In business and in sales today, things change on a regular basis and you need to see that change. For this reason you need a personal business plan and a process to keep you on track. High performing salespeople develop a plan that keeps moving them forward.
Here are some tips to help you develop your business model and plan.
- Once every quarter, it pays to review your market for changes and pressures. Look at the opportunities of change that can provide you with more clients or sales. Compare each quarter to that of the previous quarter. Look for the trends over time. Pay particular attention to the seasonal sales activity and patterns in your town or city. Generally most salespeople have a window of 10 months each year as a core selling period. That is the time frame where you really need to work hard and with focus. That is where your plan will be most important.
- Your product or service will require knowledge, skills, and market updates. That should be an ongoing process of tracking and improvement. The clients that we serve like to see confidence and relevance when we do our sales pitch or presentation.
- Considering the current market and your services, ask yourself the following question. Why do people need you? The best answer to this question will be your unique selling point. The answer that you give needs to be quite specific and all of your marketing efforts should be centered on those facts.
- Determine where you are right now when it comes to market share, clients, sales, and income. All of these things should be part of your business plan and improvement model. Targets should be set when it comes to each of these categories. The target should be realistic and yet also optimistic. Set the rules so that you know exactly where you are headed with your sales targets this year.
- The targets that you set should be established on a timeline given your core 10 months of market activity. If you are starting your selling career in a new area or business, you will need to stagger the growth of sales over the 10 month period. The first three months of the period are likely to be devoted to the establishment of market share.
- From all of the above items, you should be setting your action plan in motion. That action plan will require resources to support the systems that you create. A database will be part of that process. The client connections that you make should be tracked in the database so that ongoing customer relationships can be built. In many respects, the success of a salesperson is largely based on trust.
- On a final note, always track your progress on a weekly basis. In this way you will quickly know when things are improving or slowing down. Your plans and actions can then be easily adjusted. Pay particular attention to your prospecting processes, conversions to meetings, meetings to sales, and customer service. Providing everything moves well, you should have the opportunity for ongoing referral business and repeat client activity.
The results that you get as a professional salesperson are largely driven by your mindset and your actions. Protect and support both of these processes with the right attitude and consistency. Over time you can build your market share and income.
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.
The sales profession is precisely that; it is a profession. When you understand that fact, you can begin to regard the skills of the trade as very special and something that you should improve on. You become a specialist in the ‘game’.
It’s a bit like playing golf. If you want to be the best, you must practice all parts of the game from tee off, moving around the course, handling the water traps and bunkers, and taking it all right down to putting. Every part of the game is really important. You are the player, and you know the game.
I have put together some important factors of the sales profession that are fundamental elements of sales performance. The whole package works well together. See how you rank.
- Believe in yourself at all times. Sometimes things get a bit overwhelming, and you will then have to make adjustments, but through all of this you are a top person and you take that self-belief into your career. Integrity and professionalism are all part of what we do, so self-belief integrates well with that.
- Deal with your procrastination because there will be plenty of it. It is the nature of sales as a career that you must do things that are difficult and that other people really do not want to do. Take on the challenge and move into the difficult tasks with commitment.
- Do not overindulge in life’s little pressures. Many a salesperson has ‘got off the rails’ with personal overindulgence. Too much of a good thing can take over your life and focus. Do not let any ‘vices’ take over your personal time. They will soon reflect in your business day and that will be the start of a downward spiral.
- Develop willpower to do just about anything. That being said, you should develop the willpower to do the ‘right’ things. It’s a bit like ‘throwing a switch’; you turn on the commitment to do the job no matter how hard it is or how long it takes.
- Keep fit mentally and personally. Every day give yourself time to get out into the world and exercise. Top performance in sales requires a fast mind and a fit body. These two factors will take you through the tough times with ease.
- Create a day system and a time management system for the things that need to be done every day. When you have a system of control and focus, you can get things done.
- Take some small rewards as you move through the day and week. All the hard work should give you the ability to have time for yourself.
- Do the hard stuff first every day. This is perhaps the most important item on this list. Always do the difficult things and get them out of the way. Make it a part of your diary to spend the first part of the day on the difficult stuff that others hate to do.
- Never lose control and show anger. Anger will get you nowhere. It will let others see weaknesses in your work pattern. If you want to be a top salesperson, you cannot show anger.
- Control your dialogue and improve it every day with practice. Some parts of your dialogue are critical to personal sales and performance. Those parts of your dialogue should be practiced to help you move to the top of your industry.
As logical as these 10 simple rules appear, they do require personal focus to set in place and implement. It’s up to you; everything that is good and rewarding is like that. Isn’t it good to be in control?
There are plenty of challenges when it comes to sales and sales teams today, but one problem is far bigger than everything else and it sets the scene for overall personal results and income. If you understand the problem you can do something about it.
In simple terms the problem goes something like this:
‘Your daily habits determine your outcomes, and most salespeople cannot or do not modify their habits to lift personal performance’.
It is a simple issue, but it has huge impact across sales teams and also individually. Your habits in business can hold you back or change the future.
So what is the Problem?
We have had many years to develop our habits and focus. When it comes to modifying those habits for our business and personal income, the challenge is beyond most salespeople. The personal discipline of most salespeople will shift on a daily basis, and all good intentions become lost in a ‘sea of inaction’.
If you work for yourself or work on commission, there are all sorts of tools that can help you with bringing about the changes that you require. You hear of them in many different ways. Depending on your industry some will be more important than others.
The list of processes and tools that are available to lift personal performance are typically:
- Scripts and Dialogues
- Cold Calling
- Sales territory
- Contact plans
All of these things can strengthen your market and your personal brand. The real fact of the matter is that they are all personal issues. The results that you get back will only come from the results that you put in.
When a salesperson is well paid they become complacent; the motivation to lift performance is just not there. However, when a salesperson is rewarded by effort and commission, they can see what they have to do, and they know that they are the key to getting habits and challenges sorted and strengthened. It is the small percentage of sales people that then rise to the occasion and get active on the tasks and systems to build their business.
You have a choice here. You can accept your habits and keep doing the same old things that have got you to where you are today; or you can challenge yourself to lift your focus and skills with new effort and focus. The rewards are many for those salespeople that can make the change and lift their performance.
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.