There is so much talk about how to get through this difficult economy (rightfully so), but bottom line is it gets down to practicing the fundamentals. It's no different than what is going on now with major league baseball professionals at Spring Training. Even the super stars, who make millions of dollars, are practicing the fundamentals to get ready for the season. Here's a checklist for sales leaders to insure you and your sales team are practicing the fundamentals to excel in this economy.
- Target the segments and prospects your sales staff should be going after right now. What segments are doing well and/or spending resources? What existing customers can we leverage for additional dollars and vertically integrate? Are there past customers, from a previous relationship, we can revisit?
- Qualify the prospects to insure your sales staff is investing their time wisely. Make sure your staff knows your expectations of the type of qualified prospect they should be targeting.
- What is the value proposition you want delivered to get an appointment? Most sales people will try to "sell" their product or service as a solution for the prospect rather than position themselves as a resource, consultant or expert who can help them identify opportunities and solutions (which may or may not include what you sell.)
- Have a formal process to move prospects through your pipeline. Statistics tell us if you have a formal process in place you have a 93% chance of making the sale versus 42% if your sales people just "wing it."
- Your sales people must identify the prospects essential needs to come out of this ahead of their competition. Again, it's not about 'pitching' your product or service, but rather identifying the major issues and challenges of your prospects. A Bill Brooks quote is "People will buy from professionals who best understand what they want."
- Have a system to insure every lead is followed up on. Statistics say that over 65% of leads are never followed up on once a new prospect is uncovered. So, if your closing average is 25% and you could insure that every lead is followed up on that will translate into new business.
- Have some kind of scoreboard or measurement to make people accountable for doing these fundamental activities. The key is to focus on the activities that lead to a sale rather than just measuring sales results. Does an NFL team just measure the final score? No, they measure sacks, hurries, QB rating, etc. etc. etc. (hundreds of categories by position!)
In a turbulent economy top performing companies don't sacrifice on marketing and sales education, but rather see it as an investment and opportunity to distance themselves from their competition. Now is the time to invest in your sales team. Anyone can sell in a good economy, but now is the time for your sales team to step up and perform. Give them the leadership, tools and resources for them to be successful. It's all begins with your focus and accountability on mastering the fundamentals of successful selling.