Small business owners are simply the biggest multi-taskers you will ever find. Taking responsibility for a number of roles within their business in its early stages, keeping abreast of the many tasks required to manage, grow and develop it towards success, it’s not always easy. For those who consider themselves a little more introverted, not all roles come naturally and they may find themselves reluctant at the idea of stepping in to the shoes of the ‘Sales Executive’. Thankfully, the days of pushy salesmen are long gone and there are several ways even the least likely sales professional can carve out a place for his or her company in the marketplace.
Invest in lead generation resources – Create a sales strategy for filling your sales pipeline and identify as many ways to fill it as possible. Start with making sure your data is fresh and complete. Email campaigns are a great way to engage in regular communication with prospects and measure their interaction. Perhaps cold-calling isn’t your strong suit, however it is one of the most effective ways to develop that sales pipeline. You could undertake some telemarketing training to give you the skills and confidence needed to make the leap or, why not outsource this area of work to an outside provider?
Make the most of online contacts – Establish contacts across a number of online platforms to introduce your business. From LinkedIn to business forums, Facebook and Twitter, many of these social media sites host online networking at specific times, targeting business sectors and locations that are filled with the kind of connections you are looking to develop.
Experience a more relaxed kind of meeting – If face-to-face meetings leave you feeling anxious why not utilise opportunities to meet with other businesses in a more relaxed environment? Research local networking events and visit to make the most of the chance to introduce yourself and talk about what you’re doing. You’ll be surprised at how many other multi-taskers you will get to know. Also, why not visit at local and regional business shows? As a visitor, not only will you have the opportunity walk the floor and speak to a number of exhibitors, you will also have the opportunity to attend seminars where you can pick up valuable advice for developing your business further.
Commit to social corporate responsibility – Align yourself with at least one charity, fundraiser or community project that means something to you. Not all help has to be financial, donating time and promotional support to a meaningful cause will positively impact upon both parties and is a great way to raise your profile.
Build a strategy for the tasks you simply hate – Whatever your least favourite task is, create a plan to force you to tackle it head on, step-by-step. They key is consistency so make sure to engage in these things regularly and they will soon become less intimidating. For instance, if it’s cold-calling, start with a 30 minute session in the morning and then another in the afternoon. Reward yourself for taking on the tough challenges and succeeding.
Estadia has worked closely with business owners to help them develop strategies for business growth and development for over ten years. If you’re a business owner stretching themselves to cover a number of roles, their FREE one-hour sales strategy session could be the way to kick-start a plan to make managing your time and operations much easier. Call the Estadia on freephone 0800 840 1185 to enquire today or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just as a construction worker builds structures a salesperson builds business growth. Both professionals require essential tools to perform at the highest level, but it’s not always the most obvious thing, to think of a salesperson needing ‘tools’ for the job. Perhaps a better way to consider it, is as a ‘pool of resources’. Either way, if you want to be successful in sales, make the most of these valuable sales tools:
The Telephone – Surely the most obvious tool in the box but unsurprisingly, many salespeople give cold calling a wide berth. The truth is, it’s still an effective way to get new business, so brush up on your telemarketing skills and establish a strategy for connecting with new prospects over the phone. Remember, closing the sale on the first call is unlikely, it’s really about introducing yourself, finding out about their business and beginning a relationship.
A Strategy for Building a Pipeline – The only way to evaluate sales success is to start with a strategy for doing business. Erratic bursts of sales activity, with no true path or focus will only lead to frustration. Implement a strategy that allows you to continually top up your sales pipeline, giving you plenty of potential to work with.
Planning and Research – If your prospect feels you understand their position, they will be far more likely to do business with you. Going out of the way to find out more about target prospects, industries and competition will arm you with the information you need to present your product or service as the solution they are looking for.
Social Media – But that’s for the marketing department! Yes, but sales and marketing have to work together. Support your business’ social media posts by sharing helpful, relevant posts that will connect with your customers and prospects. Also, be sure to interact with the social media posts of those you want to do business with to establish positive connections.
Education – Just as measurement of sales activity is vital to hitting and exceeding targets, measurement of your own professional development is required to ensure you’re performing at your best. Training and development plans for sales people at all levels enable access to new skills and opportunities to prevent established sales techniques from becoming tired and ineffective.
A listening attitude – Listening is learning. When you’re listening to your colleagues you’re learning about their experiences and using that to develop your own skills. When you’re listening to your prospect you’re gaining insight into their place in the market and their unique business needs. Make a point of listening to understand by asking questions, because when you simply listen to respond you turn the focus of the conversation away from the valuable things that you can learn from.
A good contact network – Go out of your way to make connections with professionals across a variety of businesses. LinkedIn and networking events are perfect for this. Establishing yourself as someone able to refer businesses to one another, outside of your own business interests, encourages positive, trusted relationships with both prospects and existing customers.
Have you ever met the perfect salesperson? With only about one third of sales professionals hitting or exceeding targets they’re not always easy to find. So what’s stopping the rest from performing? Sadly it’s often the smallest mistakes that have the greatest effect. Think you’ve got what it takes to be a Sales Angel? Take a look at our seven deadly sales sins to see where you could make the small changes needed to redeem yourself…
Not following up – If sales is all about building relationships then surely it goes without saying that failure to follow up on any kind of communication is essential to keeping the conversation going. It’s really no different to social relationships. If that person you just met suddenly stopped communicating with you, you’d just figure they weren’t interested any longer and that would be the end of that. Relationships are built upon a series of consistent and positive interactions, so be sure to stay in touch.
Talking more than listening – If you want your prospect to feel you truly care about their needs, you have to take the time to listen. This is where active listening skills really come into play. If you’re the one doing all the talking, your prospect may start to feel pressured into buying. If they also think you have little understanding of their position, they’re going to be immediately turned off and you may find yourself with more than a few objections to deal with.
Asking closed questions – Information is the key to closing a sale. How do you present your product or service as a solution to the prospect’s problem? Be sure to ask open questions, that elicit longer, more detailed answers. By learning as much as you can about their current situation and demonstrating how it will fit seamlessly into their operations, delivering exactly the kind of solution they want.
Listening to respond, rather than listening to understand – If you’re listening to what your prospect is saying but thinking about your response, then you’re just making the conversation all about what you have to say. ‘Listening to understand’ is a much more beneficial method of communication, focusing on what the customer is saying and usually trying to understand it more fully by asking another question.
Attempting to sell everything, not just what the customer needs – Even if you have listened carefully and have an understanding of your prospect’s needs, rushing to sell everything possible will demonstrate a failure to connect with them and likely break the trust you’ve tried to build. Carefully matching their needs to the strongest parts of your product or service will make them feel like they are buying in to a tailor-made solution.
Selling features, not benefits or effects – Your prospect is seeking the end result, so match your focus to theirs. Help them see the solution your product or service will provide by explaining how they will benefit. Features are great but your prospect will have little interest in learning about them if they’re not first assured of the resolution they will bring.
Failing to ask for the business – If you don’t learn to become attuned to the progression of your prospect conversation, it’s guaranteed that you will miss out on opportunities to ask for the business and close the sale. It’s a classic mistake, made by those who don’t want to seen as the ‘pushy salesperson’. But it’s not about being pushy, it’s about employing the right kinds of questioning and listening skills to build rapport and with these, you will be able to identify those opportunities and make the most of them.
Estadia’s Managing Director Richard recently asked his LinkedIn network what they considered to be selling ‘sins’. Take a look at what they had to say here.
Is Business-To-Business Telemarketing Still Relevant?
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in a sales career for 15 years or 15 minutes, all salespeople want to be successful salespeople. No matter where you are in your career, it is important to take the time to assess your skills and consider: “Where can I grow more?”. Estadia’s sales experts are always looking at what it is that makes a salesperson successful, identifying the core skills they possess. Take a look at our list and see how many you have…
To open a full and informative dialogue between you and your prospect you will need to know the right kinds of questions to ask. Closed questions very often receive very short, factual answers. To be a successful salesperson you need more than just the facts. You need to know how your prospect feels about the challenges they face. When you know how to use open questions, that elicit longer, more detailed answers, you are best placed to present your product or service as the solution they are looking for.
An active listener is fully participated in the conversation, deliberately taking in information and being sure to make it clear that they comprehend the nature of what is being conveyed. This enables you to understand, not just to respond to your prospect. Every interaction with your prospect should result in them feeling valued and understood, this will build trust and give them confidence to buy from you.
Understanding that customers buy benefits, not features
“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”
Theodore Levitt, Harvard University Professor.
Your prospect isn’t really looking for your product, they’re looking for the result your product will bring. Not only do you need to know every aspect of your product or service, you also need to know how it will impact and improve their situation,
Presenting your product to demonstrate those benefits
Knowing how your product or service will deliver the solution your prospect is looking for, is key to confidently presenting it in the most relevant way. Having the communication and presentation skills to paint a positive picture for the future will direct to them working with you.
Successful salespeople are aware that how they handle objections can be make or break when trying to close the sale. Applying listening skills and demonstrating your understanding to the prospect lets them know that you recognise their needs. Being able to overcome their concerns and present solutions will develop the right kind of trusted business relationship that stands the test of time.
Closing – Asking for the business
Sometimes there will be clearly defined moments in the sales process where asking for the order is appropriate and often successful. Having the skills to be able to identify these opportunities and having the confidence to act upon them can bring success.
Estadia’s Essential Sales Skills course explores each of these areas, giving you the knowledge, confidence and ability to deliver across them all. Whether learning for the first time or simply refreshing and enhancing the skills you already have, this one day course is the perfect place to start a learning and development journey. Learn more about the course content and find dates and locations suitable for you here.
Without proper measures in place, it’s not difficult to lose sight of how your sales team is performing. The effects of this can be damaging, reaching across different areas of your business. In this week’s blog we look at just some of the problems a struggling Sales Leader might encounter in this situation:
Inconsistent Activity – Whether you have small sales team to manage or a large one, it is vital to have a clear overview of operations. A sales strategy that includes planned activity to monitor and assess progress is the only way that you can be sure each member of your sales team is operating at their best, maximising every opportunity to create and secure new business.
Lack of Knowledge – Only by knowing the behaviours and activity of each salesperson will you have clear knowledge about what makes each individual a valued member of your sales team. This knowledge will also identify those who are not performing, and this is important due to its direct negative impact on the performance of the team overall. Personal learning and development plans for each member of your team are key to understanding their needs and finding ways to bring out the best in them.
Stress and Anxiety – Worrying about hitting targets is bad enough but if you don’t have a clear picture of what your team is achieving and exactly how they are operating, the stress can be overwhelming. The key to overcoming this kind of worry is knowledge. If you are in control of your team’s activity you can begin to take positive steps towards hitting and exceeding targets.
Disillusioned Team Members – In addition to the stress you might feel as a Sales Leader, if you’re not taking control, individuals within the team will undoubtedly begin to feel disheartened with their experience. Particularly in situations where individuals are working alone in different geographical locations. These feelings will produce negativity which will have a knock-on effect on targets, employee turnover and even customer relationships.
Unhappy Customers – Your customers need to have every confidence in your ability to deliver your product or service to the highest standard. They will have high expectations when it comes to how well you look after them and how consistently you perform. Without control of your sales team, how can you be certain that customers won’t start looking for an alternative supplier?
Sales Leadership is one of the most crucial roles in any growing company and the responsibility of managing a sales team is a serious business. Estadia’s Sales Experts have the knowledge and experience to help you develop sales leadership skills that build you a winning sales team, either at your workplace or in one of our open courses, across the UK. Our Effective Sales Management course will help you take back control of your sales team and avoid problems just like these.
Call us on 08451 222963 to speak to one of our agents today or visit the Estadia Sales Training page.
So much work goes in to the sales process and getting to the point where your prospect has agreed to meet with you face-to-face can take a great deal of time and determination. Successful Salespeople maximise every opportunity to build on the relationship they’ve already created when they present their product or service in person. The only way to do get that right is to ensure they are properly prepared.
We’ve explored the theme of preparation many times in our past blogs because it is continuous part of the entire sales process. Whether it’s preparing for a successful telesales session or delivering your pitch, having a strategy in place will always yield greater success than ‘winging it’. It sound’s obvious, doesn’t it? But many Salespeople fail to prepare adequately and as the saying goes;
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”
– Benjamin Franklin
So how exactly do you prepare for that appointment? Estadia’s Sales Experts recommend you apply the following checklist every time.
Prepare your Knowledge – Much like you would for a job interview, make time to learn as much about the company as possible. Who is their customer? Who are their competitors? What challenges do they face? Don’t forget to research the people or department you are meeting with too.
Prepare your Materials – What should you be taking with you for this meeting? This needs to go beyond just business cards and branded pens. Try to anticipate the kinds of questions you may be asked and think about the kinds of company literature or reports you could leave behind. You may not close at the first meeting so give them something positive, that demonstrates the effectiveness of your product or service, to chew over.
Prepare your Mindset – A positive attitude will go a long way to helping you present your best self during the appointment. Prospects will warm to someone who is pleasant and polite, engaging and interested in their business. Consider the things you can do to boost your own positivity along the way, the night before, the morning of, even in the minutes before you walk through the door.
Prepare your Goals – Setting the right kind of expectation before your appointment will enable you to confidently measure its success. Firstly, think about your goals for both the meeting and for future interaction with the prospect. Secondly, align your goals with theirs. When you determine to achieve their goal alongside them, the confidence you have in your product or service will naturally help create the pathway to their success.
Prepare your Prospect – Successful Salespeople always send their prospect an agenda. Not so much a standard bullet pointed list but an informal set of instructions to prepare both them and you ahead of time. After all, you may want them to bring specific documents or invite colleagues who may also benefit from learning more about you. When you set the right kind of agenda you set the tone for the meeting and you take control.
These points are explored fully and in more detail as a part of Estadia’s ‘Field Sales: Closing More Sales’ course. By doing so it is possible to identify and build a strategy for every Sales Professional who attends. One of our most recent delegates on this course, a highly experienced Business Development Manager had this to say:
“I came thinking I needed polishing but now realise that some skills need to be learned afresh, which this course achieved”
If you are looking for developing new strategies for closing more sales appointments, then this one-day course could be the ideal solution and you can attend either an open course or host it within your own workplace and deliver a valuable development opportunity to your entire team. Find out more about the contents of this course here or call us on 084510 222 963.
An established Sales Strategy is essential to make sure you’ve taken all the necessary steps to best position yourself when your prospect is ‘ready to buy’.
Once you have applied your sales strategy you will undoubtedly benefit in several ways
- Achievement of targets,
- Business growth
- Effective staff management
- Motivation & Focus
- Identification of opportunities
- Fully trained & productive staff
- Effective controls & measurement
- Joined up marketing & sales
The sales strategy wheel outlines the seven stages of sales success and is the mechanism by which Estadia tests an existing sales strategy and creates the new programme. Here’s how we approach it:
Systems and Controls
Having the right systems and controls is the cornerstone of any sales organisation. Sale, follow up, measurement and invoicing processes are all essential to the overall strategy and key to its success.
Ensuring the right people doing the right job with the right motivation can increase your sales output dramatically. Having the wrong person with the wrong attitude can make the difference between success and failure.
Incentives and Motivation
Even with the right people in place, they can be de-motivated by ineffective incentive schemes and pay plans. A focused pay plan will provide direction and purpose to the sales department.
It is essential that sales staff receive the correct training to compliment and enhance their abilities and provide the skill platform for success.
Is the product being sold easily identified and understood by the customer? Is it priced correctly? What are the key benefits to the buyer for purchasing the product?
Understanding the effects of marketing on the sales department helps the sales team to develop the best approach for each enquiry type. Referrals should be treated differently to speculative enquiries, for instance.
It is vital that the management know what they require in terms of sales and income and that this is translated into sales targets for each member of staff. Coupled with target measurement and the right incentives, the sales team will have clear direction and motivation.
The Seven stages of Sales Success is taken from our Resources Centre, where you can access and download a number of free sales resources that will benefit your sales team.
Maybe creating a Sales Strategy seems like a daunting task. Maybe you don’t feel like you have the time to carefully assess each aspect of your business, its products or services, or its customers. Estadia invites you to take part in a one-hour, one-to-one assessment session designed to look in to your current status to see if you would benefit from their full Sales Strategy service.
This session is free of charge and will cost nothing but a little of your time. In return, each participating business will be provided with some real, practical strategies for improving their sales and suggestions on key developments.
Call Estadia on 01271 446453 today or visit our website to enquire about a free Sales Strategy Session today.