5 Sales Tips for 2014

Sales Tip No 1 – Write A Sales Plan

If you’re a salesperson, you need to have a written sales plan of how you’re going to exceed your sales target. Notice I said exceed, not achieve there. If you’re a sales manager, you need to have a written sales plan. If you’re a sales director, you need to have a written sales plan. If you’re a business owner, you need to have a written sales plan. Anyone notice a pattern here?

There is no excuse for not having a written sales plan. The most common one I hear when I mention this to people are “oh but Andy, I don’t have the time to write a sales plan”. Wrong. You don’t have the time not to write a sales plan.

The second most common one I hear is “oh but Andy, I don’t need a sales plan. I can sell my product or service to pretty much anybody”. Wrong again. You probably need a sales plan more than anyone else to be better targeted in your business development and lead generation efforts.

Sales Tip No 2 – Focus, Focus, Focus

Now you’ve got your written sales plan, the next step is to make sure you’re focused. Focusing has been forced on a lot of people as the recession hit, with many companies noticing a drop-off in incoming enquiries and sales leads.

This forced their sales team to concentrate harder on those opportunities, and focus more on each opportunity individually – and how they were going to get it to convert into business. If the market is starting to pick up for you and your team, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of taking those enquiries for granted – as some companies had done before the recession really hit them.

And if you’re starting to get lots more enquiries, your sales plan will help you focus on the best opportunities, and the ones you and your team are most likely to convert!

Sales Tip No 3 – Work To Your Strengths

This is an important point, and one that’s often missed. One important thing here is to be aware of (and manage) your energy levels. Back when I was a sales manager, I had one rep that truly was a morning person – jumping around at 8.30 in the morning, yet when 3pm came he was almost asleep.

He’d tried a number of things to solve this problem – what he ate and drank, exercise and even how much sleep he got – and nothing seemed to have an effect.

We then decided to play to his strengths, and re-arranged his diary to take advantage of his energy levels. We made his new business activity (cold calls, new business appointments etc) in the morning, and existing client calls and paperwork in the afternoon. Month on month his sales went up fifty percent. Amazing.

If you’re a manager or a director, are you playing to the strengths of your team? Are you asking account management staff or sales admin staff to do new business sales roles? Are you asking marketing staff to make cold calls? Think about what the best use of your resources is right now.

Sales Tip No 4 – Block Out Time For Prospecting

This is something I’m very keen with my clients. I’ve lost count of the times people have said to me “oh but Andy, we don’t have time for prospecting/cold calling” or “I know I should have made some calls today, but things just got in the way”.

There is no excuse for not prospecting. Sales managers and directors all over the world continually get frustrated with salespeople who ride the sales rollercoaster – a good month, followed by a bad month, followed by a good month, followed by a bad month – you get the idea.

This is usually because the salesperson has become so busy dealing with their leads that they haven’t had time for prospecting – leading to a lack of leads for the following month – which leads to a lack of sales. So why does this keep happening? Because we let it.

Everyone should block out time for prospecting. It should be the most important thing in your day. The first thing in your diary, and the last thing out of your diary. Too many salespeople don’t prospect because it’s easier to deal with existing customers – then they complain when they miss target the following month.

Sales Tip No 5 – Get Motivated

It’s interesting that already this year, how many companies are calling me and asking me to come in and help motivate their sales team. Companies that want to steal a march on their competitors are looking to get better results from their teams – whether it’s an internal team making appointments for field sales, or an external team that the company wants to perform better.

Motivation is an area that’s vital to the success of yourself or your team. It’s not unusual for people that have been on sessions with me to have doubled or tripled their performance, whether that’s in terms of numbers of appointments booked, or in sales they’ve made in the months after the session.

Many organisations make the mistake of assuming their salespeople are already motivated. Yet in my experience, most salespeople generally work between 30-50 percent of their potential.

If you’re a manager or a director, what steps are you taking right now to work on the motivation of your team? If you’re the salesperson, what would it take for you to get and feel more motivated right now? And then go and do it! And don’t say more money. That’s known as commission.

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