It’s a tough time to be in sales – no matter what your business. Whether you’re in a business-to- business service industry, or your customers are mostly individual consumers, you know that people remain reluctant to open their checkbooks. Closing a sale can take much longer, and therefore it can be difficult to keep your sales force motivated to go out and sell.
Sometimes there’s a tendency in a tough economy to “come down hard” on the sales force, demanding more calls and hours in the hopes of generating additional sales. But it is better to inspire than to threaten; and inspiring your team to accomplish more when times are tough will have an additional bonus – it will inspire and motivate you too.
Remember, working smarter always brings in better results than working harder, and no matter what the economy, the basics of good selling remains the same. Now is the right time for you and your sales force to brush up on those sales basics.
How can you help? Don’t just talk about the features of your product, instead, learn your customers’ needs. Customers remain bottom line-focused, and are probably not planning on spending any more money than they must to achieve their goals. This means you need to find out about their pain points – what is keeping them up at night? – and explain to them how you can make that pain disappear. For instance, how can using your product or service increase their bottom line? Make sure you and your sales team understand the client’s needs and have real-world examples of how you can help them.
Focus on relationships. If you're in a consulting or service-oriented business you know that it's about building relationships. But selling a product also requires the sale person build relationships. Remember, it’s easier to obtain a repeat sale than it is to develop a new customer – and that’s where relationships come into play. Make sure that you and your sales team take the time to build customer relationships. Inspire your team to see themselves not as order-takers, but as a helping hand to your customers.
Be tenacious. The average sales person gives up after three or four calls to one prospect, but studies show that it takes at least eight contacts with a potential client to make a sale. The best sales people don’t give up. Do you have some of these tenacious sales people in your office? Make sure you hold them up to the rest of your sales force as great examples of how to do it right.
Get your sales force excited. It’s a lot easier to get up in the morning and go to work if you are excited about what you do – and the same is true for each member of your sales team. You need to help them get excited about what they are selling. The owner or sales manager who keeps his sales force excited about what they are selling will develop a team that produces results. Remind your salespeople about the benefits of what they are selling. Develop examples and case studies that they can use with their own customers.
Revamp your compensation plan. Many companies develop a compensation package when they start their business, then put it in a drawer and never look at it again. Your compensation package plays a major part in motivating your sales force and achieving your performance goals. Now is the right time to take a hard look at your compensation plan and performance measures and ensure they fit today’s market realities. Are the thresholds you’ve asked your sales force to meet still realistic? You may need, for example, to restructure your compensation package so that your sales people are compensated for identifying new clients and pursuing them, rather than just completing sales.
Compensation packages should be reviewed every two to three years to ensure they fit economic conditions and your individual industry.
For more about how to structure a sales compensation plan, contact our CEO, Don McDermott, at email@example.com or (732) 842-8634 for a no obligation initial consultation.