Simple Sales Tracking Blog

How to get through the winter slump

Winter is pretty tough; it can be cold and bleak. Unfortunately, for a lot of businesses winter correlates with a slump in trade. Often we accept this as part in parcel of being a business owner and as a result fail to plan for this time of year.

A wise person once said the best thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise and is not preceded by periods of worry and depression (or something like that).

But it doesn’t have to be this way! By planning ahead and getting our sales funnel in order we can stay on top of things so we are prepared for winter and with that ready for the prosperous spring and summer that follows.

Here are some ideas for getting ahead of the winter slump.

– Always be prospecting

We say prospecting is a 24/7 activity, always be looking for your next client. This may be as simple as noting down business names when driving through your local industrial area, reading the local paper and sharing your suspect list with colleagues. Take note of what is going on in the business community, who else can you add value to?

– Target specific businesses

Many of us attend networking and referral groups, but more often than not attendees stand up each week with the same spiel – “Hi I’m so and so from so and so business, we specialise in this and that if you know anyone who is interested, please get them to give me a call”. The problem with this is it’s a rare occasion when someone actually says to a colleague, “Hey I’m looking for something, do you know anyone who does that?” It’s an even rarer occasion that this occurs when you are actually looking for the referral. So instead, at your next event, target referrals and businesses you would love to work with and ask for them by name. See what happens.

– Use winter as a time to reskill your sales team

Sometimes no matter how much we prepare; there will still be quiet spells. Use this time to upskill your sales team; look at their KPIs, their weekly sales activities and their sales funnel. When you are a growing business, you must constantly review your salespeople, their sales process may be working for them but is it working to grow your business?

– Review your current clients.

They say it now costs ten times as much to bring on a new client as it does to maintain an existing client. So for every dollar you spend on retention of existing clients you will need to spend $10 to gain a new client. Now is a good time to review your current clients who haven’t bought off you in the last six months. Consider how you can add more value to their business. You may have a range of products; your client is buying products A and D from you but who is providing B and C? Your clients already know and trust you; it is your responsibility as a provider to make sure you are fulfilling all their requirements.

I hope these ideas help, if you implement just one it could be the influencing factor that makes the rest of this winter and the next more profitable and less stressful. Stay warm everyone!

Article written by Hayden Burgess – Sales Trainer – Sales Impact Group

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, , , ,

Are You Dressed to Sell?

It probably isn’t fair but you seldom get a second chance to make a great first impression. What we wear and how we present ourselves not only colours our attitude towards ourselves but also influences others perception of us. John T Molloy, author of Dress for Success says in almost all situations, one’s appearance makes a statement, either “I am important, please show me some respect, or I am not your equal and do not expect to be treated as such”.
There was once a school of thought that suggested salespeople needed to dress down to the level of their client or prospect, whether this is gumboots and a swandri on the farm or shirt and jeans at a creative firm. However studies have shown that we should be dressing to the level of our prospect’s advisors. The psychology behind this is that it is easier to take advice and act on recommendations from someone who looks professional and dresses like an executive than someone who doesn’t.
When you are meeting with a prospect, consider that they are buying you first, then your product/service and finally your company. In this sense you should dress in a way that takes nothing away from the message or value your company brings. If you are selling a $5000 product or service, dress like you deserve to.
Of course it is important to consider different industries dress codes i.e. a banker would have a different standard of dress than a graphic designer, but in general those in professional services should try to adhere to the unwritten rules of business attire. The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that our clothes are associated with meaning, and in turn put us in different mindsets. In this sense we associate a suit and tie or formal business wear with professionalism and hard work.

For salespeople, a tie says a lot. In my previous life in customer service, it always occurred to me when I met someone in a suit and tie that they must be important. This was my impression as someone from outside the business world, and it illustrates just how subtly the way you dress conveys a message. As salespeople we never know who we will meet on a day to day basis making sales calls, so it is vital that we always look our best.
Along with a suit and tie, good grooming is integral. It shows attention to detail and conveys professionalism, we take pride in all aspects of our appearance and it shows. A series of studies published in the Evolution and Human Behavior Journal in 2013 found that people change their behavior to match their dress. When you are well groomed and well-dressed you have subconsciously stepped into your professional persona and are ready to make that sale.
Dress in a way that says to the prospect that you respect them and have made an added effort in your personal presentation for them. Their business matters.
Action Steps
– Dress to a level one above your prospect/client – dress like their advisor
– Always be well groomed – the small details matter
– When appropriate wear a tie, it says a lot

Hayden Burgess

Hayden Burgess  is a Programme Developer and Facilitator for Sales Impact Group.

Filed under: Sales Techniques and Strategy, ,

Monthly Sales Toolbox – Top Sales Tips

Here are my top tips for making the most of every sales interview and getting the most out of your referrals.

Never bag the opposition – This goes without saying but we can all fall into the trap of bagging the opposition, but be aware, sometimes this can be a test from the client of your professionalism. If the client comments negatively about the opposition, it is better to apologise for them, “I’m sorry to hear that”, if they make positive comments then agree with them “that’s good to hear, I have heard good things about that company”. This will show that you are a professional and your reputation will grow as a result.

Share the business – The best way to succeed in your business is to help someone else to succeed in theirs. So work with your colleagues from other non-competitive businesses with whom you share clients with to provide market intelligence, and referrals if possible. Grow your networks and align yourself with business people you respect and like. In a small business community it is to everyone’s benefit to work together to help each other achieve more.

Be genuine – find the need – When you walk into a sales interview, remember that your aim is not to make the sale, but to find the need. You need to assess whether the prospect has a need for the product or service you offer. The only party that can close the sale is the buyer, remember too that you are adding value to their business so don’t feel like you are begging for the work, stand by your product and if the need is there it will sell itself.

Be timely – This goes without saying but always be early for your appointments, no more than ten minutes, or else you may make the prospect feel uncomfortable to leave you waiting. The prospect’s time is valuable as is your own, and if you are looking for an ongoing relationship with the prospect, get off on the right foot by being prompt. The same goes for email correspondence, if you can reply to emails the same day you receive them, your clients and prospects will respect your punctuality.

Respect the local market – Most businesses grow to a certain size and start to look outside their backyard for bigger jobs and prospects however it is important not to overlook smaller accounts. Too often in business we rely on a large account to carry us through the financial year but when these accounts fall through or move on as they are prone to do, it is often the smaller jobs that keep us on an even keel.

Hayden Burgess

Hayden Burgess  is a Programme Developer and Facilitator for Sales Impact Group.

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

Where Do The Dollars Come From?

When considering this question many of us think of activities such as marketing and advertising, operations, lead management – the list goes on.

The fact is that only one activity brings money into any business and that is sales, unless of course you are a non-profit organization.

There is an old saying “Nobody gets paid until a sale is made”

You can have the best products in the world but unless someone is actively selling these you will go out of business.

If we can agree that sales are one of the most important activities in our business then the next question to consider is “are our salespeople making the most of the opportunities that are out there?”

Sadly the answer to this question in the majority of cases is “No”.

Here is some data from a study conducted with the Fortune 500 companies in the States, which found –

98% of salespeople do not have a consistent methodology for their presentation
95% talk too much
93% volunteer a price decrease without being asked
86% ask the wrong questions
87% of sales inquiries are never followed up – not even once
90% depend almost totally on leads from marketing efforts

What this information points to is a lack of sales skills training for the sales teams.

According to ASTD research conducted in 2008 – 48% of salespeople learn selling through trial and error. How many prospects do these people waste while learning?

Many of the people I train have been in sales for years and have basically learnt through this method.

The most common issue I see with the trial and error training methodology is a lack of confidence in the salespeople.

The next most common group I come across are the salespeople that did a sales course ten or so years ago and are still using the old style selling techniques.

Sales like any other business activity should be systemised.

When selling becomes a process your salespeople will become more confident, your sales closing ratio will increase and your cost of sales will decrease.

The cost of making a face to face sales call can range from $90 – $500 depending on the location and time.

What many of us fail to take into account when working out these costs are the hidden cost such as technical support, administration support, on-going training – the list goes on.

Using $150/hour as an example let’s look at what goes into making a sale

Preparation and getting the appointment 1 hour
Face to Face presentation (including travel) 2 hours
Preparing Proposal 2 hours
Follow-up appointment to present/discuss proposal 1.5 hours
Miscellaneous – phoning, research etc 1.5 hours
Total 8 Hours

The equation is 8 hours x 150 = $1200

This is assuming that you make the sale however there are very few companies in the world who have a 100% closing ratio. Most companies average 35%. This relates to proactive selling (you approach the prospect) as opposed to reactive selling (the prospects approach you)

We will look further at developing sales teams in the next article.

Quote of the Week:

From Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company, who once was asked by a wholesaler why he invested so much in training his people, when ultimately they might leave.

His reply –

“What if I didn’t train them, and they stayed?”

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

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

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, , , , , ,

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 you a Rocket Scientist or a Salesperson?

Recently I attended a business function where one of my clients introduced me to a business consultant.  Upon hearing I was a sales trainer the consultant related how he had watched a couple of dvds on sales training over the Christmas break and decided that perhaps he could add sales training to his portfolio after all as he said “its not rocket science”!

I was most disappointed to hear this as I have been waiting for the call from NASA for some time!!! 

But in fairness I have to agree that selling isn’t rocket science, it is very basic.

I always say –    “selling is simple – but not easy”

Sales in a nutshell comes down to –

Identifying your Prospect

Gaining an Introduction

Uncovering a Need
(If they have one)

Showing the Return on Investment

Asking for the Business

Delivering the Service

Follow Up and Support

Regular Contact

So if you want to launch your sales to new heights in 2011 you will need to jettison some of your unproductive practices that do not directly contribute to one of these areas.

We know that most salespeople on average only spend 90 minutes per day in face to face meetings – the rest of the time is spent gliding through the myriad of other jobs that they are tasked with.

A breakdown of where a typical sales rep spends their time would be –

Sales administration:  16%.  This includes any administrative work directly related to a sale such as entering information, writing reports, filling out order forms, pricing up jobs, quoting and writing proposals.

One way to lessen sales administrative time is to put an expert network in place.  Sales reps spend a lot of time tracking down answers to customer questions – finding the right person to answer the question,
sending emails, exchanging voice mails and so on.  Consider delegating the most time consuming tasks such as pricing and proposal writing.

Sales preparation:  16%.  This includes all the time spent preparing for a call, including research, preparing a meeting agenda, putting together a presentation and so on.

Waiting: 11%.  This includes time spent waiting for a customer, whether in the customer’s reception, on the phone, or in the customer’s office while he or she attends to another matter.

Travel and travel-related waiting:  21%    This category is just what it sounds like – the time reps spend in a car, on a plane, sitting in traffic or sitting at the airport.  To decrease the amount of time reps spend travelling or waiting to travel, look at how you might use telemarketers to interact with customers.  Face–to-face contact is great, but save it for when it adds the most value.   Territory planning can have a huge effect on reducing travel time.

Other administrative tasks:  10% – This is a catchall bucket for time-spent doing everything not included in the other categories. It includes everything from filing expense reports and time sheets to getting a cup of coffee.

Selling:  25%.  If you can decrease the time your reps spend doing other things, they theoretically should have more time to spend selling.  So put systems to work for you and watch this percentage grow.

How do these figures compare to our sales week?

If we are to propel our sales into lunar orbit then we need to delegate any task that is not related to business growth.

The beauty about selling is the sky is the limit when it comes to business growth.

So to help your sales to soar this year, spend more time face to face with great referred prospects – after all, it’s not “Rocket Science”!!!

Action Steps:

1. Identify all tasks that take up more than 30 minutes per week
2. Plan to either eliminate, delegate or outsource within a month
3. Block times for face to face meetings in your weekly planner
Quote:
                                                             Sales isn’t rocket science
                                                                                        Unknown Consultant

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

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

How Much Actual Selling Time Do You Have?

A challenge I hear from many salespeople and business owners alike is that there is never enough time to keep in touch with all their clients and prospects.   This in turn leads to many lost opportunities and indeed lost clients.

There are just two areas salespeople and business owners need to focus their time on as far as sales are concerned.

The first we will look at is retention of existing clients.   Our existing clients offer the best opportunity for future growth for a couple of very good reasons.

Firstly we have already earned their trust as an advisor/supplier and are therefore most likely to be offered the first opportunity of further work and secondly in many cases we are only getting a percentage of their work.

Some studies have shown that most of what we might consider to be “A” type clients are only in fact giving us slightly more than 50% of their potential business. 

Secondly, and this may come as a surprise to many salespeople, the key reason for this is a lack of account strategies and planning, particularly in smaller businesses who seem to believe if we look after the client we will automatically get all their business.

So to maximize sales to our existing clients we need to develop an account strategy.

The first step in this process is to identify the services and products they are already buying from us then work out what other needs we can fulfill for them and build these into our call objectives.

Another step is to work out a call cycle. This will depend largely on what type of client you are dealing with.  A trap for many of us is to categorize by turnover.  It is therefore very important to look at a number areas when categorizing accounts, such as gross profit margin, lifetime value, wallet share, potential growth and so on.

All accounts, including those of prospects and customers, should be categorized to keep their call frequency as productive as possible. You must decide which accounts are most important to your company.  Categorizing helps determine this.  For every prospect or customer, there is a call frequency that will give you maximum return per call.

It is based on the belief that a greater portion of time should be spent on prospects or customers who offer larger volume potential.   Less time should be spent on lower volume prospects or customers.

You will categorize your prospects or customers as A, B, and C accounts.  A are major accounts; statistically they number about 15 percent of your accounts and give you 65 percent of your volume.  The following 20 percent of your accounts are B, or minor accounts.   They give you 20 percent of your total sales.  Of the remaining prospects or customers, 65 percent are C, or marginal accounts.   They give you 15 percent of your total sales.  These percentages apply in most industries and are an excellent rule of thumb for determining account classification and setting sales-call frequency.

In most businesses, this simple analysis is rather startling.  You will probably find that a small number of accounts produce the majority of your sales dollars, whereas a majority of your prospects or customers provide you with a small percentage of your sales.  The classic statement that “80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers” is refined somewhat in the three account classification – A.B.C.

A good exercise would be to go through your database of clients and categorise them as

A, B or C.  By understanding this you can then manage your time more effectively and look after the 20% of your clients who are indeed giving you 80% of your income and more importantly retain these very valuable clients through regular call cycles.

I will look at the second key area which is growth in my next article.

Quote of the Week:
“Sales is a contact sport”
Brett Burgess

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

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

Scared to Close the Sale?

In my last ramblings we looked at overcoming the “no hurry/no desire to change from the current supplier or serviced provider” obstacle.

Today we will look at the key reasons salespeople don’t ask for the business.

In fact surveys conducted with the fortune 500 in the States showed that 62% of presentations finish without the salesperson actually asking for the business!

The number one reason people I train state for this is fear of rejection and embarrassment.  This fear comes as a result of lack of sales processes which would naturally lead to asking for the business.

The first part of the sales process then is getting a referral to the prospect by a trusted advisor and just as important is the way the advisor positions you with their client.
One of the tools we develop for our clients is a positioning statement.  This is a tool you give to your referrer so that they position you in the best possible way.

Having been positioned well the next step towards closing is doing your homework on the prospect.  Your referrer will often help here as they are working in the best interests of their clients in helping you.

We have been positioned well with the prospect, we are well prepared with background information including possible issues we may have solutions for, we have our appointment, –  the next step is to establish trust.

We hardly ever buy from people we don’t trust and of course if our prospect doesn’t trust us then they may not give us all the information we need to taylor the very best solution for their need or may in fact deny they have a need.

Some key ways to build trust are –
• Being early or on time
• Coming prepared
• Dressing appropriately
• Having the very best sales aids – pens, folders, business cards (not a good look when salespeople hand you their “dog-eared” business card!)
• Asking good questions  (nothing upsets buyers more than poorly prepared salespeople with self-serving questions)

Now we have established trust with our prospect the next step is to uncover the need and help the buyer to recognize whether the need justifies our solution.

It has been found that 64.3% of salespeople start presenting their solution before the buyer recognizes the desire for a solution.  This results in buyer objections which opens
a whole new minefield to manoeuvre through.

We will look into this further in my next article.

This Weeks Action Step –
Make a list of all the closing phrases you currently use in asking for the business.

Quote of the Week –
If you don’t close the sale you are working for the opposition
 
Brett Burgess is a Sales Trainer and Programme Developer for Sales Impact Group.

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

Overcoming the key obstacles to make the sale

We have been looking at the key obstacles in the buyer’s mind which we need to answer before we can progress the sale.

The first of these was the different needs of buyers depending on their roles within the business.

We identified 3 potential buyer levels –

  1. Middle Management level
  2. Senior Management
  3. Chief Executive Officers and Managing Directors

Then we looked at lack of funding where we discovered we need to clearly identify all the associated costs related to their current need.  Business owners make buying decisions based primarily on the expected return on investment.  If you can’t show a clear cost saving then there is no reason to change.

It is a fact that 99% of new prospects you visit already have a provider providing the same services/products you do.  Therefore they are only focused on two things in talking to you – the cheapest price or at least a price check on the current provider or improved value over what they are already receiving.

Our sole goal is focused on adding value. This can only be achieved if we can uncover their needs through good questions.

The opportunity for us to add value with these prospects lies in the following areas –

  1. Helping them to uncover an unrecognized need
  2. Helping them to uncover new opportunities
  3. Finding new solutions for old problems

To achieve this requires good preparation which unfortunately most salespeople tend to skip as they argue they are far too busy.  These types of salespeople are generally referred to as “professional conversationalists” i.e. they get paid to go around and talk to people but not actually to make sales.

Back to the subject of today  – No Hurry/No Desire to change from the status quo.

If we can uncover a big enough need through this process and combine the return on investment calculation that we looked at last time then this should create the desire and more importantly help the buyer to come to the buying decision.

We will look at the last of the obstacles in my next article.

Quote of the Week:

Opportunity dances with those who are ready on the dance floor

                                                                                H. Jackson Brown Jr

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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