For just about every business, one principle is tantamount: every sale counts. A company’s sales process should be streamlined, well-structured, transparent and efficient. When one or more of those elements is missing, a key sale may not close or attempts at repeat business may fail. Simply put, everything that can be done to improve the sales process should be done.
If your sales efforts have fallen flat lately, or you hope to dramatically enhance sales performance in the year to come, here are five tips that may prove useful:
- Automate for greater efficiency. Many tiresome sales-related tasks can bog down and demoralize even your best sales rep. Automated sales technology is readily available to address this challenge, starting with CRM systems that help to nurture prospects, keep the pipeline moving forward, facilitate timely communications with prospects, and gather data that may prove useful in future sales endeavors.
Also, utilizing a digital document management system can reduce paperwork and energize your sales team to greater productivity.
- Offer in-depth coaching. Most salespeople want to become better at what they do. At the same time, they face ongoing pressures to perform at peak levels without a break in their schedule. Too much pressure—and insufficient guidance—often leads to lessened productivity and burnout.
“Work at creating an environment where ‘failure’ is seen as a learning experience, not the end of the world,” advises Predictive Success. Provide constructive criticism, while also lauding the talents and instincts your sales staff demonstrates. Coaching creates numerous opportunities to “really empower your employees by giving them the latitude to make decisions and take action.”
- Train in the most effective sales techniques. Every business and/or industry has certain proven sales techniques that work most effectively with prospects. Rather than have your salespeople submit to generic training methods, train for the results you want. This can range from learning how to ask better questions of prospects to honing the description of a company’s unique selling proposition and positioning oneself as a problem-solver for would-be clients.
- Accelerate the contract approval process. In addition to paperwork, internal red tape is the bane of a salesperson’s existence. How long does it take, within your company’s bureaucratic structure, to get a sales contract signed and approved? Again, technology offers some key solutions, such as virtual signature tools that move the contract approval process along faster, as opposed to “relying on your staff to meet with clients and managers or supervisors in person just to get a few signatures.”
- Get sales and marketing on the same page. A lack of alignment between sales and marketing can lead to mixed messages to prospects (never a good thing!). To counter this problem, keep these action steps in mind:
- Focus on sharper cross-departmental communications. Appoint an individual from each department to meet regularly, so everyone stays informed about new lead generation, updated marketing materials, ideas for new initiatives, and so on.
- Be sure the marketing messages on your website are in sync with your sales team’s pitch to prospects. Whenever inconsistencies occur, a sales rep may promote features and benefits at odds with what the marketing team wants to highlight. Conduct a comprehensive review of all your marketing and sales materials (online, in print, on social media) with a focus on generating greater consistency in messaging across the board.
- Ensure alignment on sales and marketing metrics. If sales and marketing track different data and employ different analytic models, some confusion is sure to arise. Find a system that both teams can use to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a sales campaign or marketing initiative. Collaborate analysis can pinpoint gaps in information-gathering that could at this moment contribute to a decline in sales.
Chances are, your sales process isn’t broken or even in serious disrepair. But adhering to these principles can sharpen everyone’s abilities to generate leads, attract new prospects and close that all-important deal.