Every business has some aspect of sales woven into the fabric of their operation. Whether it's convincing people they're the most reputable doctor, best tasting restaurant, or cheapest insurance around, every enterprise is selling something. The difference between industries is that some specifically employ salespeople to accomplish this task. These are trained individuals who know their company's products forward and backward and have a knack for connecting with people and convincing them to buy. No matter how well a sales team is doing, however, there's always room for improvement. If a business owner is looking to boost the productivity of their sales team and increase profits, then there's a few things they should have their eye on when hiring candidates and training employees.
Dedicate Time to Training
Whether you're discussing roofing sales tips or medical supply pitches, every new member on a sales team will need comprehensive training to sell specific products. This is not an area where companies want to cut costs. The more time and energy spent training new hires means the more prepared they are when they enter the field themselves. Detailed training can include group classes, one-on-one sessions, or even offering a mentor to show the new hire the ropes. Especially in complex or technical industries, it's important to remember that training should be a process. Most people won't be able to pick up on all the intricacies of a business after watching just one or two training videos. A lengthy training process that can move at the new hire's pace is the best way to properly educate them, give them hands-on experience, and build their confidence all in a controlled environment before they go out representing the company on their own.
Know Your People
Managers should do their best to see every employee as an individual, instead of a group of salespeople. This is because every member of a sales team can offer unique talents and special skills that can further the purpose of the business. Some might be great at cold calling and others great at in-person meetings. Instead of having all of the employees perform the same variety of tasks, some of which they might not be suited for, employers can try dividing the team based on everyone's skills. They can set up a sub-team of people who strictly make calls and set appointments, another team who goes to the meetings, and even a third that visits clientele unsolicited to drop off information. By divvying up everyone's skills into dedicated areas of the sales process, employers can greatly boost their productivity and success because they're playing to everyone's strengths to create a cohesive team.
Do Your Homework
Some people might think of sales as dialing all the numbers they can find in the phonebook and waiting for someone to say yes to their pitch. This is a great way to waste time and energy on people who aren't interested or in need of a product. Instead, sales teams should be spending an adequate amount of time researching and preparing for the leads they want to generate. This means finding lists of area businesses or sources of people who might need the offered product, then cross-checking company databases to see if any of them are already a subscriber. By doing this, sales teams can generate lists of solid potential leads and reach out to people who are more likely to let them in the door or set an appointment to further discuss the products.
A second portion of this step is to qualify who and what is needed to complete a sale. For example, if someone looking to sell products to large companies and they find a company with only 15 employees, it's not worth it to pursue that lead because the products they're selling won't help those people. Doing a little research as potential businesses are found can save the sales team countless hours of preparation and face-to-face time that could otherwise be spent pursuing actual sales.
Possibly the most business is lost in the sales industry by agents not following up with leads. Even cold leads should get an email or phone call every six months to a year. Getting in touch with people who maybe didn't the product before or weren't in a place to make a buying decision puts the salesperson in a new position to reintroduce the product and any new aspects or features it may not have had before. The buyers may also be in a better position to make buying decisions or have developed a need for the product, so the potential for a sale to a previously cold lead is suddenly present.
The best way to make sure every lead is followed up with is to keep diligent records of all calls and touches to any potential clients. Every call should be logged with the date, time, and response of the lead, then marked with a future date to follow up. This can help eliminate missing sales because of disorganized records or having people lost in the shuffle of daily business.
Foster Positive Habits
Certain personalities make great salespeople, and if managers know how to foster a natural determination with the right mindset, then their team will reach their fullest potential every year. The first and most important habit to teach sales teams is how to be proactive. Odds are customers won't be knocking on the door ready to hand over their money, so sales teams need to find ways to bring customers to them. Things such as advertising, cold calling, and researching businesses are all ways to be proactive in finding new sales. This mindset helps to keep everyone busy and productive at all times and can generate more sales than simply following up with people who indicated interest through some type of media.
Goal setting and visualization are other great tools used by salespeople to keep themselves on track and focused on the end game. Goal setting is especially helpful with new employees because it shows them where to focus their time and energy, while also creating a sense of accomplishment when they reach that goal. Visualization is a great tool for new and seasoned sellers. It can help people to flesh out exactly how they'll approach a meeting or sale and give them time to consider all the possible outcomes. Preparing for the best and worst case scenarios can help salespeople think on their feet and feel ready to seize even the toughest accounts.
Finally, companies should keep their sales teams focused on why they exist in the first place: to help the customer. It can get easy to fall into the cut throat mentally of the sales industry, but if salespeople remember that helping the client helps them make money, then they'll be an ethical, trustworthy team customers will be eager to work with. Keeping this message in company communication or on posters around the office can help to make it a second nature thought for the sales team and build a beneficial morale in the office.
Sales can be a difficult profession, but if businesses dedicate the right time and resources to their sales teams, they'll see the benefits every quarter.