The most common issue found relating to sales growth:
Having presented many courses on various sales and business-related subjects in a variety of lengths, I have found a few issues that arise that prove common to all my clients. Perhaps the most important of these is the need for the sales individual or team to become proactive as opposed to reactive in their approach. In many cases, sales leads are obtained from responses to marketing effort or repeat business. This is excellent, as it means that the market has seen the value being offered and is keen to purchase. However, maybe due to new competition, or failing customers, this can result in reduced turnover. They have recognized that relying on existing clients or responses to marketing can become risky and unpredictable. Moving to a more proactive approach will help ensure all sales opportunities are found, targeted and won.
What do we mean by ‘proactive’? How can we be MORE proactive?
Identify two key aspects:
The markets you are serving already, and
The markets you would like to serve.
…or, put it another way….
Your existing or past customers, and
Simple strategy for being proactive in sales;
1/ Decide the best balance for you of existing customer and new customer business. You need both! One for ‘bread and butter’ income; to cover the ‘overheads’ and more, and the other for business growth and future strength.
2/ Revisit existing or previous customers on a regular basis. Calling is best; sending a newsletter is the minimum contact. Never miss an opportunity for repeat business or to cross and up-sell. Lack of such contact allows the competition to ‘move-in’.
3/ Choose your new markets and prospects carefully. Make sure they are likely to have the need, the money, and that they are likely to appreciate the value you offer.
4/ ‘Seed’ that market; make sure your business is known to them before you make contact, by;
- identifying likely decision makers and sending them publicity materials, or,
- using the internet, finding a mutual contact and asking for a referral, or
- invest in exposure in their trade press or institution website, or,
- any of the above and more…..
5/ Following number 4 above, any contacting now will be far less cold. If you have gained a referral, they will be happier to take the call. If you haven’t, you can at least refer to your article or letter in the publication or website related to their industry. It doesn’t have to be a ‘cold call’!
This is just one approach you can use to help you find new customers and win new sales.
Being proactive should also include actions to:
– plan where to target new prospects
– regularly monitor and review your carefully chosen KPIs to ensure positive progress and growth
– ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty
– prepare responses to possible criticism
– prepare contingency plans in case the unexpected prevents progress in your chosen direction
- There are many advantages to being more proactive, you have;
- Higher profile with existing customers and new prospects
- Warmer contacts!
- The chance to target and win far more business opportunities
- Greater credibility and respect in the industry or market
- More resilience against competition
- More market knowledge, particularly in future trends.
So, don’t wait for them to come to you. In market downturns, this can be fatal. Be proactive, ‘go-and-get-it’!
As my late Father used to tell me; “The door to success is labelled ‘PUSH’.”
Is it them, or is it you?
Here’s a quick check list for you to be sure it doesn’t happen;
To make sure it’s not you:
1/ Have you properly identified and agreed the need? – if you’ve assumed what they want instead of asking questions, then delays may happen while you clear up any confusion
2/ Have you managed expectations? – if they are expecting ‘A’ in 3 weeks and you give them ‘B’ in 5 weeks you may lose the business or at least have it delayed. Make sure they know and agree what to expect.
3/ Have you agreed the process? Their process for the purchase may be very different from your sales process. Talk to them, make it match.
To make sure it’s not them:
1/ if there is a delay from them – do you know all the decision makers and influencers so that any delay can be explained and overcome ASAP?
2/ if there is silence from them – have you agreed with the customer the best and most effective ways, and how often you can communicate with the key people in the sale?
3/ if it’s price – are you selling on value, not on price? i.e. stick tight to your quote and offer more value, rather than less price.
– Six common issues that can at least delay, and sometimes lose the business.
– Six simple strategies that will help to make sure they don’t happen.
– Smooth the way, win the business.
To find out more and consider other barrier solutions why not come along to the next Salient Seminar: ‘What’s Stopping You?’ Details HERE.
There may still be time to add to your sales this year
NOW is the time to put together your plan for next year’s sales
I meet many businesses that, if doing well, make no plans to ‘feed the pipeline’, to seek and win new business on a regular basis. At some stage, the feast will stop and famine will take over. At that stage it may be too late to ask these questions;
- Where will my sales come from?
– have you targeted specific markets and customers?
– have you followed up all previous opportunities?
– and be sure you’re given the chance to quote
– are you talking to the decision maker?
- Am I sufficiently skilled in pitching, negotiating and closing?
– enough to win the business?
– enough to ensure the best deal?
Did you have a sales plan for this year? If you did make a plan; you have now reached the fourth quarter of the year. Are you on plan?
DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING?
You did make a plan? Good move; not enough businesses do. Too many rely on the ‘Field of Dreams’ principle of ‘If you build it they will come’. Unfortunately, business is never as simple as that. Building a business ready to supply the market is one thing, but;
– making it attractive to those who may buy from you
– developing an interest from those who could use your products and services
– showing how well you can fulfil their need
– securing the business by gaining their commitment, and
– delivering and exceeding their expectations
…are all skills that can be learned, developed and embedded into your selling process.
Selling need not be difficult, stressful or something to avoid! Selling can be ethical, simple, even fun! Being better at selling means winning more sales. But, you do need some useful skills and techniques to help ensure this happens.
So Plan – Action – Review. Review means measuring your progress against plan and making any changes needed to remain on, or exceed your plan. You cannot measure everything, but knowing where you are against your sales plan will help you to ensure positive progress and achievement.
So, you have a plan for next year? How about aligning it with you 5 year and 10 year plans?! Don’t rely on the short term view; turn that wish list into reality by making longer term plans for it to happen. Make sure you know where you’re going!
Salient Sales & Training – taking the pressure out of selling
(If you are not happy with your answers to any of the above questions, why not book on our next seminar? Details are on the website, under ‘Events’.