What are the most important sales lessons that all businesses should be following? Our panel of experts give their top tips to boost sales, across any business.
HR Shiever – Managing Director, Citrix Online, Pacific Region
1. When it comes to growing sales, businesses often need to take one step back to move two steps forward. I recommend that every three to six months, companies review in detail who their top customers are and develop profiles of those businesses. 2. Then, get on Google or even the Yellow Pages, search for similar businesses that meet those same profiles, and start a sales campaign targeting those companies.
3. Embracing the right technology is also critical to ensuring that your sales team is as productive as possible. One such tool that is quick to implement, easy-to-use and delivers instant return on investment is online meeting software. Online meetings give your sales staff a powerful alternative to the face-to-face meeting and allow for much richer conversations than a simple phone call. By securely sharing their computer screens with prospects or customers in real-time, your sales team will be able to walk through presentations and deliver engaging product demonstrations online from their office computer. Consequently, they’ll be able to travel less but reach more people, improve sales cycles and, ultimately, increase sales revenues.
Carl Harman – State General Manager Victoria/Tasmania, nabbusiness
1. Genuine customer service. Take the time to know your prospective or existing customers as this will save you time and money in the long run. Some call it 'qualifying', and at NAB we talk about making genuine contact with our customers and taking the time to understand the full scope of their business needs in the context of the industries in which they operate. This ensures you are meeting all of your customers' needs and giving them the right products/solutions, which in turn increases your customer loyalty and advocacy.
2. Responsiveness. Be both pro-active and re-active. Find a legitimate reason to touch base with your customers periodically and demonstrate how you can add value. If your customer calls you, take accountability for the call and the outcome and ensure you manage their expectations around timings and processes. Under-promise and over-deliver!
3. Don't underestimate the power of referrals. Take the time to identify who your key advocates are and why they are advocates. You should be asking these customers for referrals and potentially emulating what you do for them to build satisfaction and more advocates.
Gavan Ord – Business Policy Adviser, CPA Australia
1. Boosting sales should not be your sole objective. Increased sales don’t automatically translate into a successful business if you don’t collect the cash from the sale. So it’s important to have in place a strategy to increase the cash from sales by improving the timeliness of receiving such cash.
2. One common strategy to boost sales is to engage an experienced salesperson. To motivate sales staff, you should offer them a commission, but be careful. Payment of the commission should be linked to receiving the cash from the sale, not when the sale is made. Linking the commission to receiving the cash will motivate your sales staff to not only make the sale but also to chase any outstanding debts on your behalf.
3. It is also important to boost sales in products that give you the highest margin, as this will increase your profit. It makes no sense to boost sales through heavy discounting, as this may leave you worse off. To boost sales of high value items, you could consider placing those high value items in a high visibility/traffic location.
Robert Bryant – National Sales & Marketing Manager, IBISWorld
1. Embracing specialisation. If your sales force has an extremely diverse range of products they are going to find in hard to become a specialist and develop a successful pitch or identify prospects. Embracing some form of specialisation, such as focus on your product or service to a specific industry sector.
2. Choose a position and stick with it. Before you set out you should have a very clear idea of how you intend to position your business. Industry positioning is a major factor, and it is always better when the position of your business is a matter of choice rather than circumstance.
3. Think outside-in, rather than inside-out. Don't assume the market is going to be equally excited by your product. Before you begin, ensure you understand your market—the broader business environment, your potential customers and their industry, as well as your competition.
4. Outsource all non-core activities, to secure competitive advantage and accelerate innovation. This allows you to focus on growth, expansion and business development, adding flexibility to an organisation.
5. Develop a unique organisational culture. A salesperson is a specialist professional in the same way any other role is in a successful organisation. Providing an exciting workplace with vision and reward is a must if you hope to attract and keep the best.
Robert Gerrish – Founder, Flying Solo
1. Get clear on who you want to sell to. If you're vague about who your ideal customer is, your sales message will lose strength and you'll risk getting lost in the noise of everyone else's selling. Being truly heard by your ideal customer dramatically increases the likelihood of a sale.
2. Scratch lots of itches. Once you nail your ideal customers get inside their heads. What's bugging them? What's irritating them? Find their itches and you'll know where to scratch.
3. Spread some love. Never forget it's much easier to sell to people with whom you already have a relationship. Before you go starting up lots of new sales campaigns just make sure you're doing all you can for the supporters you already have. If you don't, someone else may just run off with them!
Sarina Russo – Managing Director and Founder, Sarina Russo Group
1. Catching customers, holding customers, making the sale is now more difficult than ever before. And it will get worse. In an instant anything and everything can be copied, which makes it more difficult to develop ‘ownership’ of a customer and to make a sale.
2. Customers reign supreme in this new, intensively competitive climate. The challenge is to give customers extra value. It’s only when they perceive extra value that you will have a chance of binding them to you.
3. My belief is that we have to tell ourselves that customers are just like us. We are consumers, too. We want to feel special, we want to feel significant, we want to feel that we are valued, we want to feel we have done a good deal. If we can make our customers feel those things, they will want to stay with us and they will be likely to recommend us. Certainly, it takes extra effort to make them feel that way–and maybe extra cost–but I still believe it is cheaper to retain a good customer than to go out and ‘buy’ a new customer.
Siimon Reynolds, creative director and chairman, Love Communications
1. Get your current clients to buy more per sale, with product bundling, add ons etc. It’s quicker and cheaper than finding a new client.
2. Get your current clients to pay more when they spend with you. Offer a few high priced options, you’ll find at five or 10 percent of your customers will choose them. Or raise all your prices 20 percent, few people will object.
3. Ring up all your old cli
ents and ask them for a referral, or if they want to buy again.
4. Begin advertising on Google Adwords. Buy Adwords for Dummies to quickly learn the best ways. Adwords is cheap, measurable and effective.
5. Rewrite your website to make it more sales oriented, less of a brochure. Most company websites do not ask for the sale nearly enough.