Now before you get upset at that statement hang on for a second, I just needed your attention. If it was easy the word turnover would not exist. It’s been documented to cost anywhere from $75,000 up to $500,000 to hire the wrong salesperson.
I’m going to talk in terms of your marketing team because sales is a function that would generally fall under the umbrella of marketing. The problem is that you may try to separate the two disciplines, and they are disciplines. But let us not get off track of our main point, picking winners for your team.
We’ll keep this focus on the people out doing face-to-face marketing/sales. Your marketing/sales team is responsible for the lifeblood of cash flow that makes your business work. Without cash coming in the door everything will cease to exist as you know it.
As I work with small business owners like yourself I find that many times they base their hiring decisions on the person having industry experience, they either sold a product or a service, and they liked them. Those three hiring criteria are a recipe for disaster.
What does someone working in your industry have to do with being a successful person doing sales for your company? How many times have you seen someone bounce around from company to company in the same industry and always be a ‘B’ level, or worse a ‘C’ level performer? We’ll pretend for a minute that A players are the best, B players are good, and C players are on the verge of their next job. You want to aim for A players, and B players with A potential….ideally.
So what do you do first? Great question, let me give you some guidance here. I’m going to share a list of questions you need to ask yourself.
- What kind of people, or where in the organization will the salesperson call on prospective clients?
- What kind of technical knowledge will the salesperson need to have?
- Will it be a product, service, or combination
- Will the salesperson be creating demand or fulfilling demand?
- What quantity of products or services need to be sold?
- Is the selling cycle less than 6-months or longer?
- Will the person service existing accounts (Farm), or bring in new business (Hunt)?
- Will the person sell as a one person operation or as a member of a team?
- Will the sales person work out of an office, or be in the field?
- Will the person be on their own, or will you be baby-sitting?
So how do you put this into action in your company? Copy and paste these questions into a word document and then answer each question. The reason you are answering these questions is to help you decide exactly what your ideal candidate will do, with who, when, how often, where, why, and what.
By focusing on this area of small business growth you can really start building your team. Your marketing/sales team is your limiting and maximizing factor in your business. The right team can make life in your business great, and the wrong team can…well, you know:
This first step is so vital because you now know what you want someone to do. Think of this, if I ask you to shoot at a target can you do it? Maybe, but wouldn’t you need to know what the target looked like, and where it was? You’re darn right you would. Answering the ten questions about what you want your ideal candidate to do will give you the target you need.
Now go and take action on this one part of your small business growth this week. Each day, week, month, year, and you will be adding small bricks to build your business. Over time you’ll have built a great foundation that will prosper.
How To Improve Your Customer Relationship In Business
Customers are important to your business because, without them, you wouldn’t be making any money. Some businesses often neglect their customers, particularly those who’ve been loyal to the company for a while. So, here’s a few ways to improve your customer relationship for your business.
Easy Ways To Communicate
There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer to have no way of communicating with a business. Some companies, particularly delivery services will have an automated messaging service and no way of talking to someone physically on the phone. Nowadays, this can be extremely damaging to a company because if you’re making life harder for a customer to get answers to their problems, they won’t stick around. Especially when there are so many other businesses who will more than happily accept your customers with open arms.
So in order to help save you losing them, make sure you have a phone number, email and registered address so that customers from all walks of life can get in touch due to a variety of options being available. Social media is a great way of talking to customers directly and vice versa so it might be worth considering having a dedicated individual or team that can handle social media queries.
Listen To Their Issues
Just like a lack of communication, customers hate not feeling valued, especially if they’ve been loyal to your brand for a long time. So it’s necessary to listen to their concerns and issues whenever they address them. Word of mouth is a powerful tool which can either make or break a business. So make it a priority to go above and beyond the call of duty for your customers and they’ll certainly notice it when you do.
Keep Their Personal Data Safe
There no denying that as more and more of us, use the online world, the threat of cyber attacks and data breaches are very real. It’s no surprise that customers are wary of responding to suspicious-looking emails and storing personal information with a company. It’s therefore important that you take every step necessary to ensure that your customer’s data is kept safe.
Obviously, nothing is guaranteed but having strong security systems in place is one way of reassuring them that you are conscious of their data.
Other ways to avoid a data breach and cyber attacks can be avoiding weak passwords or using passwords that relate to the company in some way. Teaching your staff members to be vigilant and have the knowledge needed to spot potentially harmful websites or emails they go on or receive.
Ask For Feedback
There are always ways to improve when it comes to your business and those who know your company best are your customers. They see problems where you might not see them, and this can sometimes make a huge difference in the rate at which your company grows over time.
Asking for feedback is a great way to make your customer feel included in the growth of the business, and its free advice! Create a survey or feedback form in which you can distribute to your email list or display on your website so that customers both new and old can give suggestions on how particular services, products, etc can be improved.
Constructive criticism should always be welcome, regardless of how established a business may be. You don’t have to act on this advice but it’s worth noting. Don’t be afraid to take chances and risks in your business.
Get To Know Them
Traditional forms of media only offer you so much in the way of who engages with your content, campaigns and other advertising or marketing projects.
Now, however, there’s technology available to get in-depth analysis of your customers and potential customers. But when it comes to spark vs mapreduce as two examples, how do you choose which one is best for your company?
While both of them fulfill the same purpose of data analytic, one might work better for you than the other. So it’s recommended to do your research.
These systems allow you to get a more detailed account of your visitors whether that’s on your website or through social media. You can see age categories, geographic locations, and interests to name but a few.
This is helpful in tailoring your future marketing and advertising so that it hits your target audience more specifically.
Customer relationships are a constant element of the business that should always come first. Value each and every one of them, and you’ll hopefully have customers who’ll stay with your business for years to come.
Direct-Selling Businesses: The Myths and the Truths
When it comes to business models that few people truly get, it’s hard to beat direct selling. In reality, many direct-selling businesses are reputable and offer people from all backgrounds and interests a way to earn some nice money – either as their main gig or a side hustle. But sometimes people hear “direct sales” and think “multi-level marketing scam” and run.
To clear up some of these myths about direct-selling businesses, as well as discuss the truths associated with how the business model works, consider the following points:
Direct Selling 101
In a nutshell, direct selling refers to selling products directly to a customer in a non-retail place. Sales usually happen at home, at a party or at work. The products go from the manufacturer to the direct sales company, where they are sent to the person who is selling them-often called a “distributor,” “independent business owner” or “rep,”- and then to the buyer.
In most cases, these items cannot be found in stores; they have to be purchased via the direct-selling method. The independent business owner will sell the items either one-on-one-this can be through an in-person presentation or even going door to door-or they can have a group sales setting like a party.
Direct Sales are Not Always MLMs
One of the most common myths regarding direct selling is the assumption that all direct sales companies use multi-level marketing (MLM) methods. Direct sellers make money when they sell a company’s products. MLM sellers earn income on commissions from products sold, and also from the sales made by other business partners who they recruit into the company.
Is Direct Selling a Pyramid Scheme?
A pyramid scheme can seem similar to multi-level marketing, only it’s far more sinister and typically illegal. Pyramid schemes require you to invest a ton of money up front to become a distributor, and the main goal seems to be in getting other people to sign up to work for the company. Single-level direct selling does not do this-people are not required to shell out big bucks to purchase items up front, nor are they asked to recruit others.
For example, Amway is a global direct sales company that offers home, health and beauty products. According to it’s website, its “IBOs make money through the sale of products … and don’t make any money by bringing more people in – not a single cent.” So is Amway a pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing company? No, it’s neither. As you research other direct sales companies, look for these key features to differentiate between business models.
Direct Selling is for Everyone
Another persistent rumor about direct selling is that it’s only done by stay-at-home moms. Although there are plenty of moms who sell products to earn some money while working around their family’s schedule, lots of people from all types of backgrounds are distributors as well. Many are college students, or adults with full-time jobs who are earning some extra money on the side.
Debunking the Myths
While some of the myths surrounding direct sales may persist for awhile, you now know the complete truth about this great way to earn income. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to become a rep-whether it’s as a hobby or a full-time job, direct selling is an honest and flexible way to make money.
Effective Sales Prospecting Techniques You Should Be Using
Prospecting is a key process for any business, finding those unqualified leads and nurturing them to be happy customers. But for something that sounds so simple on paper, it can be tricky to know if you’ve really done everything you can, or if there are more effective ways of getting better results. Here are a few of our favorite techniques.
Yes, prospecting is a key part of the sales process — but it isn’t selling. When you’re first reaching out to leads, the last thing you want to do is scare them away with a hard sell.
The original prospectors would sift through the mud and stones to find gold, but they weren’t the ones who refined and crafted the gold. That was someone else’s job.
In the same way, your job is to find the ‘gold’ prospects, nothing more or less. In most cases, there’ll be someone else who’ll do the selling, but even if you’re a solo salesperson it’s important to have a clear distinction between the prospecting and the selling.
Instead, your first contact with a prospect should have only two key objectives:
- To provide value
- To pave the way for a second contact
If your pitch is all about you and how awesome you are, your prospects aren’t going to be impressed. Instead, spell out exactly what’s in it for them. You need to provide actual value right there, or at the very least make it clear what value you can provide in the future.
Then, rather than closing your message with the hard sell, aim to start a conversation. A great way of doing this is asking a sincere question to open up a dialogue. No rhetorical, obvious questions here, please.
Sound like a human being, not a cheesy infomercial.
How are you dealing with ?
Are you ready to start winning and stop being a loser?
Mix it up
We all have our favorite methods of communication. Unfortunately, that can often blind us to other methods when it comes to prospecting. Whether you prefer getting in touch with your prospects via email, phone calls, social media or carrier pigeon, you need to consider several factors.
First of all, each method has its own strengths and weaknesses. Cold calling is great for getting attention, but many people will screen their calls and may not be open to approach that way.
Email prospecting can easily be scaled up to massive numbers, but it’s also easily ignored. Social media may be great for specific markets, but your ideal prospects may not even be on the network. And while everyone loves carrier pigeon, they may take a long time to reach your prospect (even longer if they have a cat).
Different methods will work better for different prospects, but it’s usually difficult to know the best way beforehand. That’s why we recommend mixing up your approach and getting in touch using different methods.
The two most effective methods have proven to be emails and phone calls, so start with those. For example, use a phone call for your first attempt, then follow up with an email, alternating until you get a response.
Using sales prospecting tools
One of the top sales prospecting mistakes is trying to do all the work yourself. It’s essential to keep it personal when it comes to your prospecting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it easier and reach more people with the right tools.
There’s a lot of services that’ll take care of the manual, time-consuming tasks, leaving you to personalize the important parts.
For example, you could use:
- Email verification tools to quickly verify long lists of email addresses,
- Data enhancement apps to find out more about your prospects before you get in touch,
- Email automation software like Reply to send effective prospecting emails at scale.
Additionally, you could use cold email prospecting email templates or cold calling scripts, to make sure you’re never stuck staring at a blank page or wondering what to say next.
Of course, it’s important to do your research before you decide on your tools. Have a clear idea of your prospecting process, and identify any parts that are time-consuming or difficult to scale manually. Ask fellow prospectors for their recommendations.
Check out any available reviews and testimonials. Just as you wouldn’t try to build a house with your bare hands, neither should you try and build an effective prospecting funnel without using any tools.
Segmenting like a pro
If all this talk of automated prospecting has you wondering how you can possibly keep things personal, segmentation is essential.
If you have a clear idea of who your prospects are (based on hard data, rather than assumptions), you’ll soon start to see distinct groups emerge. These might be across industry, job title, behavior, location, or other demographics.
Group your prospects
Start breaking down your prospects into these groups, imagining as you go that you’re separating them into different physical rooms. Maybe one of your rooms contains C-level management who you’ve contacted before and are based in Europe, while the next room contains salespeople from America who’ve never heard of you.
Now, imagine standing in front of one of those rooms and talking to them. Are some people looking confused, maybe even falling asleep, wondering whether what you’re saying has anything to do with them? Then you should consider segmenting further.
On the other hand, is everyone in the audience nodding along, certain you’re talking personally to them and them alone? That’s the power of good segmentation, which leaves your prospects with an uncanny feeling you were reading their mind.
Each prospect on your list is unique, but not as unique as they may think. By segmenting them into groups with common traits, you can talk to them personally, but on a larger scale.
There are many more prospecting techniques you can use. However, by making sure you’re not going immediately for the hard sell, mixing up your contact methods, using sales prospecting tools and segmenting your list, you’ll have a solid foundation to your next prospecting campaign.
4 ways sales automation improves efficiency through data visibility
Sales automation software delivers a huge amount of data for B2B organizations to analyze. When provided with this information, field sales reps can make informed and educated sales decisions as well as providing beneficial advice to your customers.
Due to the large increase in CPG brands and wholesalers using sales automation tools, managers and CEO’s have more data available to them than ever before and many rely on this new wealth of data to help their sales teams thrive.
Let’s look at how…
1. Focus on the right sales activities
The best sales reps know that to increase revenue they must focus on adding value, by prioritizing the right opportunities with the right products, at the right time. How do they do this? Using a sales automation tool such as mobile CRM allows them access to relevant information telling them exactly who to visit.
Sales tools such as a sales order app automates sales tasks providing more time to meet high value clients face-to-face and more.
In addition, automating data entry reduces inefficiency and errors and real-time visibility helps companies identify problems and risks early so they can address them before they erupt into major and expensive crises.
2. Customer experience is the top sales benchmark
The B2B buyer has changed beyond recognition. Millennial customers are sophisticated and knowledgeable about the product they want by doing their own online research before they even meet a sales rep.
Because of their familiarity with advanced B2C sales cycles, they want and expect smarter and smoother B2B sales experiences, and they want sales reps that act more like personal consultants to address their individual challenges and solve them.
Although the priority for sales reps is closing the deal, the most successful ones also know that it’s vital to maintain long-term customers through memorable purchasing experiences.
Sales automation helps by providing a 360˚ view and personalized picture of every customer to ensure they are each provided with the experience they expect.
3. Collaboration between departments
To provide an excellent customer experience also requires cross-collaboration between all departments. It’s no good providing a seamless order-taking experience, only for the wrong delivery to turn up. Sales software provides the platform for all your sales tools providing complete visibility into the customer journey.
With consistent data, everyone can be responsible, respond quicker and more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.
It’s no longer acceptable for different departments to operate in siloes, a B2B sales platform will connect, sync data in real-time, improving efficiency and speeding up your entire sales workflow.
Sales software has multiple benefits especially when it comes to providing a large amount of data to increase sales. Adaptation is important, but sales teams need not fear. To build relationships, they will always be needed to be in front of the customer, understanding their needs and more.
3 Motivational Sales Meeting Ideas That Will Transform Sales Performance
As you approach sales kickoff time, you’re probably putting all the final touches in place to ensure another great event — you’re finalising ideas for the theme and content, checking you have the right entertainment organised and making sure you have the speakers booked. After all, the sales kickoff meeting sets the tone for the year ahead.
But while many salespeople will be looking forward to the annual get-together, there will be many more who dislike taking time away from the office and their families for the sake of what they perceive to be long days in rooms with no windows, watching the same people win accolades that they can’t ever seem to attain.
Publicly acknowledging an organisation’s top sellers is a common element of most sales kickoff meetings, but it can leave your hard-working mid-range salespeople feeling despondent. After all, they’re putting in just as many hours as those salespeople up on stage, but they’re not being invited to President’s Club.
Of course, training is key to helping those mid-range sellers “level up”, but you can’t expect to achieve a total transformation in a one or two-day sales kickoff meeting. Instead, consider your sales kickoff meeting as an opportunity to get them off to the right start, using these three motivational sales meeting ideas.
1) Find a Theme That Is Constructive
There are plenty of sales kickoff themes that are essentially meaningless. For all the heart-pumping appeal of a Daft Punk song they possess, vague sentiments like “Better. Stronger. Faster” are unlikely to provide much motivation for your mid-range salespeople.
It’s easy to get carried away with coloured balloons and fun goody bags, but it’s important to remember not to choose a theme just because you need a slogan for this year’s T-shirt. Themes enable you to weave all the events, training and content of your sales kickoff meeting into a cohesive narrative. Narratives help us engage with materials, meaning we are better able to recall those materials over a long period.
We know about using storytelling techniques for sales and ensuring our customers can see themselves in the stories we tell. In the case of the sales kickoff, you have to think of the salespeople as your customers and make sure that they can see themselves in the narrative you’ve created.
If you’re focused on a “superhero” salesperson, make sure it’s clear to your mid-range sellers exactly how they can become that person — otherwise, you risk further disengagement.
2) Use Your Top Sellers to Motivate Your Mid-Range Salespeople
Typically, a sales kickoff meeting will include at least one networking opportunity per day, which might be dinner, golf or some other “non-work” event.
Before the meeting begins, make it clear to your top performers that you expect them to use these opportunities to meet and talk to the “up and comers”. They don’t need to share their worldly wisdom there and then, but relationships forged at the sales kickoff can pay dividends in mentorships throughout the year.
If you don’t trust that this will happen naturally, make it happen. For example, you could create a table plan for dinner that puts possible pairings together. You could even hold a special event exclusively for salespeople who show a lot of potential, hosted by the top sellers, with the intention of pairing up mentors and mentees.
Sales coaching is a proven means of improving sales performance, and who better to coach your sales team than those already excelling at their job?
3) Ditch the Slide Shows for Panel Discussions
If you have access to a motivational speaker who will take the time to create something that really speaks to your business — great. If not, consider replacing their slot with a really juicy panel discussion — or a couple, if you can.
Watching one person on a stage can make the audience passive. If it’s a great speaker, we might get fired up for a moment, but the great ones are few and far between. Watching an interactive discussion is far more engaging. It encourages us to consider our own responses to the questions on the table.
A panel discussion that accepts questions from the audience is even better.
Who could your panel include? Consider the following:
- Top sellers — sharing what works for them, best practices, success stories, etc.
- C-suite executives — discussing brand vision, appraising the year that’s passed and looking to the future.
- Happy customers — talking about why your company has been important to their success, providing insight as to what was helpful to them throughout their buying process, etc.
- A formerly unhappy customer — wouldn’t it be interesting to hear from someone who could talk about what went wrong and how it was put right?
- An average Joe/Jo field-salesperson — it’s equally important to have a ground-floor perspective to represent the viewpoint of the majority of the attendees.
If you go down this path, remember to appoint a separate moderator. This task might be best outsourced to a professional, as it’s a real skill to direct and share a group discussion while avoiding having four people answering the same question.
However you celebrate your achievements at your 2019 sales kickoff, don’t forget that the majority of your salespeople are not at the top of the leaderboard — but they all have the potential to get there with the right training and motivation.
4 Ways Our Sales And Marketing Almost Failed
The sales and marketing teams are the lifeblood of your organisation. They are your reason that customers find their way to your brand and convert into loyal fans. These are the people who have direct contact with the outside world to try and demonstrate to them what you have to offer and what sets you aside from the rest.
So, what happens if you are seeing a bit of a lag in customer acquisition or sales? What happens if the sales aren’t coming in like they used to, or if leads are really starting to become few and far between? I took a look at what happened in my organisation and thought I would share some of my fixes that I made to get those sales up again.
Keep in mind, a full analysis of your organisation is needed in order to ascertain just where the problem is, but it doesn’t hurt knowing where you can start looking!
Trying To Do Everything Ourselves
We had to take a step back, swallow our pride and realize that we simply couldn’t do it all ourselves. We have young, bright minds on our team, but the team is still quite young. So, we decided to outsource our internet marketing function. Let me rephrase, we brought in an agency to take over our digital marketing for a while to get us a step up.
This is what we got out of it.
- We learnt a few things from them. Being absolute experts, we found ourselves learning quite a lot from them and we could start implementing that in our own methods once the contract expired;
- We got a chance to focus on other avenues. With them taking care of a time-consuming function, we could build foundations in other areas that would have been impossible to do;
- They provided much needed unique ideas. Suddenly we had so many new concepts and ideas that we decided to do a full rebrand, based primarily on unique thought.
We Weren’t Actually Listening To Our Client
We had a set strategy in place. A set marketing plan, concrete content plan, scripted sales calls and a mapped-out plan to deal with our customers. The problem is, customers are not robots. Customers are actually real live, feeling, breathing people. Shocking right?
Our lesson came one day when we lost one of the hottest leads we had received in months. It would have been a massive deal. Everyone in the company was excited. At the last minute, the sale fell through and we all went into shock. What had happened?
It turned out that the customer had requested some personalized additions to be added to the sale. With a bit of innovation and a little bit of hard work from our side, we could have actually lived up to their expectations and delivered their requirements.
This is where we learnt the valuable lesson to actually listen to our customers, hear what they want and act on it! Chances are that if one customer wants personalization, that product will appeal to other customers too!
We immediately started implementing a system where we reached out to our customers and asked for their feedback. We sent out surveys asking them why they loved our services, why they didn’t, what we could have done differently, what more they expected from us. The results were astounding and based on them, we could go back and start making the vital changes that needed to be made.
Customer Experience Management Was Just A Phrase
We realized, especially after the loss of this huge potential client, that the two customer-facing points in our company had no customer experience management knowledge. They were not able to identify what the customer’s needs were, be innovative and meet the requirements. And why should they, they were used to working solely on scripts.
The company had to take a huge step into mapping the customer journey and developing every single one of the touch points. In order to do so, we hired a customer experience professional who was able to come in and spend every hour working on the customer’s happiness and loyalty.
Our mission was to surprise and delight the customer from the minute they made contact with our brand. This meant that every single touchpoint needed to be optimized, each team needed to communicate with each other. The flow of information about the customer, their needs and their expectations had to be managed perfectly. Every communication process within the team needed that bit of hard work to make sure that our customers become loyal to the brand. With this information flowing from customer entry right through to acquisition, their needs were effectively managed and we could live up to their expectations.
We Actually Didn’t Know Who Our Customer Was
Another key lesson that we took out of losing this great customer was that we simply didn’t have our finger on the pulse of who our customer was. As much as we wanted them to have a great experience, how could we if we didn’t even know who they were!
We decided to take a deep dive into our customer mapping in order to understand our customer. Understanding demographics, their wants, needs and expectations allows you to have a full view of who you are targeting and who you are speaking to. You will then be able to create a message that will speak directly to them!
We also started monitoring their behaviour to identify what they were about to do next. Where they going to upgrade, had they been with us long enough that we could cross-sell them? Or were they about to churn? This was vital, as losing existing customers was having a huge impact on our income. We needed to understand why customers were churning and what was the main signs that they were about to quit the brand. Once we had this, we could reach out to them with an offer that they couldn’t refuse.
It has taken us two years to evolve the organisation and its unique elements, and it is still very much a work in progress. What was vital to us was making sure that our current customers didn’t drop away as we worked out that finding new customers is more costly than keeping existing customers on board. It is not going to be an overnight success. But, in the end, it will be worth those high-paying loyal fans!
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