- Getting Prepared
- Starting a Business
- Operating a Business
- Business Strategy and Analysis
- Business Workbench
Contrary to popular opinion, new products do not “sell themselves.” Even the best products need the help of creative marketing programs and skilled sales people. The expertise of the sales staff is the beating heart of any successful marketing program.
Learn to be able to step back and take a good look at the long-term objectives of your business. Then think about how your sales goals coordinate with them. When a team sets aggressive goals for growth, as well as high standards for the sales staff, the top performers deliver through a focus on client feedback to create the highest-quality product, and forward-looking customer service to vest clients in the product and the company’s reputation. Strategically hiring top sales people that reinforce company culture, and allowing them to develop into leaders in their business and service units is a proven recipe for success.
Have regular sales meetings that include key people involved with producing or distributing your product. Everyone will have different opinions as to what is important to your operation. This is OK. Concentrate on collecting ideas, get as much input as possible. Encourage people to brainstorm, develop lists of what you do well and why, then how these things reflect your operation’s core values and mission statement. Clearly look at what is not working and determine where that path failed.
Make people aware of the negative consequences of not getting results. If the sales staff is not self-motivated they probably will not function effectively as individuals and less so as a team; both can be harmful to catastrophic for your business.
Pleasure is a great motivator. Providing pleasurable rewards creates eager and productive people. This can be done through performance incentives. They earn something and in doing so benefit your company and product. If you do this, clearly spell out what you want for a specific result, give specific instructions. People work better when they know exactly what is expected of them. Usually they will strive to best a set goal. With respect to goals, use both short and long-term goals to create an overall philosophy, then guide the action process with timely goals and milestones.
Never forget that everyone is human. Treat people with respect and caring and they eagerly want to play on your team. Disrespect or slight them and most will function to the very least of their ability or at worst, do everything they can to see you fail. An environment of creative camaraderie will have your sales staff working as a team —soldiers fight for their comrades, no one wants to let others down. So, be sure to recognize achievements, both one-on-one, but especially within the group setting. Make sure you recognize every player, not just the star of the team. People like to know that they are valued and are key to the business.
People are most happy when they progress towards a goal. Give them the opportunity to face new and difficult problems. For this reason, most people work well just before a deadline. Use this to your advantage. Since deadlines are great motivators, a series of small attainable deadlines or sales goals are far more productive than one big one at the end of the fiscal year.
Make sure that your sales staff does not stagnate. Let people have fun and work within a positive environment. Prove to them that their best effort will pay off.
In any communication between you and your sales team, within your sales team, and between your sales team and distributors and your client customers. How you communicate is critical. Here are few thoughts that can help from Bernard Franklin’s The Work of Leaders (2013):
- Be straightforward and transparent.
- Look at it from the listener’s point of view. It needs to make sense to them.
- Monitor people’s reactions for (to monitor their) comprehension
- Find the “headline” of your message. You should be able to boil it down to eight words or fewer.
- Create talking points that balance the big picture and the details.
- Refer back to your message repeatedly over time.
- Top Sellers: Characteristics of a Superior Salesperson – University of Florida Extension -- This document will focus on the benefits of being a top seller, the attributes of a top seller, the difference between tellers and sellers and how to define a top seller.
- Salespeople: Position Yourselves with Power – SalesVantage.com -- The position you, as a salesperson, occupy is a complex intertwining of the perception of your company, your solutions and yourself.
- Birth of the American Salesman – HBS Working Knowledge -- Modern sales management is a uniquely American story.
- Using Prospecting to Expand Your Customer Base – University of Florida Extension -- This paper will focus on three keys to successful prospecting.
- What to Do When a Prospect is Blowing You Off -- Entrepreneur.com – What to do when a new customer unexpectedly backs off.
- Building a Sales Pipeline – chroncom -- How do you get prospects who are not looking for the “things” you are offering to start to look?
- How Winners Manage Their Pipelines – SalesVantage.com -- Too many salespeople think that pipeline management is a bureaucratic burden placed on them just to keep their bosses happy.
- Using the Pipeline to Align Sales and Marketing – SalesVantage.com -- Marketing and sales teams will stay on target and manage the company’s opportunities better by using a buying pipeline.
- Effective Oral Communication for Sales Presentations – University of Florida Extension -- Effective oral communication skills can benefit people in various fields and positions, but it cannot be taught as easily as most personal skills.
- Sales Letters and Proposals – Entrepreneur.com - How to write sales letters and proposals.
- Sales Meetings and Presentations – Entrepreneur.com - A source for several articles on sales meetings and presentations.
Sales Calls and Referrals
- Cold-Calling and Telemarketing – Entrepreneur.com -- Everyone hates making cold calls--until they learn how to do it properly. Follow these seven steps to overcome your fear, and start dialing for dollars.
- How to Effectively Reduce Sales Call Reluctance – University of Florida Extension -- A wide variety of companies utilize direct selling to market their products and services. This document is intended for salespeople who must seek out potential customers, as opposed to waiting for prospects to enter a retail establishment.
- Obtaining Referrals to Increase Sales – University of Florida Extension -- This document will explore methods for gaining referrals in the sales industry based on how you service customers.
- How to Sell in Start-ups – HBS Working Knowledge – Getting that first customer is crucial for a new business, but it’s just the beginning.
- 6 Sales Secrets to Turn a Rookie Into a Superstar– Entrepreneur.com – Various aspects of the successful-sales mindset.
- Articles on Selling Tactics – SalesVantage.com – A variety of articles on tactics to use in selling.
- Customer Service and Retention – Entrepreneur.com – A series of articles on developing and using exceptional customer service as a retention and increased sales tool.
Links checked September 2017.