In sales today, many things will happen to distract your focus. Clients, market pressures, orders, seasonal changes in the market will all have an impact.
The only way to establish some progress is to track your sales results or ‘scores’. You don’t have to track a lot of things; only the ones that have meaning to your product and services. Small incremental increases in actions will compound your progress in sales.
So what can you track? If you have been working in a market or industry for some time you will already have facts and figures you can draw on. If you are new to a zone then you will need to develop assumptions based on real market trends; that will take research and investigation. Answer these questions in doing so:
- Where are the clients coming from?
- What are they looking for in obtaining service and supply of goods?
- How can you tap into the client segments in a regular way?
- What prospecting methods work better than others?
- How many prospecting calls are you making?
- What is the average unit of sale over the last 12 months?
- What is the average unit of commission or profit over the last 12 months?
- What is the volume of sales per person in your industry versus your business?
- How long does it take to connect with your clients and prospects at a level that you would regard as primed for new business activity?
- What’s your market share? How has that market share changed?
Questions like these help you move ahead. Success in professional sales today is a very personal thing. Results come from personal action and incremental improvements in doing so. Take action every day; that’s what sales success is all about.
When it comes to working in sales, albeit in any industry, it is essential that you have a solid and reliable prospecting model established at a personal level. That will be something that works for you and you can commit to every working day.
The reason why prospecting and networking has to occur every day is simply that consistency builds results. Lack of call and contact consistency tends to ‘reset the numbers’ and you lose ground on all the efforts and things that you may already have done.
Here are some top tips to help you get your system up and running:
- One of the most important parts of prospecting and networking is to create a habit in your business diary. A regular habit of prospecting and networking will take you forward in the marketplace. That being said, it takes quite some time to modify your business skills and habits. That can be some weeks of deliberate prospecting effort of before you accept the requirement to do the job in that way.
- Focus on just a few prospecting activities but make them quite effective and consistent. I go back to the point that consistency will be critical to the results that you achieve. Like it or not, the cold calling process will be part of your prospecting model. Reach out to new people every day through fresh telephone calls, direct letters, and door knocking. Use your business card as an affective and timeless business tool.
- The prospecting process is not a sales pitch. It is a communication between two people to establish common ground and potential interest. When the client or prospect appreciates your knowledge and skills, the chances of new business escalate. It is just a matter of maintaining contact over time and waiting for the right opportunities to arise.
- Every prospecting call should be focused on the opportunity of a meeting. Meetings build relationships, and relationships lead to potential transactions, agreements, and contracts.
- Provide valuable market information and resource updates to your clients and prospects. At every opportunity and certainly on a regular basis send out product and service updates. Follow-up that information with a telephone call or meeting. Most of the business you create will be through a personal relationship built over the long term with the right people.
- 6. Practice your dialogue for presentations and prospecting. At every opportunity refine the words that you use and the phrases that relate to your product or service. Regular practice will help you with your conversions in prospecting.
It is not difficult to rise the top of any industry as a top salesperson. It is simply a matter of determining the right processes to support your actions and activities. From that point onwards, you repeat the process is every day and consistently grow your client or prospect database.
A clear advantage here is that most salespeople do not have the commitment to do the work required in prospecting and networking. That leaves the marketplace wide open for those quality salespeople that can get their industry and focus under control.
Why Do People Need You?
When it comes to selling your services or prospecting today, you really should know why people would need what you have to offer. That knowledge helps you frame prospecting conversations and questions. You can ask good questions like:
- I am calling to see if you have any issues with your stationery costs that may be lifting costs for the business.
- I am calling to see if you are struggling with photocopier operational costs in your office structure.
- I am calling to see if you are having issues with car parking costs for the staff.
- I am calling to see if you are struggling with sales team performance particularly with reaching budget.
- I am calling to see if warehousing costs are a frustration to your business and if you’d be open to looking at other premises in the local area.
- I am calling to see if you are having issues with business insurance and if it is impacting performance of the company overall.
Specific questions like these help you identify pressure points and frustrations for customers and prospects.
So why do prospects and customers really need you? Answer these questions:
- What can you provide?
- How is it done?
- What is your point of difference?
- What is your benefit to the client?
- How can you improve the situation for the customers that you serve?
- Are you really different when it comes to comparisons with other similar suppliers?
- What advantages do you bring to the customers that you help?
- How are you better than your competitors?
- Why should a prospect or customer listen to you?
Taking these questions you can easily phrase some targeted questions that help your prospecting conversations and connections. Unless the client or prospect has a genuine need or interest there is no need to take matters further. Frame your questions so you know if the customer is a clear match for you.
When you work in a sales position in a competitive industry, you really do need to understand your character when it comes to selling and the factors that go with it. When you truly understand how you like to do things, you can build on your strengths as a top salesperson.
There are many different ways to establish and grow as a person in your sales career or industry.
Here are some questions to review and consider as part of this process:
- If you are presented with some serious challenges in your marketplace, are you prepared to do what it takes to create the necessary opportunity and new business?
- Do you like to listen to other salespeople when it comes to market place activity, or do you work on the basis of your own experience and momentum?
- How do you see the opportunity for building a client base and selection of services in your business and market today?
- When negotiations get tough, do you know how to move to the next level and use the necessary confidence to close the deal?
- Do you practice your professional sales skills on a daily basis so that you can grow your client base from regular prospecting and referral business?
- Exactly how much knowledge to you have when it comes to your product or service? Can it be better?
They are interesting questions which many salespeople will answer quite differently. It is the top salespeople in any profession that are highly independent and driven when it comes to skills and market activity. Every day they strive to grow their client base and or attract more sales. They look at ways to do just that.
A ‘great salesperson’ you can be if you decide to move ahead with your skills. Take charge of your market by knowing where you are right now and planning the factors of personal improvement that will take you forward.
In this business world the average client is usually very sophisticated and savvy when it comes to negotiating an agreement of any order for goods and services. The best sales results are obtained when the client is fully satisfied with the details and the price. Pressured selling doesn’t come into it today much at all.
As a salesperson today, the best results will come to you through high quality customer connection and satisfaction. Within those factors the following apply:
- Prospecting on a trust basis
- Building long term relationships
- Providing valuable product and service information
- Understanding the customer requirements
- Solving the customer need
- Backing up on the deal follow through
So the message here is to drop the ‘out of date’ sales clichés and systems from the traditional ‘old school’ of pressured selling and negotiation. Seek to connect with the client and build business out of the new connection.
The start of the sales cycle can take months to establish with some prospects so you have to keep connecting and meeting new people. Freshen up your prospect list with daily prospecting. Some clients will be easy to reach and others will not ‘open the door’ on the connection until they trust you. On average it takes about 3 or 4 attempts to reach clients before they will connect with you. Prove yourself as professional and diligent with a relevant way of approaching your clients.
Our customers like to be treated with respect. Any salesperson that overlooks that process is doomed to failure. The average customer today will not be pressured and is more likely to slow the sales cycle if they feel pushed.
Here are some key business skills that will help the average salesperson move ahead today with prospects, clients, and sales results. Develop your sales system around these things:
- Your thinking will impact your actions, so focus on improving your thinking on business, clients, and prospecting. Expect the best results as you take action, and those results will come to you.
- Improve your prospecting model through regular effort and daily prospecting.
- Establish a clear set of guidelines that can help you stay in touch with clients using relevance as a reason for connection.
- Give great service when an order is placed.
- Seek referral business when the time is right.
- After the sale, keep in contact to ensure client satisfaction and your availability for making another sale.
Business today is not hard; it is just logical. Top salespeople develop a sales system based on trust, and then they stick to the plan of contact. So how many people do you need to know? In most cases you will need a database of several hundred qualified prospects. You should be contacting all of your prospects at least once every 90 days.
When it comes to getting results today in any business and selling environment, it is important that you have a plan designed to help you take the personal steps that are required to get the results that you need.
Most industries and businesses are quite competitive. Many businesses will have a sales team or a sales force that has a primary goal of achieving results. If that team is like most and of average configuration and consistency, less than 10% of the sales force will be high performers.
The fact of the matter is that successful salespeople in high performing teams work to a plan and to a system. They understand what it takes to get the job done. Personal discipline is a very big part of being a top salesperson. Average salespeople struggle with discipline at a personal level. This can be changed but it does take commitment from the individual.
From a salesperson perspective the following numbers are really top priority:
- Prospecting contacts
- New clients
- Repeat business
- Key Accounts
- Sales per customer
- Sales per salesperson
- Sales per week, month, and quarter
A salesperson without a plan is really lost in business focus and will rarely produce any significant results. If your remuneration and income depends upon getting the sales in the door, then you really do need to construct your personal sales system and focus to take you forward. Any year can be your top year as far as sales and income; it is just up to you to develop the focus and the momentum.
Here are some steps below to help you in constructing your sales plan for the coming year.
- Decide what is important to you from a business perspective. Exactly what is it that you require to take your career or your business forward? In most cases it will be a combination of income, client base, market share, conversions, and new business. When you create the business, customer service will also soon be a focus for you in retaining long-term relationships and converting them to key accounts. From a business perspective, key accounts are of high value and will strengthen the goodwill of the business. Ultimately key accounts should be the focus of the entire sales team. A key account client has the right attributes for staying with you as a high value customer producing many sales and return business of significant size.
- Understand the things that you must do each and every day. Many salespeople just let the day evolve rather than work to a plan. This is perhaps one of the biggest problems in professional selling. When you understand how things can take over your diary and your time, your soon know the high value of a plan as part of your business day. The plan and your discipline in keeping to it will help you get results. There is a big difference between ordinary results and high value results. You need the results that will produce high value outcomes for your personal career.
- Know the things that will derail your progress on a regular basis. They will happen and for this reason must be controlled. At least 1/3 your day needs to be under control and deliberately systemized. Inside this 1/3 day you should be controlling the key elements that produce the results that you require. The diary and your discipline go hand in hand. The other 2/3 rds. of the day can be devoted to ordinary things that are of a general business nature.
- Be determined to break through the habit barrier from a business perspective. Habits are the only things that really matter when it comes to attracting sales and getting results. It takes a salesperson about three or four weeks of deliberate hard work to create a new habit in business. Many salespeople are not strong when it comes to discipline and focus. You have a choice, and you can see the problem. Take the right actions.
- Take steps every day to your plan. Small steps will grow your outcomes. It is the repeated steps that will get the momentum up and the client results that you need.
- The way you think impacts the way you act. It is a fact that ‘stinking thinking’ will divert your actions into chaos and dilemma. As a professional salesperson, direct your thinking to the things that really matter and improve your thinking processes so that the right actions occur. It is a very simple formula, but it does take significant personal process and control.
The sales planning process can take you from the average levels of sales to the top of your market very quickly. It all comes down to what you do yourself on a daily basis and how you improve those processes. Create your system and take the required action.