We can all agree sales performance is critical for every business. Increasing sales performance should be at the forefront of sales directors minds. There is a range of approaches and ways to do this. Here are 8 approaches that help you avoid some of the common mistakes others make. These 8 act as a shortcut to sales growth and success.

In an “always on” and “always connected” world, moving at a huge speed I am increasingly finding people are trying to improve their sales performance. Very often sales directors are focusing in on the more complex development areas at the far end of skills or leading edge techniques and approaches. I am not ruling these areas out, and I encourage you to look at your performance at all times. Having said that, how about looking at all the fundamentals of increasing sales performance? A couple of teams over the last two weeks have benefited massively from looking at all of the fundamentals to increase their sales performance. These are the areas we discussed with them:

1. Create clarity on what we are selling to who.

It sounds very basic (it is very basic) but many businesses try and launch new products and services to a new bunch of customers. Can we look and see what existing products and services could be sold (or resold) to existing customer. Once we have exhausted that list, how about looking at new products and services to existing customers, then offer these to new potential customers. NOTE – Every time we engage with our client's own customers they don’t know fully what our clients do, it’s not their job. It’s your job to make it as easy to understand as possible.

2. Pick up the phone and speak to people.

It is surprising how many customers, network, and connections we have lost contact with. Have a plan to speak to them (not email them) on a regular basis. Do this just to keep in contact, keep up to date with them and then share what you are doing. Every time people do this, they contact me with a story that says “We had a great chat then they said they could do with something from us or, they invited us back in to see what else they could do with us”. Purposeful activity will breed sales opportunity – pick up the phone and say hello to a few folks you haven’t spoken to for a few months. I use a simple technique when I am traveling in the car. I pick a list of four or five people I have spoken to for some time and make an effort to call them all.

3. Have a target list and make it visible to you, your team and your network.

People can’t help us if they don’t know what we are looking for. We can’t help ourselves if we don’t have that real sales focus that only comes from discussing the target list and having it written down. Once you have this list, keep it up to date, current and visible to you and your whole organisation. Ask yourself regularly “Are we moving closer to these key clients?”

4. Look at where your business comes from.

Look at every piece of work you have over the last quarter and trace its origin back to the first contact with the customer. If you find the vast majority of your customers found you via networking and trade shows, then look at what other networking you can do and see which other trade shows you can attend (obviously checking the return on investment both in terms of cash and time). Repeat the things that are working. Analyse the things not working and change them. This is the key to effective and efficient sales approach.

5. Go back to your advocates and ask them the following questions:

Note the specific language is important and you can ask these over a series of meetings -

  • What else do you need from us?
  • Who else within your business should I be speaking to?
  • Who else in the marketplace should I be speaking to?

Note that this approach is highly effective. It is getting people who love what you do to introduce you to others who might benefit from dealing with you. It’s a simple process and is so often missed.

6. Get rid of some of your customers!

Sounds dramatic I know, but it does really work. Not every customer that you win continues to benefit your business over time. We suggest looking at our “Grade your customers” activity once per quarter. This activity can free your time and effort to focus on new more profitable customers. This approach also helps you focus in on growing your customers and finding new customers.

7. Look at what you are measuring.

Many organisations focus too much on activity rather than output. One Sales Director we spoke to said he needed his appointment setting team to make 100 dials per day. We asked what he really wanted he said one appointment per person per day. When we checked if his team made 30 calls and generated 2 appointments would that be better? He replied that no, the 100 calls was more important! Make sure you don’t fall into this trap. Focus on the key output, not on Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that don’t benefit you. The three simplest KPI’s to measure and track are:

  • Your order size
  • Your conversion rate
  • Your number of orders

8. Review your sales pipeline.

And we mean really review it, with a critical view of what is real and timescales for these opportunities to close. What can be pulled forward and what needs to be removed. Once this is all done, look at your pipeline, is it going to help you hit your sales number or do you need more activity to generate new opportunities.

These 8 simple techniques aren’t an exhaustive list. They are though, very effective and often get missed. One of the questions we ask of our customers is “Are you doing the basics and are you doing them extraordinarily well?” The answer to part one is sometimes yes and the answer to the second part is generally no. Take some time and make sure the foundations of your sales approach are in place. This is the key to increasing your sales performance.

If in doubt revisit this list on a quarterly basis and ensure that you are putting in your maximum effort to get the returns you want and need. Grow and refine this list for you and your sales team. Keep focusing in on increasing your sales performance.

Article by Nevil Tynemouth of New Results.

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