Simple Sales Tracking Blog

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, , , ,

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, , , , , ,

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, , , , , ,

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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.
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