In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains what the successful sales leaders and salespeople are implementing right now to make sure they have a great 2017….
The New Year is a great opportunity to set some new sales goals, and some ‘Sales Resolutions’
Here are my suggestions for the Top Five New Years’ Resolutions for your sales team……
If your ‘goal’ or ‘outcome’ for 2017 is to increase your sales, or that of your team, one of the things to look at is to increase your prospecting activities.
Most salespeople tend not to have enough prospects, and therefore rely on most of their sales opportunities coming off, in order to hit their targets. In most cases, that’s a recipe for failure.
Take a look at whatever prospecting activities you’ve been doing (that have been working for you, of course) and look at how you can increase them. You might also want to increase the ‘range’ of activities as well.
Whether your prospecting activities include networking, cold calling, referrals, cold canvassing or anything else, simply upping the activity will generate better results. Once you’ve done this, it’s now time for the second step…..
This is starting to happen more and more, as buyers take control of the sales process. By ‘bullying’ I meant things like…….
• Playing you off against competitors
• Using you as ‘price fodder’ in the process (with no intention of buying from you and wasting your time)
• ‘Commoditising’ the sales process
• Ignoring your suggestions and advice and insisting on ‘their’ spec
• Forcing you to lower your prices and eroding your margin/profit
Far too many buyers now are taking control of the process and forcing salespeople to dance to THEIR tune – usually resulting in the salesperson having control over the process, no influence on the process, and no sale at the end of the process!
Make sure you don’t fall into this trap!
You can only do this step when you have a lot of Sales opportunities (hence my recommendation in No 1 above), so if you haven’t got enough opportunities yet, go back to that step until you have!
Once you have enough opportunities, the next step is to ‘filter’ them. What I mean by that is to look at which opportunities are better for you. So how on earth do you judge which are better than others?
If you’ve already ‘profiled’ your opportunities, then you’ll already know what I mean. If you haven’t, here are some quick tips. From experience either you or your manager will have an idea which of your opportunities are most likely to convert, which will do so faster than others, and which will be worth the most money.
This might be based on their industry, the level of decision maker you’re talking to, their buying motivation (you have found that out, haven’t you?) size of project, approval process and impending deadlines etc.
Based on the results of your ‘filtering’, you can now work out which opportunities you need to focus on, and which ones require you to qualify them a little harder. Please note, if the thought of doing this makes you hesitant or concerned that you might ‘lose’ an opportunity or two, then you probably haven’t got enough opportunities in the first place – go back to the first resolution above!
Pretty much EVERY sales leader I speak to, wishes their salespeople were better at controlling their sales pipeline!
Most salespeople have deals in their pipeline that actually have no hope of coming off, yet they often don’t realise it! Also, when I ask salespeople to talk me though their pipeline, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re not ‘on top’ of it, they don’t know where they stand in relation to others in their deals, and often don’t have a concrete plan for bringing that piece of business in, rather than losing it to a competitor.
That needs addressing, right now! Every salesperson should be on top of their sales pipeline. They should know where they stand in relation to their competitors in every deal. They should know the buying motivation of the client, who they need to influence, and what timescales are at work as a minimum. They should also know what actions they need to take (and by when) in order to win the business, rather than lose it to a competitor.
If you’re not on top of your pipeline, it might be time to look at your qualification of prospects, or your ability to get the ‘deeper needs’ from the client earlier in the sales process. Or it could be down to your failure to ‘stand out’ from the competition right at the start of the process. Find out which one it is and do something about it, now!
Right now we’re in a competitive market. With competitors’ after our clients more than ever before. With prospects comparing us to others more than ever before. With meetings with Senior Decision Makers being harder to get than ever before.
So it often comes down to your salesperson versus your competitors’ salesperson. Their sales skills, versus their competitors’ sales skills. Who is going to win in that scenario? Who would you put your money on?
Now is the time to work on your own sales skills, and those of your team. To look at areas in which you could perform better. And to regularly invest time (and money where appropriate) in getting your team to where they need to be, in order to make sure YOU are winning the business, rather than your competitors!
Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on…….
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