Wow! What a challenge… increase sales in your company by 150% in the next six months? When Sheena at Succeed Magazine asked me if I could share ideas on how to do that I thought maybe she should ask me to do something a little easier like “Walk on water!” Then I began to search through my memory bank for times I’ve experienced major increases in my own sales and the increases I’ve seen clients achieve and realised many of them went up by more than 150% in six to 12 months. How was that achieved?
Let’s start with a foundation thought. Professional selling is, “Continually walking into the world of uncertainty… certain of your success because you are practicing and using on a daily basis the winning habits, skills, processes, attitudes and methodologies used by those who are already succeeding at the highest possible level in your profession.” What I’m saying is that the “bank of success factors” are already there and proven. All we have to do is implement them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I am going to share some of those with you. Know that no one thing will give you that 150% increase. It will be the compounding effect of a number of habits, skills, processes, attitudes and methodologies that you implement. What I’m going to do is use the 80/20 principle. I’m going to share with you the 20% that will give you 80% of the results. Use as many of these points as possible.
Optimise your cash flow with sales
Before you lay out cash on assets, products or projects that could be financed over a long term ask yourself the question: “Instead of paying R150 000 for this vehicle next month, can I finance the vehicle over 48 months and use that R150 000 over the next six months to add two or three additional sales people to the team?” If you have three sales people now and add three more, that alone could dramatically lift your sales in the next six to 12 months.
Stay in front of clients more often
Set a target for yourself and your people that each week by Thursday at 4pm everybody has 70% of their appointments for the following week already booked and 30% for the next week. This helps with a fast start for the week, which gets the momentum going early in the week. Put in an Incentive each week for everyone Add to this idea two early morning appointments each week and one late afternoon appointment. Starting earlier and ending later will increase sales. It increases the activity of being in front of clients more often. On one survey only 12% of the sales force would take three “No’s” from a client and keep on calling. That 12% wrote over 80% of the sales in the group surveyed. Don’t give up too early.
Phone in batches.
When setting appointments have your people sit down and phone clients in batches. That way your sales people gain momentum and energy with each call. Momentum and energy draws people to you and puts you in the maximum performance area where your mind is sharp and in the flow. Phoning in between doing other things doesn’t build momentum. It is disruptive to the flow.
Use meeting requests
Some of my clients are having great success sending meeting requests with a brief “captivating” reason for the meeting. Meeting requests are becoming a way of life. They’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of positive responses they are receiving.
Think share of wallet
Often we don’t need more clients we need more from the clients we have. Selling today is really about putting the client first. Develop a formal or informal client-needs analysis approach. Narrow your questions down to ones that truly help the clients explore all of their immediate, medium and long term needs, wants, preferences and desires. Already this year, 50% of my time has been with one major client conducting two and three day sessions with their acquisition and relationship managers, teaching them skills using a specifically designed Needs Analysis Questionnaire. It is becoming their competitive edge because it builds relationships, forces the salesperson to invest time with the client, the right questions are asked, all opportunities are identified and the clients feel they are finally being listened to. It also makes collaboration with other divisions and other providers more effective. The Marketing Analysis Questionnaire that I developed and used as a broadcast salesperson earned me the equivalent of several million rand a year over 30 years ago in Canada.
Many of my associates within the speaking and training industry ask me how I write million rand deals. I always ask how many million rand proposals do you have in the pipeline? They often say none. My answer… you will only write million rand deals if you have million rand proposals in the pipeline with a million rand value to the client.
Go fishing where the fish are
Here is an exercise I did with my team that gave us more than 300% increase the following year. We asked ourselves this question: “Which companies, organisations, institutions or government departments could invest R20 million or more, R15-20 million, R10-15 million, R5-10 million, R2-5 million, R1-2 million in a given year if we gave them a good enough reason to do it. Then we filled in the name of the companies and organisations in the appropriate category and came up with ideas on what they may need and proceeded to calling on these clients with a specific tailored strategy in mind with frequency of contact over a given period of time. Sales really jumped that year and we landed several of these clients.
Focus on the right prospects and clients with the right frequency with the right database (frequency of contact) selling tools and methods with the right solutions. Categorise your clients/prospects AAA, AA, A, B and C. The Ds (Disengage) you don’t need.
There is gold in those hills
Put a special emphasis on your Develop clients. We categorise present clients under Retain and Develop and the prospects under Regain and Gain. In the Develop column you find the gold that is near the surface. A Develop client is someone who you are receiving a small amount of business from who has the potential of spending much more with you. A competitor may be their supplier of preference. Put a frequency of contact strategy together, along with value-add ideas, and conduct a proper needs analysis. You already have a relationship of one degree or another with the client. Accelerate your effort and build the relationship. Sooner or later in most situations the competitor will drop the ball and you are sitting in an excellent position to bring the majority of the business to you.
Remember, 81% of all conversion business comes from the fifth call and onward. Be there when they are ready to move.
Everyone is in sales
Get everyone involved in sales. In small to medium sized businesses the business owner is often the best salesperson. Don’t forget this. Clients and potential clients like to hear from the top person. Put together your own list of clients and get in front of the right clients more often. That could give you a big increase. Also have your service and support people involved. Have them make telephone calls in reference to client satisfaction and how and when your company can be of more help. Even your credit department needs to look for opportunities for additional sales. Give all your members personalised business cards with their name printed on it and teach them how to prospect with the business cards. When one of my sons was 12 years old he gave his business card to an executive on a chairlift while going up a ski mountain. The president of the company called me personally to hire me. He was very impressed that Shane had a business card, a title and was part of the business. I’ve had some technicians in auto mobile dealerships bring in more clients than some of the salespeople because they were given personalised business cards and shown how to use them. The business cards will also give a sense of ownership and motivation to staff who have never had a business card.
Sales or revenue
Keep in mind that there is a difference between sales targets and revenue targets. I’ve had clients that hit their sales targets but missed their revenue targets because the revenue from the sale may come in over a 3-36 month period. In the early part of a 12 month period put a special emphasis on a “fast start” and try to have 70% of your annual sales target sold at the halfway mark. That helps with the revenue. Put in short term incentives for over-achieving in the early months. Also, be sure to measure. What gets measured gets managed and what gets managed gets done. Put a “peg in the ground”. The difference between a goal and a dream is – a goal is a dream with a deadline. June 11, 2010 was a dream with a deadline (World Cup). That is have new stadiums in Soweto, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Be innovative… think outside of the box and remember planning and ideas are great, but it’s action that creates clarity. Take your pick and start moving towards the 150% increase. Write to me and let me know your results.