Simple Sales Tracking Blog

20 Ideas to Find New Customers and Increase Sales

Whether you’re stumped for ideas or looking for a few new ones, we’ve put together a comprehensive bread & butter list of some of the most important.  Have we missed any?  Include your suggestions following in the comments.

Here they are in no particular order.

1. Ask for referrals.  Your social and business network may reach farther than you think.  Get in touch with others who know and trust you, your products and services.  Ask them if there’s anyone they know that they’d suggest you contact.  When you make the contact, be clear who referred you.

2. Ask for Feedback.  Learn what’s working and what’s not about your product or service.  Show that you care about your current customers feedback, implementing changes based on it.  They’ll love you for it and tell their friends.

3. Know your Customer.  You’d be surprised how few business owners really know who their customers are.  Do a survey, keep track, do whatever works.  By knowing your customer you’ll be able to refine your market and target more accurately; leading to less wasted time and increased sales.

4. Know your Products & Services.  Also known as “eating your own dog food” and “drinking your own champagne”.  Don’t just know about them, but use them yourself.  When you look through the eyes of your customers you’ll learn a lot.

5. Make it Easy to Buy.  Take out as many obstacles as possible to the sale.

6. Ask for the Business.  Don’t leave a sale open to chance and don’t shy away from closing the sale. If your prospect show they’re interested. Always be clear on the next step and when the sale can happen.

7. Include a Call to Action.  On all of your marketing material, always include a Call to Action. What is the next step you want the prospect to take.

8. Consider an Incentive or Referral Program. As mentioned in #1, referrals are important.  If you want to increase the scale of your referral network, try creating an incentive or referral program. This is no substitute for one-on-one relationships and requests for referrals from people who know and trust you.

9. Up sell & Inline Sale.  Not usually considered a strong method of attracting new customers, but one of the best ways to increase sales with existing ones.  Your customers already know and trust you.  Offer them something else they’ll also find valuable.

10. Be professional. On your website, in printed marketing material, how you dress.  Professionalism encourages trust. Disorganization and sloppiness promote the opposite.

11. Be Customer Focused.  Focus on the needs of your customer, not on your own needs.  Look closely at your written material. Does it focus on “I”, “We”, “Me”, or “you” and “your”?

12. Give Outstanding Customer Support. We’ve all waited on hold or worked through a labyrinth of phone menus trying to reach a support team.  Don’t be them. Be easy to reach, approachable, and friendly.  It doesn’t mean always saying yes, rather it means showing you care – even when the answer is no.

13. Develop a Sales System.  Any system – just make one and use it.

14. Provide More Value More Often.  Listen to feedback, produce and iterate.  Do this regularly and let your customers know you’re doing it.

15. Toot Your Own Horn.  We’ve all seen this done distastefully.  Done thoughtfully, it’s a great way to build up customers turned promoters. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team.

16. Be Trendy.  Don’t go out of your way to be trendy. But if you notice a trend that correlates to your offering, consider including it.

17. Don’t be Shy. Make sure everyone you know, knows what you’re up to.

18. Tell Everyone About Everything.  You might be selling XYZ, but at some point, make sure you let the prospect know about your other products and services that are appropriate. Sound obvious? It is. Yet, still this gets forgotten or ignored more than you’d think.

19. Give your Customers the Inside Scoop. Make sure you let your customers know about what’s happening. They’ll feel like they’re “in the know” and a stronger relationship will be developed.

20. Give Something Away For Free. Something of real value to your customer, but doesn’t necessarily cost you very much.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , , ,

What Are Your Key Prospecting Activities?

This is a question I always ask when meeting salespeople and sales managers.
The answer I often hear is “cold calling or managing referrals from existing clients.”

The next question I ask is “what processes do you have in place to maximise these opportunities?”

The answer is usually “none”!

Which leads me to the subject of this article which is “Prospecting Activities” or
more specifically  – “Planning your Prospecting”.

The first place to start in developing your plan is to work out your numbers.   The key numbers for us in sales are:

• Total sales for the year expressed in dollars
• Conversion ratios – leads to appointments – appointments lead to sales
• Number of sales we can expect from existing clients
• Number of new sales to new clients
• Average client value based on sales over 12 months e.g. an average customer spends $600/week every week, over 12 months they spend $31,200.  This is the real dollar average sale

By working through your numbers you will arrive at the estimated number of referrals you need to generate on a weekly basis to achieve your sales targets.

This will help you to focus on the prospecting activities that will yield the highest return for the time invested.

In my experience there is a hierarchy of prospecting activities salespeople participate in.

I have ranked these as to what I believe is the value of their effectiveness in generating qualified referrals which give the highest chance of converting to sales.

1. Referrals from centres of influence
2. Referrals from advocate clients
3. Self referrals from marketing and advertising
4. Referrals from business referral groups
5. Attending networking events
6. .
7. .
8. .
55.   Cold-Calling

 

For many salespeople the biggest challenge is managing their prospecting time
effectively, therefore focusing on the right prospecting activities can pay huge dividends if managed properly.

No 1 on this list is referrals from centres of influence.  This is the most valuable prospecting activity if managed correctly.

The key is selecting the right centres of influence.

The criteria we use is:

1. The very best at what they do
2. Have the same type of clients that you do but don’t compete
3. They are active in sales and business development
4. You may only have one in each field

Once we have selected our centre of influence (C.O.I.) the next step is managing the relationship.  This is where most salespeople drop the ball – they sell the concept of swopping referrals to the potential C.O.I. then neglect to follow up.

The key to managing these people is regular contact.  I recommend monthly face to face as this leads to a more solid relationship which in turn leads to more referrals therefore more sales.

We will look into this in more depth in my next article.

Sales Action Step –

Make a list of at least 10 professions who have the same type of clients that you have but don’t compete.     These will form the nucleus of your centre of influence group.

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , ,

Prospecting Plan – Do You Have One?

People don’t deliberately plan to fail but often fail to plan.

In sales one of the most crucial elements is a prospecting plan.

A challenge for many salespeople is they do not have one and as a result spend the vast majority of their selling time with their “friendlies” (clients they get on well with), who may be great people but not necessarily their “A” or “B” customers.    This often results in poor sales results and leads to a lack of growth.   These type of salespeople are often referred to as “Farmers”.

To develop a prospecting plan we need to start with clear sales targets and goals, as without these we cannot work out the activity target and our numbers.   Once we have a number we can work out our average sale which we divide into the total sale target to then come up with the number of sales we need to achieve the overall target.

From this we can divide by our closing ratio to see how many sales interviews we need to achieve our overall target.

We can now work out how many referrals we need to generate by again dividing this number by 80%.  Generally with referred leads 80% will give you an appointment.

This is what it looks like –

Sales Target  $500,000
÷           10,000        Average sales over 12 months
50         Sales required this year
÷                50%       Closing Ratio
______
100        Sales interviews this year
÷               80%       Appointment closing ratio
______
125        Referrals required this year to achieve sales target
÷                 46        Working weeks in year
_______
2.7        Referrals per week
=======

We now have the numbers, the important one for us is the number of referrals needed each week e.g. 2.7 as our example shows.  The next step is to plan where these referrals will come from.

Referrals come from many sources including existing clients, peer groups, referral groups, social networks, centres of influence, family and friends etc.  The challenge with many of these sources is at best they are spasmodical and at worst we get none at all.   We as salespeople are leaving referrals and our sales success to chance.

A survey conducted by CSO Insights in 2007 which analyzed lead generation published the following results –

5.7%    customer service
17.5%   customer referrals
24.4%   marketing programmes
11.6%  other
40.8%   self generated by salesperson

What these results clearly show is the greatest opportunity for frontline salespeople and business owners who have to sell their services to grow their business is through self generated leads.

To achieve this we need to systemize our referral systems, firstly from our existing clients and then through centres of influence, our two biggest/best sources of referred leads.

A question I often ask experienced salespeople is “how often do you ask your clients for referrals?” and the answer I get is   “hardly ever”.

The reason is they used to ask but after many “can’t think of anyone right now but will think about it” they gave up asking.   I often say the quality of your questions will determine the quality of the answers so if you want more referrals from existing clients stop asking “who do you know who might be interested in what we do?” and ask for a specific referral to someone you know they work with or associate with.

In my next article I will look at the key activities of a prospecting plan.

Quote of the Week:

                                             If you don’t ask the answer is always “No”

 

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

 

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

How Many Networking Opportunities Have You Wasted?

In this article I continue with the sins of networking theme from my last article.

The next sin is failing to establish a connection.

Effective networking means actively making a connection with the people you meet.  Your goal is not to meet everyone at the event.  You are better off having one or two meaningful conversations than collecting 10 business cards.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Outliers” talks about “super connectors” – these are people who know a vast amount of people and keep in regular contact with them – an example of a super connector was Paul Revere.

In 1775, Paul Revere made his famous ride to spread the word that the British were coming.  He rode North West to warn the settlements and local militaria.

His colleague fellow revolutionary William Dawes rode south.

Because of his many connections Paul was taken seriously by the townspeople he spoke to and the British met fierce resistance in the North.  While in the south they met virtually no resistance and believed the townspeople were actually loyal to them.

As Paul had developed so many contacts he was well known and trusted.  The opposite was true of William Dawes.

The message – get connected and just as important stay in touch on a regular basis!

One last point on being connected comes from the book “The Luck Factor” by Richard
Wiseman.    It was found one of the key traits of “lucky people” was they kept regular contact with a large number of people.  In meeting more people it increased their chance of opportune meetings.

The next sin is inability to articulate your unique selling proposition (USP)

Have you ever met anyone, had a conversation about their business and at the end were no clearer about what they offered in their business?

This has happened to me on more than one occasion.  We need to be able to clearly state what we do for our clients and what an ideal client for our business would look like. Stating “anyone would be a good prospect” is far too broad.  The more specific we are about what we offer and about who we are looking for the more chance we have of getting a qualified referral.

At the next event you attend consider some of the key points we have looked at in this article – put them into practice – and look for the results.

Quote of the Day:

It isn’t just what you know, and it isn’t just who you know,
It’s actually who you know, who knows you and what you do for a living.

                                                                                                                         Bob Burg

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , ,

How Effective Is Your Networking?

Everyone talks about networking to improve business; however I find it to be an overused word and underused strategy by many of the salespeople and business owners I meet at so called “networking events”.

Many people think of networking as going to a business event in search of business opportunities however it is much more than this.  It’s a very cost effective way of doing business through referred leads if it is managed correctly.

The “Barrons Business Guide” Dictionary of Business Terms defines networking as –
“making use of professional contacts”

You can break network into two words – “net” and “work”.
Your “net” is made up of the people and businesses you interconnect with
Your “work” is the building and maintenance of your net.

To be effective in your networking you need to have systems.

A “system” is defined as “organization of functionally interactive units for the achievement of a common goal”

Some systems for networking would include –

  1. A clear strategy for each event/meeting
  2. A clear profile of the type of prospects you are looking for.  Many salespeople don’t have a clear picture of this and tend to say they are interested in anyone and are then condemned to spend their time with the wrong prospects
  3. Lists of prospects you may want introductions to – be specific
  4. An “elevator speech” or “value statement”
  5. List of questions to ask new contacts
  6. Follow-up contact systems

Let’s look at some of the “sins of networking”.

1. Attending the wrong events –

When I first got into sales I attended every event that was going and eagerly gave away as many of my business cards as I could as I had read somewhere you should give away 5 cards each day.   I now believe there are three uses for business cards –

  • Free lunch (lucky draw)
  • Possible leads – networking events (dubious)
  • Get the other persons card (No.1 reason)

2. Talking Too Much –

Let’s face it we love talking about ourselves and our businesses and I know I’m no different to anybody else.  I think it was Mark Twain who said “a bore is someone who opens their mouth and puts both feats in it”
Another favorite – “a closed mouth gathers no foot”

Many of us are so busy “waiting to talk” that we are barely listening to the other person.  Something I strive to do in these situations is “to be more interested than interesting” which brings me to sin no. 3.

3. Not asking enough questions –

More importantly-  enough of the right questions.
The most effective way to build trust and rapport is to ask good questions that connect with who you are having a conversation with.
A question I am often asked is – “what if they don’t ask what we do”?
The law of reciprocity usually kicks in and eventually they will ask, but at the end of the day if nothing else you’ve learnt a lot about them and their business.

I will continue with more “sins of networking” in my next article, in the meantime keep your sinning to a minimum!!

Quote:

Internalize the Golden Rule of sales that says –

“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to,
those people they know, like and trust.”
                                                                                                          Bob Burg

 

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, Uncategorized, , , ,

Which Type of Salesperson Are You?

There is an old quote which we can adapt that goes –

“There are three kinds of salespeople – those who make things happen, those that watch things happen and those who are wondering what happened.”

It’s an oldie but a goodie.

In fact there are generally two types of salespeople I come across in my business.  The first are what I would characterize as “improvisers” – they seldom do any preparation and rely on intuition and instinct to carry them through.   They approach every sales interview as an adventure and while they still make sales they tend to be very inconsistent.

The second type are the “systemisers” – these are the professionals and they have a sales plan which includes activity targets and strategies to insure consistency and more importantly predictability in their results.

The systemisers are characterized by pre-sales planning and follow through during and after the sale.  This of course leads to repeat sales to existing clients and referrals to new prospects.   Typically they have lists of the most common objections/conditions they strike with prospects along with the answers.  They also have prepared questions that help the prospect to uncover potential needs if they exist and they have strategies to advance the sale.

So we have two types of salespeople who achieve different results.  Each one follows a pattern, one unstructured and one structured.

Where do you see yourself?

Most systemisers have developed their skills through training and practice – there is
no such thing as a “natural born salespeople”.

Zig Ziglar – Author and Sales Trainer extraordinaire in his best selling book “Zig Ziglars Secrets” says he’s travelled the world and seen that women have given birth to boys and given birth to girls but had never seen that a woman had given birth to a salesman.  He goes on to state that he had seen salesmen die so draws the conclusion if they are not born but die, then obviously between birth and death – by choice and by training – they become what they decide to become, namely trained professional salesmen.

Key Message –   You can become whatever you decide to become as long as you are willing to put the time and effort into the training required and follow the disciplines learned.
Action Steps –

1. Make  list of all the problems that your solutions and products overcome for your prospects
2. Make a list of all the issues associated with each of these problems
3. Develop questions around each of these problems and issues that will help the buyer to focus their thinking
4. Once this list is developed put each of these questions in order of logical sequence

Quote:
Failure is nothing more than a few errors in judgment repeated every day
Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , ,

Are Great Salespeople Great Talkers?

I was guest speaker at a meeting a few weeks ago and a chap I was chatting to was telling me that after 18 years of having 3 women in the house now that his daughters had left he was having to learn how to talk again!

My thought was he must have been a very good listener which brings me to the subject of today’s article.

Sales is about listening to understand the buyer needs.

The old stereotype of great salespeople was that they were great talkers and had the “gift of the gab”.  In today’s sales environment studies of behavioral characteristics of the top salespeople consistently show these people listen “more constructively” than their average counterparts.

Constructive – Construction = building.  Listening constructively means to listen for things upon which to build your questions and solutions on.

Great salespeople ask great questions and actually listen for the information the prospect is giving and then use this information to build the next question.

This is the key to formulating the best solution for the prospect as it helps us to get a grip of the prospects core issues, needs and motivation.

Most average salespeople haven’t planned their questions and instead of planning their next question are in fact impatiently waiting to talk about their solution.

A study published by RainToday.com found that 74% of 200 purchasers surveyed at companies across America said they would be “much more likely” to buy from a salesperson if they would just simply listen to the buyer.

Next time you are out at a function be it at Chamber event or a party and you meet someone new, take note of who does most of the talking and more importantly your reaction to this person.

I believe we are more attracted to people who are genuinely more interested in us – it comes back to our basic human nature.

I think it was Mark Twain who said “A bore is someone who opens his mouth and puts his “feats” in it”

A good rule to follow is “be more interested than interesting”

The only person who can tell you their real need is the buyer.

We will look further at what makes an exceptional salesperson in my next article.

Quote of the Week:

“You can listen a buyer into a sale faster than you can talk them into one”

Unknown Author

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , , ,

Are There Natural Born Salespeople?

A question I am often asked is “Are there natural born salespeople that we should be looking for?”

My answer to this is there is no such thing as a natural born salesperson. There are salespeople with the “gift of the gab” who make good sales but they tend to lack consistency in their results.

Contrary to popular belief, the best salespeople aren’t the best talkers, they are the best listeners.

The best salespeople, the consistent high performers, are those who have been trained in the best sales practices and then supported through management.

A vast amount of “sales training” is focused on product or technical training rather than specific sales skills development.

This tends to produce product focused salespeople who use the classic show and tell sales presentation. Typically the presentation goes something like this –

The salesperson looks around the prospects office and finds some item of interest and begins a discussion on this, much to the annoyance of the prospect who has had the same discussion with a hundred other salespeople and hasn’t got time to waste with the usual so called rapport building techniques. They then ask a few self serving questions to uncover a potential need, then launch into a product/technical solution based presentation.

A study of over 500 buyers from the fortune 1000 companies showed that salespeople jump in with a

solution before the real problem has been uncovered. This happens in 63% of sales interviews.

Sales like any other business activity is a process and needs to be systemized to ensure consistency in the results.

Exceptional salespeople have a planned approach to selling not canned and follow a process.

McDonalds doesn’t hire staff and then challenge them to figure out how best to do the job. Instead they work on the basis there is a best way to take an order, greet a customer and put a burger together.

In sales there is a best practice too.

Like assembling a cheeseburger, sales has a process. Firstly to identify your prospects, next to get a referral to them, then establish trust, uncover their need, if they have one, present a solution, and ask for the business.

Selling is very simple but not easy!

Imagine sitting on a plane at HB Airport waiting to take off and the captain comes on and says – “this is my first flight in one of these really big planes – I’m going to try and figure out the best way to fly this thing”.

Many companies send their salespeople out into the field with great product training and very little if any sales training to “fly by the seat of their pants”.

It is a fact the greatest asset in our businesses is our staff.

It costs businesses just as much money in salary, travel and costs for a poor sales performer as it does for a great sales performer. Therefore we need to lift the performance of all our salespeople to ensure consistency in sales results. The way to achieve this is through using best sales practices and measurement for accountability.

A question I sometimes hear is “What happens if we train them and they leave?” I ask “What happens if we don’t train them and they stay?”

Coming back to what makes great salespeople, Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his famous book “Outliers” – “success in any field comes from opportunity and practice”.

Many companies give their salespeople the opportunity to undertake sales training – what makes the difference between good salespeople and the great is the great salespeople continue to learn and practice the skills they have learnt. They say “practice makes perfect” – this is only partly true – perfect practice makes perfect. Therefore sales come down to using best practices.

The first of these is developing a goals programme around what your sales targets are, the obstacles of achieving these, the solutions to overcome these obstacles, a detailed plan of sales activities mapped out over the next 12 months.

We can’t control sales – we can control sales activities.

We will look at this in my next article.

Action Steps –

1. Review your sales targets

2. Break down into monthly and weekly targets

3. Review your Prospecting Plan

4. List 3 actions you could implement this week to move forward e.g. Ask your key clients for specific referrals

Quote –
“Until we learn the formula (process) for success we can’t repeat it”
Brian Tracey

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , , , , ,

Every Sale has 5 Basic Obstacles – Do you know what they are?

We not only want you to know what they are – but also how to overcome them!

We’ve worked together with Brett to publish our first in what we plan will be a series of sales technique and strategy resources.

The first, entitled “Every Sale has 5 Basic Obstalces – Learn What They Are And How To Overcome Them”, is available now to download from http://5salesobstacles.com/

You’ll have the option to download it immediately and even download the first chapter for free.

Filed under: Company News, Sales Techniques and Strategy

What Is Your Prospecting Plan?

We talked about “Farmers” and “Hunters” last time and how many salespeople fall into the comfortable role of farming their existing clients rather than bringing on new business.

This occurs largely due to a lack of a clear step by step plan on how to go about prospecting. Many salespeople make the excuse they are so busy servicing existing clients they don’t have time to prospect for new ones.

A recent study of over 500 companies in the UK would tend to support this argument. They weighed the influence of 73 different factors in successful selling.

What would you expect the number one cause of low achievement in sales to be?

  • Low motivation?
  • Personality Problems?
  • Inferior products or service?
  • Poor training?
  • Overpricing?

Wrong.

This survey pinpointed the number one cause of low achievement in sales as poor time utilization due to lack of planning.

This considered it comes back to us as the salespeople to plan our time to maximize our face to face time with prospects and clients.

A client I worked with recently in professional services was able to delegate 11 hours of low value work he had got into the habit of doing. This effectively gave him another 7 appointment slots in his week which could be used for –

  1. First appointments with new prospects
  2. Follow up appointments
  3. Existing client appointments
  4. Centre of influence meetings

All key components of a prospecting plan.

Another constraint that can impact on prospecting is the sales manager or business owner overloading the salesperson with other duties.

What we need to think about is in the wide range of activities we do in our business – manufacturing, accounting, HR, risk management, sales, research and development, quality control etc. Out of all of these only one – sales activities – brings in the money.

There is an old saying – “Without the sale no-one gets paid”

Another one for us to think about is – “Unless you are talking to a prospect or a customer you are unemployed”

So back to our prospecting plan – our first step is to have a clear picture of the type of prospects you wish to target, for without this you will waste precious time hunting the wrong game.

In our training we develop a prospect profile which describes in generic terms what a good prospect for our business would look like. This helps us to clarify which type of clients we wish to target and helps our centres of influence to better understand who they should be referring to us.

We will look at the next step in my next article.

Quote of the Day: Clean out your prospect funnel. Put your current prospects through a sieve. The biggest mistake salespeople make is they call on the same useless prospects over and over. If you have not been able to get anywhere with a specific group of prospects, move on and find new prospects. Being persistent is good. However, if you are spending too much time on fruitless leads you will just burn out. After a shepherd’s herd has eaten all the grass in a specific pasture he knows its time to move on to a new pasture. If he does not move on his sheep will starve. Move on if you are not getting anywhere with old prospects and come back at a later date. Larry Duca

Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, ,

About

Simple Sales Tracking is web-based sales CRM software for the tracking, analysis and forecasting of individual and team sales pipeline and contacts.

Built with simplicity at its core, focus is kept on key sales tasks, while eliminating unnecessary ones, helping to ensure buy-in of the entire sales team.
Go to SimpleSalesTracking.com

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