Following my two articles “Mindset of a successful sales team” and “Importance of planning in sales” published in 2019, I felt the necessity to complement those two topics with one more that is just as critical to your success in sales.
Today we will focus on, and learn together, how you can improve your sales outcomes. I have been working with sales teams and professionals for many years to help them grow exponentially beyond their expectations and reach higher levels of success in their business and careers.
The sales profession is evolving every day. In the blink of an eye, new competitors emerge, copies of your products or service start competing with you, market dynamics change, new government regulations can be introduced, consumer buying behaviour continues to evolve and only the best will win in the market place.
No matter what industry you are in, what worked well in 2015 may not be good enough today. This is no time for trial and error or merely “order taking”; this is a time to sell. Let’s go through some techniques you can apply to improve your sales performance, reduce your cost of selling, and ensure your growth.
1. Determine Your Clear Goal.
I cannot stress this enough. Make sure you have a clear goal and think with the end in mind. If you don’t know what you want, how can you possibly know how you are going? “A ship in the harbour without a destination will always do the figure 8”. Don’t let that be you. Set the goal for yourself, and don’t just rely on your CFO to set that for you through a budget.
2. Clarify Your Mission.
Begin by understanding your business niche. What do you do best? Who needs what you do? How do you best approach these prospects? How much are they willing to pay? If these questions are not answered easily, campaign at the top for clarity and vision.
3. Only Pursue Prequalified Leads.
Contacting more potential customers doesn’t necessarily create proportionately more sales, because you spend more time with people who aren’t likely to buy yet. Instead, do some homework to prioritize opportunities based on who’s bought in the past.
Have different strategies that will move your potential clients through the funnel so that when you do spend more time with them, they are closer to deciding than not. This needs to be a genuine approach based on your clients’ needs. Once a client understands the “Use” value vs. the “Cash” value for himself or herself, they will be more willing to sign that deal.
4. Make Your Opening More Compelling, Convincing, and Compact.
Illustrate the desirable outcome, make your words ring with truth, and keep them within the 15 to 30 seconds mark. Ask yourself, how can I make my opening compelling? What is going to emotionally grab the client’s attention? Again, always be genuine. If you truly know that your product or service will help your potential client, you can then focus on your client’s needs.
5. Sell to Customer Needs.
Always assume your clients will buy only what they need. How can you convince them of that need? Emphasize the features and benefits of your product or service that reduce costs and solve problems for the customer. Sometimes you can reposition your product or service. For example, if you sold wool outfits for their look and feel; now stress the wool’s durability and lasting value. Be creative in your sales and marketing.
6. Clearly Define and Continually Refine Your Brand.
In my experience as a business consultant, I always look at brand refinement as the best and most efficient method to increase sales for businesses. I will go through this on a regular bases in my own business as well. It does not have to be a long and arduous task. Clearly define who you are, what you do, what you don’t do, who your best customers are, what are the current and new market trends, why your customers choose you, and why they may choose a competitor over you.
Refining your brand helps you leverage your unique experience as a business owner to create focused messaging and communication about you, your products and your services. This also helps you re-establish your own connection with your brand. It gives an opportunity to realize once again how strong your brand is and helps set you up for the next phase.
7. Listen More Than You Talk.
We have two ears and one mouth. We all need to use them in that proportion. When speaking with a customer, don’t give a pitch about what your product can do. Instead, have a conversation about what the customer needs are. Ask intelligent questions to help you discover how and when you can work together.
While sales may be a numbers game, it is all about finding the right customers, with the right needs, and help them by fulfilling those needs. Sales is not about forcing or manipulating people into buying what you have. It’s about understanding and then meeting the customers’ needs.
8. Keep Your Pipeline Full
When you have got plenty of customers and sales are good, it’s easy to stop developing future opportunities. However, if you don’t lay the groundwork, you could end up spinning your wheels next quarter. Block in time for new business development no matter how busy you are and how many sales you have coming in today. The general rule of thumb is, if in this quarter you do no new business development, it will show in your results in the new quarter. You are only as good as your last quarter's activity.
9. Work on the Basics.
Even the best of the best have room for improvement. Make a decision to improve daily, and set goals to force yourself to do the things you don’t like to do. Be more creative in your prospecting, fact-finding, and questioning and presentation skills. Imagine what it would be like to be the perfect salesperson and compare yourself to the ideal. Determine the gaps and start working on them now.
10. Identify and Eliminate your Non-Productive Activities.
Focus on your goals. Test every activity for its importance and urgency. Create an ideal schedule, and test your actual time use against it daily. Identify your non-productive activities on a quarterly basis. You will be surprised how quickly bad habits can set in place. Then ask yourself how can I turn these activities into productive ones. Remember, just one hour a day used more productively adds up to more than six extra weeks of productive time a year.
11. Understand the Ebb and Flow of Business.
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. Do this regularly to help you realize how far you have come. There are ups and downs in every business. When we are experiencing the downs, we tend to forget this is a natural part of business and so we focus negatively on what did not work rather than celebrating what did. Just know for every down, there is an up and vice versa. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we understand how to continue our long-term growth. Just have fun with it and enjoy the learning. You will be so much better for it. You may experience some pain during the downtimes, but you don’t have to suffer. Just focus on riding that wave until you are on the up again. It’s just a matter of time, so long as you are implementing all the right activities. The trick is not to stop.
If you need to improve sales performance or increase sales results I can help through assessment, consulting, enablement, coaching, and training. We can discuss your needs and talk through some options. Send an email to [email protected]