Sales opportunities are the lifeblood of many businesses
Yet too often they are either missed or salespeople drop the ball during the sales process.
This can be because they neglect important systems that contribute to sales success. In this article, we focus on key business processes that should be undertaken to help you manage your sales activity.
- Evaluate your existing products
Does what you are selling today meet the market? Is it relevant, profitable, offer upsell opportunities? Does it have longevity – can you see it flourishing in the market in five years’ time? For those products you decide to keep, do you have a consistent description of what they are and their benefit to customers for all people in your firm to refer to when they are talking with customers?
- Competitor Analysis
What are your competitors selling? Is there something they have that you could do even better? How do they price their products? What is important to customers and how well do you provide those added extras relative to your competitors? If you can articulate your points of difference and how they benefit the customer, you will stand a better chance of growing revenue.
- Sales Forecasting
How much do you expect to sell in the next six months? Is this linear, or are there seasonal variances? How do you plan to resource the sales that you make? Sales forecasting is important for budgeting, cash management and resource allocation, but also to create accountability within your sales team. If your team do not know what they are aiming for, there is little chance that they will hit it.
How do you price your products or services? When was the last time you undertook an audit to ensure that everything you sell is profitable? Do you know how you compare with competitive products and can you articulate why you are more expensive – or cheaper? What methodology is used to compute a price for a particular customer? What is your business’s policy on discounting and payment terms? Pricing should be very transparent within your business so that salespeople are confident in answering the question, ‘What does this cost?’
- Sales Training
Do your sales team know how to sell your products? Would they use (or are they already using) them themselves? Can they explain the business benefits of what they are selling in a succinct manner? Can they handle sales objections confidently? To what extent are you sure that each person selling to customers is saying the same thing?
- Sales Management
Every opportunity should be managed in a sales pipeline. Each lead needs to be entered into the pipeline and monitored in a weekly sales meeting with a published agenda and internal accountability. This means someone needs to assume the role of sales manager. See the accompanying article on sales management for more details on this role.
- Sales Documentation
What documentation exists in your firm in terms of proposal templates, contracts, engagement letters, master service agreements, template emails to welcome new customers and so on? Again, consistency is important in documentation. Businesses exude credibility when their documentation is underpinned with a strong brand book and the ‘voice’ of the business is coherent and reflective of the brand.
In terms of business goals, if you are aiming to increase revenue or profitability, the likelihood is you need to grow your top line. Whether you are focused on attracting new customers or better managing existing ones so that they buy more from you, it is clear that the systems underpinning the sales process should not be understated.