The New Year is always an interesting time for salespeople and sales teams. Plenty of people make New Year’s Resolutions at this time of year, and some people will have included within them resolutions for their sales figures, their career or for their business.
I thought it would be useful therefore, to give you an idea what I’m working on with the sales leaders and salespeople I work with regularly, to help them make great sales in 2013 – so that you can implement the same things to get great results as well.
Here are my suggestions for the Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for your sales team:
Sales Resolution No 1 – Increase Your Prospecting Activity
If your goal or outcome for 2013 is to increase your sales, or that of your team, one of the things to look at is to increase your prospecting activities.
Most salespeople tend not to have enough prospects, and therefore rely on most of their ‘deals’ coming off, in order to hit their targets. That’s a recipe for failure.
Take a look at whatever prospecting activities you’ve been doing (that have been working for you, of course) and look at how you can increase them. You might also want to increase the range of activities as well.
Whether your prospecting activities include networking, cold calling, referrals, cold canvassing or anything else, simply upping the activity will generate better results.
Sales Resolution No 2 – Filter Your Prospects Better
You can only do this step, when you have a lot of prospects, so once you have enough prospects, the next step is to filter them. What I mean by that is to look at which prospects are better for you. So how on earth do you judge which are better than others?
If you’ve already profiled your prospects, then you’ll already know what I mean. If you haven’t, here are some quick tips. From experience either you or your manager will have an idea which of your prospects are most likely to convert, which will do so faster than others, and which will be worth the most money.
This might be based on their industry, the level of decision maker you’re talking to (or not!), their buying motivation, size of project, approval process and impending deadlines etc.
Based on the results of your filtering, you can now work out which prospects you need to focus on, and which ones require you to qualify them a little harder. Please note, if the thought of doing this makes you hesitant or concerned that you might ‘lose’ a prospect or two, then you probably haven’t got enough prospects in the first place – go back to Resolution 1!
Sales Resolution No 3 – Improve Your Pipeline Control
Pretty much every sales leader I speak to, wishes their salespeople were better at controlling their sales pipeline.
Most salespeople have deals in their pipeline that actually have no hope of coming off, yet they often don’t realise it. Also, when I ask salespeople to talk me though their pipeline, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re not ‘on top’ of it, they don’t know where they stand in relation to others in their deals, and often don’t have a concrete plan for bringing that piece of business in, rather than losing it to a competitor.
That needs addressing, right now! Every salesperson should be on top of their sales pipeline. They should know where they stand in relation to their competitors in every deal. They should know the buying motivation of the client, who they need to influence, and what timescales are at work as a minimum. They should also know what actions they need to take (and by when) in order to win the business, rather than lose it to a competitor.
If you’re not on top of your pipeline, it might be time to look at your qualification of prospects, or your ability to get the deeper needs from the client earlier in the sales process. Or it could be down to your failure to ‘stand out’ from the competition right at the start of the process. Find out which one it is and do something about it, now!
Sales Resolution No 4 – Improve Your Online Networking
For those of you that read my articles regularly, or have seen me speak at one of my events, you’ll know I’m a big fan of salespeople using online networking to win more business.
However, I say that only when it’s used in the right way! Social Media and Online Networking can be the biggest waste of time in the world when done badly, or a great contributor to your ‘new business’ activities when done well.
As far as I’m concerned, the results I’ve seen from showing clients how to use it effectively as a sales tool have been nothing short of astounding! When I run courses on how to get the best sales results from it, delegates often see extra sales very quickly – so if you’re not on there yet, you can bet your competitors are already doing business from it.
Sales Resolution No 5 – Develop Consistent Focus
When I’m working with Sales Leaders all over the world, many ask me how they can keep their sales team focused on a more consistent basis. They’re often finding that their salespeople are distracted by other things, they lose their focus and they fall into habit, of doing the same things over and over again, and don’t generate the sales results that they should.
One of the things I work on with my clients is developing a monthly focus. It can be difficult for anyone to maintain focus on a consistent basis over a long period. By making it a monthly focus instead, it makes it much simpler, and by changing the focus every month, it’s kept ‘fresh’ and interesting for the team.
All you have to do is make the focus for that month relevant to the goals of the Sales Leader, or the company – and looking at what behaviour you want to encourage from within the team itself.
One of the biggest barriers to improved sales results is changing the everyday sales behaviour of the team. They’ve got results (at some level) so far by doing what they’ve done, so many doing see the point in changing it. Or even worse – they’re resistant to changing it because they haven’t got much else apart from it!
By implementing some simple things within their existing sales behaviour you can see some small changes have an impact on their sales results almost immediately.
Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar – I look forward to hearing how you get on!