The four practices of effective salespeople will contribute to an improvement in your sales, if utilized by your sales staff. Oftentimes, many managers are not clear on why their sales have increased or decreased. They ask themselves “Have the company’s sales improved because our products and services are better than our competitors? Is the economy our benefactor? Or maybe, our salesforce is just that good.” Maybe the sales movement is a combination of some or all of the answers to those questions. What is clear is that salespeople who practice: building strong relationships, gathering intelligence, persevering through adversity, and searching out win-win solutions will increase your sales.
Build Strong Relationships with Yours Customers
Many years ago, when I worked at a major oil company, we planned our gasoline and oil sales fifteen months in advance. One year in particular, my company decided to launch a mid-grade motor oil in May with a full year sale’s plan. My opportunity came when one of my multi-site Dealers, with whom I had a great relationship, ordered a half trailer of our high-end synthetic motor oil. A Sales Representative missing his or her oil goal was a career ender, so I asked if he would consider switching the high-end synthetic oil for the new mid-grade oil. I explained the benefits of the new oil and he tentatively said okay.
Weeks later, the Dealer invited me to lunch. After we finished eating, the Dealer told me he had something to show me at the station. By this time, I had totally forgotten about the mid-grade oil order, but my memory was quickly refreshed when I saw the trailer full of mid-grade motor oil. Moments later, I was being cursed out by my most valued Dealer. He explained, that his mechanics could not sell this new oil and he was stuck with it.
I was determined to make good on the order by helping him sell the oil. I worked on oil promotions for the next three months and eventually he sold all of the new mid-grade motor oil. In the end, he made more money and so did the company. Now, this is just an old sales story. It was my relationship with the Dealer that allowed me to switch the order, and ensured I did everything to make sure he sold that oil, so I would have this story to tell. Our working relationship helped me make my sales goal that year and my determination that he would not suffer financially strengthened our relationship.
Gather Intelligence from Your Customers and the Marketplace
I owned a business in which various Sales Representatives would call on me many of them carried the same or similar products at the same or very similar price. I determined who received the sale based on relationship, but for many of my competitors the sale went to the Sales Rep. who was sitting in front of them. In order to close the sale in these cases, the Sales Reps must know the sale sell through or, usage rates of their products and the company’s lead time needs.
Sales representatives who sell high ticket durable goods such as commercial trucks, software packages or machinery must truly understand the sales intelligence behind the products they sell. Here are three important points for Sales Representatives to understand for each customer:
1) Buying Process – What is the process the purchasing agent or customer uses to make a decision and how long does it take?
2) Product Knowledge – What are benefits and concerns of your product(s) as well as the competitive products? How long is the product’s life cycle?
3) Customer Knowledge – How well do you understand your customer’s business or their modus operandi? How well do you know your customer’s lifestyle, needs and wants, if your customer is an individual?
You will be more effective in reaching your sales goals with more information, whether your customer is a business or an individual.
Persevere Through Adversity
People want to say yes. It brings them joy to make a deal and buy something from you. But the process of getting to yes, is not always easy. Early in my career, I managed a sales territory where I needed to know each customer’s sell through rate to meet my sales goals.
One day during a sales call, I approached my franchisee ready to take an order. After all, this call was going to be easy because according to my calculations their product levels should be running low by now. When I asked for the sale the first time, I was taken to the warehouse and shown the large quantity of my product in inventory. Unbeknownst to me, the owner’s sales were off. Unfazed, I simply stated that he knew that he was going to move my product and asked for the sale again. Rejection. I changed the subject to why his sales were off. We discussed many opportunities he had for improvement. I asked again. No luck. I asked three more times in one way or another and received the same answer. No. Now, I had gotten the message.
I was getting into my car to leave and flippantly said “you know you want me to put in that order” and to my surprise he said “yes”. I learned a lesson that day to never give up on the sale. I wouldn’t have gotten the sale, if I had given up after asking the fourth, fifth or sixth time.. On numerous occasions, I pushed through noes, insults and objections and still got the sale. I persevered and so can you.
Search Out Win-Win Solutions
No one likes to be taken advantage of in business or in life. Win-Lose situations erodes trust and is not good for the winner or the loser. Sometimes, you will have to think outside the box to find a Win-Win solution.
One year in December, I had reached all of my sales goals, but my Area Manager had not reached all of his sales goals. On our sales ride that day, we had lunch with a Dealer. I had already sold this Dealer all the product he needed. It was my Area Manager’s intention to sell enough product during this lunch to make his numbers.. Unfortunately for my Area Manager his bullying tactics wasn’t working and he was getting frustrated.
I had a solution. I knew that the Dealer had some large weeds and rubbish behind his building that he wanted cleaned out. He wanted to put a storage container there to free up some space. I suggested to my boss that we pay to have that area cleaned out and that maybe the Dealer would agree to buy the necessary product. Both my boss and the Dealer agreed. It was a Win-Win solution. Sure my boss had to spend of his discretionary funds to clear the area behind the building, but he was still under budget for that line item. As for Dealer, he received something he wanted for years and a place to store all that new product.
The point is, sometimes you have to broaden your concept of the deal and search out the Win-Win solutions to get the sale.
Consistently achieving sales goals does not occur by happenstance. It happens because salespeople:
1) Build Strong Relationships with their customers.
2) Gather Intelligence from customers and the marketplace.
3) Persevere through Adversity.
4) Search out Win-Win solutions.
On some sales calls, the Salesperson might use more than one of these strategies on the same call. if your sales staff utilizes these four strategies your sales will improve. Contact us if you would like to further learn the strategies.
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