Your sales force has a major impact on the success of your advertising
Every business spends time and money on marketing promotions and advertising, even if it is only signage or business cards. The objective is to make customers and potential customers aware of your company and its products and services. Most advertising also has the objective of inviting prospective buyers to approach
your company and either enquire or buy items. When the advertising succeeds and a customer engages with one of your salespeople, you should get value for your money spent on advertising by making a sale – but it does not always work out that way.
Prospective customers may not buy if the salespeople ignore them, if the product is not in stock, or not at the price advertised. Sometimes making the sale will depend on the salespersons product knowledge or their ability to really to a customer’s requirements. Are they able to match specific products to address customer needs or are they restricted to reciting (or reading) specifications and prices?
A lost sale
Some time ago I looked for a new device to heat a room in my home. There were many types of heaters and airconditioners to choose from. I had seen an advert for a type of heater that seemed to satisfy my needs and I had been attracted to the special price, so I visited the store. There was a display of the heaters on promotion near the entrance to the appliance store, with several neatly uniformed salespeople poised. Continue reading
A large organisation with a substantial sales force will inevitably
have some stars, some losers and some ordinary middle of the road salespeople
in their sales team. Hopefully the stars make up for the poor performers and the
overall target is achieved. A small or medium business with one, or at best a
few salespeople does not have the same advantage – sales winners are scarce and
frequently poached, sales losers and very ordinary salespeople are much more
common, so the small business are less likely to meet targets.
Finding and keeping the right salespeople has always been a
challenge, and is even more difficult when the economic conditions reduce
business opportunities. In boom times even mediocre salespeople will appear to
be much better, but when business is tight good salespeople are needed – but
where to find such diamonds? And having found them how do you keep them
motivated and loyal?
Most small businesses start with the entrepreneur being the
salesperson – as he or she is also the production chief, financial manager and
everything else. Although they will often say they are useless at selling the
opposite is often the case – business owners are often very good at selling.
They have drive, passion, very deep product knowledge, commitment to delivery,
the ability to address customer needs, good negotiation skills, determination
to make sales and a high work ethic. This is a great list of attributes for an
ideal salesperson. By comparison the qualities of smooth talk, slick closing
techniques, good presentation skills and all the other skills popularly called
‘the gift of the gab’ are insignificant. But at some stage the demands of
running the business prohibit the entrepreneur from getting to see customers as
often as before. The business then decides to find a salesperson or two – and that proves more difficult than expected. Continue reading
Working smarter to plan increased turnover without needing new business
Most businesses would like to increase their turnover, but often struggle to do so. One reason is businesses simply set a growth target with no focus on where that growth should come from, or why people would buy more from the company. Increasing turnover means more sales to existing customers, more new customers or higher prices, and for now I will focus on growing existing customers.
Selling more by being a great supplier
Before you even start to think about selling more to customers you have to examine if you really understand your customer’s goals, plans, needs and likes, and if the communication channels are open at the right levels. If you are dealing only with a junior buyer who gripes continually about your quality, prices and service don’t expect any of the stuff below to work. Start again and build a relationship of understanding their culture, needs and systems. Then deliver what meets those requirements. Get the communication channels working effectively at the right levels and address their concerns promptly. Then you can think about growing your business with them.