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10 Great ways to increase your sales

The sales team is the ‘face’ of your business and if customers don’t like it, they won’t come back – In this complex world, we often forget the simple things – And in business that can be disastrous to sales, training a sales team isn’t simple, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Shane Cassidy outlines 10 crucial steps that make the difference between lowering and increasing sales.

In this complex world, we often forget the simple things. And in business that can be disastrous to sales. Training a sales team isn’t simple, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Sir Colin Marshall from British Airways once said: “The simple principle is that the company exists to serve its customers long into the future. Business leaders that act on this, and persuade all their people to believe in it, can transform an ordinary company into a world beater.” Good customer service can be a very important and effective aspect of your marketing plan. If a customer receives great service from your business, they will become repeat customers and even recommend your business to others, which is very cost effective for SMEs. So, how do we assist our sales staff to give customers great service? Here are 10 tips to help get your staff on their way to recording top sales results.

Tip 1: Empower your staff

Try to involve your sales staff in all process improvements that affect the way the business deals with the customer. Empower your sales staff to deal with problems they are confronted with from a customer. There must be very clear direction in what you expect of your sales staff, so don’t be ambiguous. If your process is at a sticking point, ask your staff for assistance with problem-solving, then recognise and acknowledge their input.

Tip 2: Give sales staff powers of discretion

Delivering items on time is vital to running your business smoothly, and requires a great deal of discipline by the business. You can’t be everywhere at once and you will need to give various employees the power of discretion. Good solid policies and procedures will give your sales staff and employees the boundaries and guidelines they need to operate within. At logistics company TNT, for example, they claim if a delivery vehicle breaks down they find another one, if that one breaks down they will get another one. If that breaks down, and if necessary, they will use an aeroplane. The owner of the business does not need to be there to make this decision. Staff have been given the powers of discretion by solid policies and procedures and understand their boundaries within the business.

Tip 3: Sales staff need to be flexible to assist customers

Flexibility is an essential component in customer responsiveness and delivering satisfaction. You can’t forecast all the possible situations that may confront your sales staff. If you have conducted and followed a good recruitment procedure, your sales staff should have, as a minimum, some basic skills (such as communication and presentation skills) which will allow them to present a solution to a customer. To enhance this, some training and empowerment will give them the flexibility needed to assist your customer.

Tip 4: Celebrate and reward excellence

Consider this: you are the sales person and your employer rewards excellence with an all expenses paid weekend for two on the coast. Would you strive to achieve and exceed your sales target? Possibly. What if you were acknowledged in front of your peers as well as getting the holiday? This is looking more attractive for you now. Create an ‘excellence’ program by offering sales staff some form of reward for meeting their sales targets and exceeding them. They will work to their fullest to assist the customer as they will want the reward if it’s attractive enough.

Tip 5: Don’t let the phone ring

Best practice is to answer the phone within three rings. This is not always possible, so have a well automated call queuing system that will engage on the fourth ring. Then ensure your sales staff understand they are to contact the client as soon as possible.

Tip 6: Don’t keep customers waiting

Have you ever been annoyed by standing in line or at a counter waiting to pay for some goods and the sales staff are on a personal call or talking to a friend in the store? I have and I don’t frequent those shops again. Explain to your sales staff that customers in the store come first and don’t keep them waiting for a personal reason.

Tip 7: Ensure sales staff know your products

Ensure your sales staff are knowledgeable about the products when they talk to customers. There is nothing that will destroy your business credibility quicker than a blank stare or a quizzical look in answering a simple question about a product. Teach sales staff to avoid jargon as this will confuse the customer. Speak in layman’s terms (without being patronising). When a new product comes onto the market, ensure you are supplied with factual information and that sales staff read and understand the new product. Also consider conducting a short training session.

Tip 8: Embody empathy in sales staff

If you notice sales staff being impatient or annoyed with a complaining customer ask them these questions: Would you put up with a salesperson treating you like that when you had a question? Would you like to be ordered around or dictated to? Would you like to be made a fool of in a shop full of people by the sales staff? Would you go back to that store and continue to buy goods from them after an incident like that?

Tip 9: Ensure there is two-way communication

This is simple and effective. Ensure you can communicate effectively with sales staff and they can effectively communicate with you. Don’t create barriers for staff or you won’t find out about problems until it is too late. Communication includes written, verbal and body language—ensure yours is correct and sales staff will follow.

Tip 10: Train staff

Achieving customer satisfaction often involves changing the behaviour and culture among your sales staff. This means training, but not necessarily in conventional ways. Coaching and mentoring are forms of training that can be an inexpensive and very effective way of training sales staff. Be aware though, that cultural or behavioural change is underpinned by management-style change. You need to change your ideas towards customer service before you can expect sales staff attitudes to change. 

* Shane Cassidy is director of training development company, TDi Consultancy. Contact him at www.tdiconsultancy.com.au or by phoning 0400 723 945.

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