From time-to-time, almost every company needs a quick revenue boost for a quarter, a year-end, or a number of other reasons. However, you don’t want to do it at the expense of longer term growth or by jeopardizing profits. How do you go about doing it without throwing a lot of money or time into the project?
While contributions from all areas of the company are required to generate revenue, sales is typically the simplest way to realize immediate improvement without making sweeping changes, increasing expenses or putting your long term strategy at risk.
This relatively short program for boosting your sales can buy you time to execute your strategy for sustained growth, while leaving you in a better position to achieve it. The sequence of the actions is important, so follow the steps in order to maximize its effectiveness.
Improve the Support for Sales from the Rest of the Company
While it is essential to ensure the Sales Executive and staff know that they personally can be causative over any barrier to sales and that for their own livelihood, they must always look at what they personally can do to create more sales, it is also helpful to find out from your Sales executive what barriers or problems he considers he has that are preventing him from creating higher sales. This could include problems from other parts of the company, from competition or wherever. Almost invariably, you’ll hear many reasons external to Sales such as shortcomings in IT, Marketing, product quality or some other area. Get a list of those external barriers, but be careful not to accept these reasons as THE reasons as to why they don’t have higher sales.
One of the big mistakes in sales is assigning your low sales to someone else or something else other than what you can control. Once you “give over” that control you suddenly find yourself without the ability to really handle your own productivity and what a trap that becomes! You can always find much inefficiency, problems and barriers that need to be addressed and changed within what you or your sales people are doing and right there within the organization. Once they are addressed and changed could contribute heavily to higher sales.
Start by prioritizing these items and immediately set about getting the barriers and inefficiencies addressed by those whose job it is to handle the parts of the organization where a problem has arisen.
We highly recommend that while you are handling those things that need to be addressed, it is always a very good idea to include finding the quickest and least expensive way to get some promotion out that will drive in more leads for the sales organization in the meantime. Ensure the rest of the company is backing up Sales and providing needed support. Don’t take long on these initial steps.
Take care to ensure the head of Sales will not think that’s all he needs and everything will be fine “now that you got the rest of those guys in line.” As now you can focus on your primary target…sales. The main purpose of these earlier steps was to free up the Sales leader’s attention on the external reasons to a degree, so he can better concentrate on the internal reasons.
Boost the Effort and Efficiency in the Sales Organization
Now as you move into Sales, start by addressing the quantity of customer touches by increasing the effort and efficiency of your Sales Reps. However you measure your customer or prospect touches and the precursors to those, gather and examine those numbers in detail. First, look at the combined numbers for the whole organization and work your way down to the individual reps.
If you have historical data, find an earlier time period where the numbers were higher than the current level so you have a comparison for what capacity has been achieved before. Also look for other comparisons within the organization such as comparing sales territories or regions, product lines and individual sales reps. If you don’t have another time frame to compare to or if this is their highest level, use another territory or sales rep that is in very similar circumstances but has higher output.
Appeal to the sales reps’ competitive nature and challenge them to keep up with their rival reps. Get each area and individual to increase their output to at least the levels of the comparison point you identified. Tease them that, after all, they were able to do it before and unless they’ve gotten old or lazy they can certainly do it again. Or, Joe and Alice can do it…certainly he’s as good as them.
If a rep can do 100 touches in the best of conditions while working very diligently but they are only doing 80, you are losing 20% of your potential revenue from them. Get every incremental gain you can from each rep and team. This can add up fast across an entire Sales organization.
If the effort is there, but they aren’t talking to enough prospects, they are doing something. Find out what they are doing besides talking to clients and potential clients. Most likely it isn’t something necessary and you can just have them stop doing it. Or, they can be extremely productive at things that are not going to make you the most amount of revenue. This is where you will need to dig in and reprioritize the actions of those actually doing the selling or if it is a necessary action but someone else could possibly do it (like an administrative type action), pull those functions they are currently doing and give them to someone else who is not directly on your sales lines. Hopefully, it’s at least business related and not video games or other personal things!
Increase the Quality of Customer Touches
Now you need to improve their skills to increase the quality of the touches. Ensure you maintain the higher quantity you achieve from the above actions while you turn your focus to quality to maximize your gains. If the quantity slips, go back and fix it fast before moving on with the quality steps.
Listen to their phone calls, read e-mails, go with them to meetings or whatever means allows you to inspect the communication your reps are having with prospects. Correct them with constructive feedback. Just knowing that you are checking or accompanying them will cause many to step up their quality and perform at their best. Inspect for such things as:
- Are they representing themselves, your product(s) and your company well?
- Are they properly qualifying prospects?
- Are they using the standard pitches or scripts?
- Are they being efficient with their time and able to keep the needed quantity in?
- Are they applying the Sales training you’ve provided?
- Are they making good advances toward a close?
- Are they missing close opportunities?
Use the materials from your Sales training and show them precisely where they misapplied it or didn’t apply it. If you don’t have training for the Sales team, you should remedy this fast.
You’ll find some reps have multiple points that need to be corrected, but don’t try to fix everything at once. Pick the most important point and correct that. Ensure that point is fully corrected before you move on to the next point. Don’t overwhelm them with criticism and remember to validate them for what they are doing well.
Share the most effective customer touches made by your best reps with the rest of the team so they see examples of doing it the right way and the great results from doing so.
You should see some fast results from the above steps and buy you some time to dig into the other areas of the company for further improvements and sustained growth. The best news is that your work in Sales will better position them to capitalize on the improvements throughout the rest of the company.
The program can (and should) also be repeated from time-to-time to keep your Sales organization operating at its peak.
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