Sales can be an inexact science when it comes to contributing to business growth and as an engine of economic expansion and business development. There are too many variables involved in the whole sales process, which can impact upon the ability to secure a deal - and ultimately the capacity to add extra revenue to the bottom line.
But, unsurprisingly, it’s usually the quality (or lack of quality) of sales people and sales teams which can be the defining factor in whether or not a customer decides to place its business with you. So, while not everyone has the innate skills and talent to be a first class sales person, there are some simple but effective steps, which can be taken to help improve the dynamics of the sales function.
These have been captured and refined in our proven sales methodology ‘Selling at a Higher Level’, which many of our clients such as Anglia Ruskin University, accessplanit and online assessment company The Test Factory, have embedded into the way they work in order to unlock the potential of their sales and non-sales people and equip them with the skills and confidence that make a measurable difference to commercial performance.
1. The five-step path to success starts by understanding durhamlane’s first sales mantra ‘Business fit, business value, developing long-term relationships’. To be successful in sales and business, people need to understand how they fit in with the customer and identify the added value they can offer before making an approach. It may sound simple, but too often this basic tenet is overlooked in the headlong pursuit to secure sales volume rather than quality.
2. While keeping the wheel of new customer generation turning is vital, developing long-term relationships with current customers is also paramount. It may seem like common sense but nurturing your customers will be far more satisfying and is proven to be eight to 10 times more cost effective than securing quick wins which may look good when it comes to achieving targets but offer little, if any real long term value. After all, it is usually easier to sell to someone again once they have already experienced buying from you.
3. When it comes to preparing your sales proposal think it through very carefully. Identify and understand the important stakeholders in the decision-making process, before presenting a recommendation that has genuine value and offers a compelling message as to why the customer should buy your product or service over that of a competitor’s proposition. Make sure the value of your offering, and the expected returns, are presented clearly and the benefits to the customer are unequivocal and unambiguous.
4. Too often, people forget to ‘ask’ for the business, so again make sure you close your pitch politely but positively, outlining the next steps, contractual arrangements and how you will move forward to develop a joint vision of success with the customer.
5. And once all this in place, identify measurement criteria and start planning for success as you target opportunities for growth through other value added projects.
Written by Lee Durham, partner at Newcastle-based sales consultancy, training and outsourcing services firm durhamlane