ordinary Accounts. Interact with both segments based on the applied rules.
- Create rules that take a new account into the pipeline of conversion and elevated sales over time.
- What are the delay factors that will apply to orders and supply? Always prepare for the known factors before anything else.
Top sales people are highly motivated at a personal level. The only way to achieve that is through focus and directed effort. It takes time to get there, however the rewards are many.
In business and in life many people struggle with the targets and goals that they must achieve. All too often the path to progress gets clouded and confused. When it comes to sales, the same process and observation applies.
When you want to go on a holiday, what do you do? You set your targets, you plan, and then you figure out the steps that are required to get you there. Every week or month you do more things to push the holiday closer to you. In 12 months or so you will have achieved the holiday of a lifetime.
Most salespeople stay in the average zone of achievement. They will have some good months and some not so good months. Only the very best people rise to the top of their market, and they do so because they know what has to be done and they create a system to do it each and every day. They work from a base of achievement.
Some of the biggest problems you hear some ordinary salespeople refer to are any or all of the following:
- Not enough time
- Incorrect resources
- No support from management
- Need to go home early
- It’s 5:00pm and the clients are not in their office
- The market has changed
- It’s time for a holiday
- The client is away for a few weeks
- Nothing happens at Christmas time
- I left a message and they did not get back to me
So these are all ‘excuses’, and top salespeople know that the results that they need come from one source; that is themselves. They systemise themselves and they take daily action to get the result that they need. If they have any shortcomings in skills, they practice until they remove the problem.
If you work in a sales related job, and your salary depends on your success in client connection and orders, you would be best advised to look at your systems and your actions that you do every day. Would you say that most days are effective and positive as to results?
If the answer is not clear, don’t worry; you are not alone. Do however take a step back and closely review exactly what you do each day that is high priority business. If 40% of your day is not business generating then you need to modify you actions and focus.
It takes about 3 weeks of deliberate effort to change your focus and develop new habits, but soon you will be on the road to new and better outcomes.
In business today there are many types of customers and yet we forget to handle each of them separately and specially. It is important to have a customer communication and contact system specifically designed for the different types of customers.
This then says that every customer type should have a dedicated part within your customer contact program. The strategies between customers types will differ based on some of the following criteria:
- You will have some loyal clients that have been working with you and purchasing your products or services for many years. They will bring stability to your business with consistent purchases and orders. Some of those loyal clients will be key accounts by definition, and also by volume of sales and orders.
- Your service and response should be different between ordinary customers and key accounts. Differentiate the ways in which you will work with key clients. Senior sales staff should be dedicated to each particular key account to ensure relevance and responsiveness when it comes to the supply of goods and services.
- From time to time you will get referral business and new clients from a number of sources. Referral business is built around the relationships, leads, and opportunities that you have with other people. When you have been given a referral, it is necessary to specifically and productively work through the referral opportunity. Only your best salespeople should take on the referral contact and potential conversion. It may also be necessary to give feedback to the person that made the initial introduction as the referral relationship changes and grows.
- Some of your existing customers will benefit from an improved version of your product or service. Working closely with your clients throughout the year will help you identify these special customers. Over time they can be converted to key accounts.
- When any new versions of your product or service are being considered for release, an industry briefing or prelaunch presentation can be organized for your key customers.
- Some of your current customers will be very happy with the existing levels of product supply and service. They will however never reach the purchasing or order levels of a key account. They still require special attention to ensure stability of customer relationship and ongoing sales.
- The profit margins that may exist on a typical customer sale will differ when it comes to a key account. Purchase volume and purchase amount has a lot to do with setting the lower margins for the key customers. To simplify the matter, set 3 simple levels of key account profit margins based on levels of sale and volumes of purchase. It is usually sufficient to have three levels of pricing relating to key account interaction. As part of this process it is important to understand the orders placed and purchases made by each key account throughout the year.
- Some of your customers will be seasonal in their purchasing activities. They may only require your product or service once a year. That being said, when they place an order and purchase it is likely to be in large volumes for a short period of time. They can therefore place special pressures on the staffing and supply chain, and on that basis will require unique understanding and communication systems.
Protect the relationships with each and every client within your business. Competitors will be chasing your clients and threatening your market share most of the time. It is quite easy for a client to move their product or service requirements across to another supplier. Business today is quite dynamic and demanding. Ensure that your product and or service are of the highest quality at all times. Any weak links need to be removed or rectified.
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Negotiation is one of the great skills that a good salesperson should develop and practice. We are not all great at negotiation when challenged; it takes a mindset and a skill base that can help us work with the great number of variables that can apply in selling today.
Here are some tips for improving your negotiation skills today:
- Know your product or service comprehensively. That will help you with your dialogue and the variables that may come into the negotiation.
- The possible characters and position of the parties to the negotiation will vary greatly and you have to master all of them. A good negotiation is the result of careful planning and communication.
- Always see the negotiation as a series of small steps to the end result. Rarely will the outcome be achieved in one decision.
- If the parties decline to agree, take the time to know their ideas and restrictions. Something will be holding them back and will require understanding.
- Leave emotions out of the negotiation; they do not help. If the other party gets emotional, it will be a strategy and they are seeking to manipulate the circumstances for themselves. Do not let the other party’s emotion undermine the base plan or the momentum.
- Know where you must start the negotiation and where it should head. In saying that, you will also need to know the variables that can arise in the typical negotiation and have a strategy to work through them.
- When you find that there are differences between the parties, define them and then work through them individually. Focus on the interests and outcomes of the parties concerned.
- Be respectful throughout and after the negotiation. Follow through to the very end so that the parties do not feel that they have been taken advantage of.
- Creative thinking will help any negotiation move ahead. Sometimes the parties need to know more of the situation or maybe even want time to fully think through the facts.
- If either party produces obstacles to the transaction or the deal, ask them about the ideal solution and get them to talk about it in great detail. This process is called a ‘Freudian slip’ and will usually help you move the other party forward with facts and solutions.
Good negotiators are experts at their craft and their product or service. They practice and plan how they will communicate and build on any product or service offering. Over time they build an exceptional set of sales and negotiation skills. You can do the same.
A sales attitude is required to create better market share and more business. When you look at the average sales team, there is a significant difference between all members of the team and on that basis they will need to be individually managed and encouraged.
There are many different performance models available for sales team analysis. Essentially there is one of the clear fact that is common to all. Some salespeople are good on building relationships with customers and people generally; other salespeople will be good at closing the deal then moving on. For this reason it pays to have a variety of a good salespeople of both types in your team.
It is a notable fact that these two types of sales characters are distinctly different and approach prospecting and selling from different angles. Your sales manager or team leader is likely to be one of these characters; they will not normally relate to the other sales character well at all. That will then alienate and frustrate the other part of your sales team.
This is where the team leader needs to carefully manage the two different sales styles regardless of their personal selling style or bias.
Here are some other tips that can apply to the establishment of a solid sales attitude within the business team:
- Prospecting for new business should be the number one event in every sales person’s diary each business day. There is simply no excuse for not prospecting. A good sales team is built on business generation and not order taking.
- Customer contact and customer service follows as a close second to the prospecting process. In this economic environment, customers need to be encouraged and nurtured through the sales cycle.
- There is a real difference between ordinary customers and key accounts. Importantly, your business and your sales team needs to differentiate between the two and service them differently.
- Every salesperson should be responsible for filling and maintaining their sales pipeline. Over time the pipeline should be growing in your prospects, customers, and quality of sales.
- You will need a good customer relationship management (CRM) software program to help with your sales pipeline. In only this way can you track the relationships with suspects, prospects, and clients. The selection of software for your business will normally be based on the product or service type, and the contact methods that you use. Also give some due regard to the ongoing customer interaction and the other departments in your business that will be contacting the same customer over time. Every stage of the customer contact cycle needs to be entered into the CRM system.
As a final note, your best salesperson should never be promoted to the level of sales manager. There is a lot of difference between managing salespeople and achieving results.
The best salespeople do not normally make good sales managers as they simply cannot explain their methods to the sales team and encourage the right type of action to be taken.
Good sales management is a very specific process requiring a very skilled professional that understands your business.