The 4 Key Sales Activities There are 4 things that Mercuri's 50 years of experience have taught us are critical to sales success. Although there is a time lag between activity and result, by implementing these key factors you can dramatically improve your likelihood of securing your result for this year. Focus on ACTIVITY rather than Results There is a great temptation to spend all your waking management time thinking about a shortfall in results. This is natural. We all do it! However, it doesn‟t actually bring in any more business. So is there a better area to think about? Well yes Sales Activity is what drives the Result! For Sales People and Sales Managers the pursuit of the optimum Quantity, Direction and Quality of Activity can improve Results generation quickly. How? Well firstly if you have accurate conversion ratios and average order values then you can calculate with some accuracy how many extra sales prospects you need in order to improve Results. Now you are getting some control of the situation. The next port of call is to assess how much activity (warm up mail shots, appointment making phone calls, and sales visits) you are likely to need in order to convert each prospect into a likely order. This will show you how much extra activity you need, but of course the constraints will be the amount of time that you have and the numbers of sales people involved. With a reasonably well motivated team, a short, high profile and well planned campaign of extra activity can close many a gap between sales achieved and the target figure. Select the RIGHT opportunities and ensure the RIGHT salespeople approach them If the above sounds like a recipe for loads of unsuccessful activity, then let‟s deal with that problem now. Sales People under pressure will tend to adopt the “Martini Sales Principle: Anytime, Any Place Anywhere.” This is almost always counter productive. So what can be done differently? Firstly, only call on companies where there is a real likelihood of success. This means using specific and consistent criteria for targeting new business opportunities applying them rigorously and ensuring sales managers monitor this aspect of the sales process. Pursuits are then only started on prospects who have met the criteria. The best place to start is by examining your current “best customers,” defining the characteristics that make them the best and then researching prospects with those specific characteristics. So you have good prospects, what then? Develop a prioritised „engagement‟ plan for each of these opportunities and ensure it‟s delivered by your best sellers. This will increase your sales conversion and lower your sales costs as well as contribute to the enhanced motivation of your most effective “players.” Make your solution ESSENTIAL rather than just desirable. So when you have targeted the best prospects with the most effective activities, what will you sell them when you get there? The most appropriate solution is the obvious answer but doesn‟t that just mean the right combination of products and services? Well yes and no! If your Sales People are not defining the decision making process, criteria and the timescales for a decision then it doesn‟t matter how well constructed your solution is you are unlikely to get a “Yes” when you really need one! So what can be done? An understanding of the decision making process together with the prospects key business drivers gives you the opportunity to link your solution to the business success of the potential customer. Done well, this can persuade the customer to implement your solution as a matter of urgency and hence reduce the sales lead times. In addition, if the prospect sees that you are taking their issues seriously and not just your own, then a profitable relationship could be the result! Fish where the fishes are! So now an effective plan is emerging, what can go wrong? Well we mentioned the limiting factors of time and human resources above. It is quite possible that it may be impossible to do everything that you would like to do! So now for the heresy: Deselect some of the prospects! If time is short and/or tight then doing a lot of activity of insufficient quality may make the situation worse! It may be time to revisit your Selection Criteria and make them more demanding. This will mean that you have developed a set of priority prospects and released some time from potentially unsuccessful pursuits. So you can now focus this released time with your best new prospects and still have time to realize potential from within your existing Customer roster. Be demanding about the priorities here too! Select the most appropriate existing customers where you believe there is untapped potential (the Selection Critieria will be more than handy here too) arrange business review meetings with your Main Contacts and AGREE TOGETHER what will motivate them to increase their spend with you in the coming months. You may be pleasantly surprised, especially if the “account manager” asks the question in the right way! So finally, are the above factors a guarantee of success? Well again the answer is “yes and no.” Engaging with these activities will improve your current situation, results and possibly the morale and motivation of your sales force. But that is not a guarantee. Mercuri International helps thousands of companies like yours every year with an unbeatable combination of the right tools, best practice and common sense! If you would like further information on successfully implementing these aspects of sales improvement, please contact Mercuri International using the details on the right hand side of this page.
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