Sales Increasing Market Share
Savvy sales pro knows how to turn yelling into selling. Before embarking on a family vacation, Tim, a sales rep for a Boston-based air compressor supplier, told his hot prospect that he’d drive back from Cape Cod on a moment’s notice if that’s what it took to close the deal. The customer promised he wouldn’t nose around elsewhere in the meantime, easing Tim’s anxiety.
There was a lot more at stake than an order for a $30,000 air compressor. The prospect, a decision-maker for one of the largest automotive companies in New England, had a dozen other outlets in need of the product. The next week, back from vacation, Tim’s phone rang. Sorry, the prospect said, turns out he placed a purchase order with another company. Steamed, Tim vented to Craig, his sales manager.
Managing the sales function
There’s a lot riding on how well you coach a sales team. Its performance determines whether your non-sales employees get bonus checks or pink slips. These rules helped us lead high-flying sales teams in our wholesale, retail, and commercial divisions.
Set performance goals
Settle on reachable, yet challenging, goals. Sit down together and analyze current sales, historical cycles, and the rep’s track record. Benchmark her versus her peers. Make sure she walks away with goals she can call her own. There’s not a lot of life in arbitrary numbers handed down from on high. Be patient with newbies—but not too patient. Build an exit strategy into your agreement (“If you fail to reach 70 percent of goal after four months, we’ll shake hands and go our separate ways”). That helps cut your losses early and prevents uncomfortable terminations
Managing the funnel
Think of your sales funnel as a place to pour all your prospects, everyone from current customers to people unfamiliar with your offering. Our sales funnel (others call it a pipeline) report listed current and prospective accounts along with current or potential sales levels, goals, follow-ups, roadblocks, and solutions. Performance reports, filled with individual stats like the back of a baseball card, were e-mailed to everyone on the team daily, weekly, and monthly. The sales manager stayed on top of things through weekly one-oneness with all his salespeople.
The Sandler selling system
You’ve developed the mother of all widgets. Your can’t-miss marketing strategy is locked and loaded. You’ve built a principled, outgoing sales force. But the cash registers won’t start singing until you’ve plugged in the right sales process. I’ve seen and experimented with countless techniques. Hands down, the best is the Sandler Selling System, which has notched countless win-wins for me over the past twenty-five years. No-nonsense and dignified, Sandler was founded on mutual respect between salespeople and clients. Sandler wins because it recognizes the two dynamics at work in the buyerseller dance—the prospect’s system and the salesperson’s system.
Remember, business is won or lost on the sales dance floor as rapport is established. It’s the moment of truth, when you determine whose selling system will prevail, yours or your prospects. Without a strong system, you default to a passive role. Don’t let that happen. The best dancers lead gracefully, always staying a step ahead of their partners.