Growth Spurts in Business – 5 great tips for selling more

Tips on selling more

Sell more and get a growth spurt!

Turnover lower than you’d like?  Plan for a growth spurt by selling more.  How to sell more?  For starters, try these five simple tips;

1/ Start with existing customers and see if they want more  – apply the Pareto Principle: 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers.  Call the 20%!

2/ If they still like you, ask for referrals and testimonials!  – personal recommendations give you more credibility and will attract more new business.

3/ Check that the market wants what you provide by asking a couple of key questions – use Survey-Monkey or similar.  Responses may show you need to tweak, or even change your offer to make it more attractive.

4/ Check where you have sold successfully in the past, identify the common sector, product or need and target that with renewed enthusiasm.  This may not be the top 20% (above) but it could be the easiest sector to target and win new business.

5/ Devise a product variation or amalgamation and make it a special offer of some sort to attract new interest.  You could make it part of a short, or longer marketing campaign.

These are just a few of the many ideas and strategies that can be applied to your business that will make a positive difference to your sales figures.

If you want to increase your sales figures, come along to the Salient half-day Workshop or full-day Masterclass on 17th or 18th March 2016.  Discover many more ways of selling more, and how to apply these and other practical and simple growth strategies to your business.

Come along to ‘HOW TO SELL MORE’.  There will be more than 20 tips on how to sell more.  Use just a few of these and your business will soon have a growth spurt!  More details here.

Beware the spread of ‘Sales Phobia’

Has anyone else noticed this? ‘Sales phobia.’

A contact of mine who runs a business that provides professional training to education, public sector and professional bodies, was telling me that his clients appear to have adopted sales-avoidance strategies.  I suspected this was a wind-up until he told me that, for some, their new term for this was ‘Customer Engagement’.  Others had replaced sales and selling with the catch-all of ‘Business Development’.  I had previously heard of a consultant in the south of England effectively demoting sales by saying it was part of the discipline of ‘Business Strategies’.

Sadly, there may be a simple reason for this; bad experiences of being sold-to and more people are expecting to be given the ‘hard sell’ As a result they do not respect the sales process or people who sell.

Having spent 20 years in field sales and sales management, I have been very aware of the pressure that senior management put onto their sales teams.  In the companies I worked for, it was always ‘do whatever it takes to win the business’.  In the extreme, one MD said to a colleague of mine ‘if you don’t win the business, don’t bother coming back’!  This culture fostered some terrible sales practices, all based on pressure, manipulation and worse.

At the same time, business-to-consumer sales was facing growing and tougher competition and so, instead of offering better service as an enticement to buy, they too adopted pressure selling techniques.  We all remember the awful reputations gained by car and double glazing salesmen!

Unfortunately, I believe that, while some improvement has been made, pressure selling is still rife and the sales discipline as a whole has become tarnished by these unethical practices.  The culture is also perpetuated by the likes of The Apprentice, and, occasionally, even Dragon’s Den., i.e., if you don’t do what is expected, if you don’t win, you are humiliated and you are out.

When selling, how far would YOU go to protect your income, your standard of living?

I suspect that this continuing culture has caused the name change.  Perhaps our own professional bodies should take notice and make solid pronouncements against pressure selling techniques.  Perhaps not enough has been done to ‘clean-up’ sales with clearly defined boundaries of what is ethical and what is at least ‘dodgy’.  I feel passionately about ethical selling and have flown the flag for some years now, but I too come across very negative attitudes towards selling and sales people in general.

I aim to bring back enjoyment and satisfaction in selling by teaching a clear and clean sales process that is open and understood by all prospects.

In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson; “Everyone lives by selling something”.  Often this is just selling ourselves; making a good impression; having a positive impact.  If we cannot do this without being devious or manipulating our prospects, then clearly we cannot be trusted and perhaps we deserve the demotion to a sub-discipline.

In short, ethical selling must inherently be more successful, especially in the longer term.

  • Pressure selling is less likely to result in repeat business or referrals.
  • Building business relationships and selling ethically reduces the need to keep looking for new customers.
  • Customers who don’t enjoy buying from you are less likely to come back for more.
  • Keeping existing customers AND finding new ones will build a business far quicker than if you constantly have to look for new opportunities because former customers have voted with their feet.

If we don’t all start flying-the-flag for strong, ethical sales, then fewer people will respect it, expectations will remain negative, and we will all become ‘customer engagement’ experts!

Do you have a ‘Sales Phobia’?

Let me ask a different question:

Does the idea of selling cause you to palpate or procrastinate?

Do you fear a prospect rejection, or worry about making a fool of yourself when asking for the business?

If the answer is yes, you may have a sales phobia.

Unfortunately, I fear this is becoming more common.  I am doing my best to change business culture to accept that sales can and should be ethical, simple, jargon-free and enjoyable!  I achieve this in most cases.  However, there is a risk that this phobia is becoming institutionalized.  It should be a high profile and honourable profession.  Don’t let the gainsayers try and tell you otherwise!

Selling can be even more fun than buying!

How to become more ‘Proactive’.

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

New customers

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’.”

What’s Stopping You?….. from winning that business?

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.

HOW MANY SALES PEOPLE DOES IT TAKE TO SCREW IN A LIGHT BULB?

To me there are three possible answers to this.

(The ‘not quite hilarious’ answer is number 3.)

At the end I will challenge you to find a fourth!

3 possible answers:

1/  When I was part of the ‘corporate world’; field-selling and directing sales for larger companies; the glib answer to this was ‘None’, that’s the Marketer’s job’.  This old chestnut was coined by territorial salesmen who neither understood nor respected the valuable work done by the marketers (or ‘marketeers’ as some like to call themselves).  The reply was at best, mildly amusing, but, to me, it simply emphasized the big divide between the sales and marketing departments.

For whatever size of business, sales and marketing need to work together. Good marketing raises your profile and attracts new customers but does not ‘win’ the business.  Sales skills are needed when the new prospects contact your business.  Good marketing can result in a much faster and easier sale as you avoid having to find and make contact with new prospects.  But remember; the sale will not just happen; you will still need to pitch, negotiate and close, and then manage the new client.

2/  The real answer to ‘how many sales people…?’  If the marketing has been done effectively, then the customer will have realised;

  • the value of a light bulb (it’s gone dark), thus identifying the need, and….
  • a good idea of how the product (the light bulb) is applied (screwed-in).

A helpful sales person may then show the customer how to achieve more light by buying and inserting the new bulb, thus, fulfilling the need.  However, at the end of the day, it is the customer’s responsibility to actually screw-in the bulb.  So, again, the answer is ‘none’!

3/  The answer is 2;  one holds the light bulb still, while the sales manager makes the world revolve around him (as he likes to think it does)….

HERE’S THE CHALLENGE: let me know your suggestions for answers to the question:

HOW MANY SALES PEOPLE DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHT BULB?!!

Answers may be humorous, ironic, or simply thought-provoking.  The best entry will win a half-day of one-to-one sales & marketing coaching, aimed at lighting the way ahead for your business and helping you to grow your sales.  (This can be in person at the Salient office in Royal Wootton Bassett, or by Skype and email.)

The winner will be decided on May 31st 2015.

Why ‘TECHNICAL’ Sales Training?

WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT ‘TECHNICAL SALES TRAINING’ ?Salient Technical Sales

Good, standard ‘Sales Training’ covers all the bases and offers proven skills and techniques that result in excellent sales conversion in any market.

‘Technical Sales Training’ does all of the above, but also adds in the extra level of skill needed to sell into technical markets, such as:

  • Identifying all decision makers, technical and commercial
  • Building relationships with engineers as well as buyers
  • Understanding and adapting to the different needs of technical and commercial personnel
  • Ensuring all specification and quality needs are addressed as well as price, deliveryand other commercial requirements

General Sales Training can be adapted for individual businesses, but it is Technical Sales Training that covers all the issues that can be experienced when two very diverse mindsets have to be satisfied before a sale can happen.

CASE STUDY (personal experience as a sales novice; from the early part of my sales career!)

A large established customer specialising in car instrumentation needed specialist electronic circuitry to be manufactured in significant quantities.

The Chief Engineer called me in and over 4-5 months our parts were prototyped, quality checked and ‘designed-in’.  The Chief was very pleased and said the order for the first million parts would be with us in a matter of weeks.

Nothing happened and contact attempts were ignored so I made another appointment to see him.  At this meeting I learned that our main rival had won the business!  The Chief was furious as he had not had parts from them and had not met with any of their personnel.  He wanted to give us the business but had been over-ruled by the purchasing department who had approved our competitors using an extensive paperwork exercise(!)

The lessons:  Always involve both technical and commercial personnel in any sales approach, and avoid assumptions, such as who is the decision maker.

I never made that mistake again!

This is a classic example of just one of the issues that can be faced when selling into technical markets.  There are many more as it is rare that technical personnel understand the needs and priorities of the commercial department, and vice versa.

Those skilled in technical sales can overcome all these issues and more.

The courses are ideal for technicians and engineers moving into sales as well as for commercially trained personnel needing to sell into technical markets.

For more information, contact Andy on 01793 843118, or 07941 041364, or email andyentwistle@salientsales.co.uk