Marketing is a Science. After 23 years of recruiting sales people, training sales managers, building businesses, and reading hundreds of books, I have narrowed down the following seven (7) critical areas that need to be mastered, for sustained sales growth:
1. Positioning / Branding / Differentiation:
Effectively answering the most important question in the prospect's mind, "Why should I do business with you (and not your competitor)?" is crucial. So is, a strong "Sales Posture". Salespeople without a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) often have to resort to price cutting. Begging for business is not a viable sales strategy. Remember, the prospect's mind works on the WIIFM principle ("What's in It For Me?").
2. Potent Sales Scripts:
Scientifically written, natural sounding and emotionally compiling scripts for Sales Prospecting / Pre-Qualifying, Sales Presentation, Object Handling, Sales Closing, Following up and FAQs are vital. Good sales scripts will help your salespeople stay on track, ask the right questions, and "sail" into the Close! A written script can also help you train new sales people quickly, and convey a consistently professional image of the company.
3. Cutting Edge Sales Tools:
An "Info Kit" (PDF for emailing, snail-mailing and faxing) is often a must. It should be scientifically designed to push the right Emotional Hot Buttons, and incorporate a strong "Call to Action". Prospect Databases, a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, clearly defined "Steps to the Sale" with corresponding "Actions" logged in the CRM are also important. A good website is a big help.
4. Hire the Right Sales People:
Good sales professionals are very rare and often hard to find. The JOY Tests ™ of Total Sales Ability ™ from Dan Joy, Inc., can help you hire the best salespeople (Top 2%), retain them longer, as well as grow your sales! They can also help you avoid costly hiring errors. In the past, sales assessment tools were used primarily by large companies. Now, the fully integrated online sales assessment testing system of Dan Joy, Inc. has welcomed these critical sales assessment tools within the easy reach of small to mid-sized businesses, but large companies can use them too. Dan Joy, Inc. Offers 10 Free Sales Assessments to qualified businesses (see the link in the Author's Bio / Resource Box below).
5. Good Sales Leadership:
Selling is one of the hardest things. It is both physically demanding (long hours) and emotionally draining (facing rejection continuously). Having your sales team report to someone who has never sold for a living is usually not a good idea. I have seen sales people report to a "non-sales" Plant Manager, CFO, Production Manager, Office Manager, etc., and that is often a recipe for disaster. Regular Sales Meetings (at least once a week), Role Playing (practicing the scripts, objection handling, etc.), Sales Training, Sales Goals expressed in terms of controllable actions (important), ongoing accountability, metrics, reward / correction, motivation / inspiration are all extremely important.
6. Continual Lead Generation:
Your salespeople must always have "several irons in the fire" so they do not pin all their hopes on just one sale coming through (or feeling dejected if it does not). Multiple sales should be "brewing" at all times. A good, consistent, ongoing Leads Generation program should be in place (Direct Mail, eMarketing, Advertising, Press Releases, etc). If you have a good product or service, get the word out proactively, in large numbers.
Observing what is working and what is not, and making ongoing course corrections is vital. Not to mention studying the competition, monitoring the markets, and innovating to stay ahead. Retaining good salespeople is sometimes harder than recruiting them, but rewarding them right and compensating them fairly would go a long way.
You wanted to know how to increase sales – this is what it will take. If you want to increase sales or grow a business long term even in a recession or down economy, you must master these seven critical areas. This advice and sales tips can help you increase sales revenue steadily. Growing a business requires hard work in addition to just smart work. The sales growth advice above applies to entrepreneurs, small businesses as well as large companies who wish to grow their sales, even though the scale of implementation might differ.