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.
It really does not matter what industry you work in, competition is strong and active most of the time. Some of that competition will be relevant and of interest to your clients. The clients will be on the lookout for the best deal or supply arrangement. Those clients will listen to the offering of your business competitors, and over time you can lose your best clients to the competitors in your industry.
Complacency is not a ‘good look’ in business today. All of your clients are doing things with a greater focus on the ‘bottom line’. They know what is required to keep their business on track for the year given the changes in their industry.
The ‘glue’ that holds the client relationship together in most cases is the bond and connection that they have with you as the ‘specialist’ that you say you are. Are you the expert of choice that your clients would go to in times of pressure or need? Would they call you before they contact the competition with a concern or challenge that needs resolve?
Relationships are the Key
In key account management and customer service the ‘expert’ status is really of great importance to ongoing business. Our clients must know that they are dealing with the best supplier of relevant goods and services locally and regionally. You must be the best choice of supplier and they must know that.
Some clients put priorities on different aspects of the business relationships they have with their suppliers. It is up to you to know what those priorities are; ignore them at your peril. Here are some factors that could be considered in that assessment.
- The role that cost plays in the supply of goods and services.
- The pressures of time in ordering and delivery
- Relationships between your clients key staff and your personnel
- Communication regards the progress of orders and supply
- Contact processes and systems when a problem or challenge evolves
- Guarantees on workmanship and replacement strategies that minimise downtime and loss for the client.
- Any business advantage that you can provide your client with, that can improve their business effectiveness, costs and or timeliness.
Today we need to consider the clients business and get to know it comprehensively. When we do that we can see the right ways to protect our client base from ‘competitor attack’.
In these times of business stress, the client is the key to your ongoing liquidity and market share. Focus on the client and give them the best information, service, and backup solutions available. When you find new clients, look to improve the process where and when you can. Become that expert of choice that clients expect in these challenging business times.
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.
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.