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Four Ways to Beef Up Sales…Immediately
Last week, one of my clients - we'll call him Rick - had a demo scheduled with a
prospect. The standard "show up and throw up" they typically did early in the
Trying to shorten the sales cycle, I asked naively, "Why does the customer want
to buy? What are they trying to accomplish?" Rick couldn't tell me. I asked if
he thought the salespeople knew. He said no. I gave him an assignment: he had
to find out "Why?" "Why now?" and "What’s it worth?" Otherwise, no demo.
In other words, no compelling reason to buy, no demo. So Rick took a risk and is
rapidly moving to a fully paid trial implementation.
Sure, long-term objectives and plans still matter, but I've been getting more
and more inquiries focused on "what to do now." Entrepreneurs and executives
alike are demanding help on how to improve revenues and profits right away.
How do you make the quickest difference? Focus the bulk of your energy on
revenue generation. In other words, sales! And don't do it the same old way
either, because - as you may have noticed - it isn't working that well.
Here are four ways for your sales force to bring in more business in short
order. There are no magic bullets, but just last week I taught one of these
techniques to a client(#2), and he used it to close a deal the following day!
Use one or use them all. Each technique will have its own effect, and each will
multiply the power of the others.
- Sell return on investment, and sell it to the CFO.
Sales people are complaining that while the pipeline may be full, the deals are
taking too long to close. Perhaps that's why the pipeline is so full! What are
the reasons for this? Companies have money, and in many cases they have needs.
But many people are so scared their customers aren't going to buy their wares,
they are loath to spend any money themselves. The result? They are only willing
to spend money when they absolutely see short-term financial payback, and the
CFO is killing many deals.
The solution? Sell the return on investment. Sell the payback. And sell it to
the CFO. Arm your salespeople with two things: a series of case studies that
document the returns from using your services, and a well-defined ROI process
worksheet. Work with the CFO to build the ROI case so that he owns it. This is
the only way CFOs come to believe it. Make it their idea and instead of killing
your deal, they will help you close it.
- Forget USP. Determine your usage cases.
Instead of focusing on why your service is the latest and greatest, clarify the
ways in which potential customers will use your services to solve specific
problems and produce tangible results. Then, instead of touting the "benefits"
of your product - which often fall on deaf ears, anyway – engage your prospects
in conversations about what costly and quantifiable problems they now have and
how they might use your service to alleviate them.
And, as sales guru Mike Bosworth says, don't tell them your service is the
solution. You're a sales "guy" and they won't believe you. Instead, ask them if
your possible solution might help them. If they believe it does, they have
accepted your solution as truth. Then get them to tell you, in real dollar
terms, what fixing that problem is worth.
- Increase sales training.
But don't expect any one salesperson -- even your superstars -- to be 100
percent proficient at every part of your sales process. They almost never are.
But there is a way you can raise the level of every person in your sales
organization - immediately.
Use this process adopted from W. Edwards Demming's principle of optimization.
Break your sales process into as many discrete - but meaningful - steps as you
can. These will include:
- Cold calling,
- Letter writing,
- Setting appointments,
- Identifying pain,
- Writing proposals,
And so on. Find out who in your organization excels at each step, and have those
reps explain their methods and mindset to the rest of your sales force. Do all
the steps at once in a marathon session, or one step at a time. Either way, the
results will be amazing.
- Track your results and work harder.
Most sales organizations fail to analyze their efforts. They have no idea how
much effort - or money - it takes to create a new customer. The only indication
they have of whether salespeople are "doing enough" is based on the revenue
numbers. The answer? Track both activity and results, and use the statistics you
garner to quickly raise performance. Break your sales process into a series of
meaningful steps, counting each time a rep completes one. Calculate averages and
set a benchmark. And while you're at it, analyze the percentage of deals that
close whenever you complete that step. That knowledge can dramatically improve
your sales forecasts.
Once you establish benchmarks - this one's a no-brainer – raise the bar. Yes,
that's right, because the fact is, revenue isn't coming in fast enough. Do
everything discussed above to improve your sales effectiveness--then do more of
it. Just working smarter isn't going to cut it.
-(c) 2002, Paul Lemberg and Stratamax Research.
Paul Lemberg is the director of Stratamax Research, a strategy and coaching
firm. You can subscribe to Extraordinary Results at www.lemberg.com/erp.html and
find out more at www.lemberg.com.
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