An Incentive to Change!
Part – 2 of the Case Study
Tom and his colleagues wondered why they had to change the way they worked; it seemed like more work, definitely different from how they did things earlier! These thoughts occurred to them as they walked out of the briefing by the new Business Manager. It really wasn’t new or different, just stuff they should have been doing and had either forgotten or ignored to lapse into the haphazard way of selling.
The Business Manager was not going to set them adrift in the market; he had crafted a plan and wanted to work with the team to show how they would benefit from it.
Part-1 had ended with the decision by the Business Manager to implement the following:
- Adopt a Sales Process
- Speed up the Sales Cycle
- Enhance Sales Productivity
- Increase the average Sale Price
1. Adopt a Sales Process
Sales is a process, from Contact to Contract there is a logical sequence of actions that need to be followed. When that is done the chance of success is increased manifold and the customer is fully satisfied with the solution she/he acquires. It happens because the customer understands with great clarity what is being offered and all doubts regarding features, usage and support are cleared upfront. Nothing is left to chance.
Tom and colleagues were not able to acquire enough customers or were taking more time to close the sales due their haphazard style – enough thought was not being put into each sale.
2. Speed up the Sales Cycle
The Business Manager realized while studying the sales data that one of the reasons for poor or low sales was the time taken to close each contract. On an average Tom was taking 7–8 visits to the customer to get business and it got worse in the case of prospects who didn’t buy – 8-10 visits were being taken before deciding whether to pursue or not.
Imagine the amount of time that can be freed if there was a reduction of 2 in each case and to be honest Tom should be able to say much sooner whether it’s going to be a dead-end.
And this delay is mainly on account of the lack of a process – Tom and his colleagues were not thinking through each case. The right questions were not being asked, the response received from the prospect were not being analysed to derive the messages and they probably were not speaking to the right people – hence sales call were being wasted to reach the right person and even the calls made to the decision-makers were having the desired impact due to the lack of understanding of the requirements.
3. Enhance Sales Productivity
Reducing the number of visits needed to close each deal would help to improve productivity, but Tom and colleagues were also missing the chance to sell more in each sale. There were no interest in pushing for more – they were simply accepting whatever the customer offered.
A Sales team needs to thing about maximizing the returns from each contract – how much more can be sold? Can we ask the customer to club a future requirement with this one? Have they considered the needs of the new set of recruits would be joining soon? Has the customer considered the benefit that accrues from adding a feature or by buying the higher model?
As Sales Professional it is for us to put these thoughts in the clients mind – show them the benefit that accrues from buying earlier or by buying a model that is slightly more expensive but will pay back by way of simplifying processes or by reducing overall costs or by freeing time for them.
4. Increase the average Sales Price
The Business Manager had pushed the forward the idea of improving Sales Cycle and Productivity numbers because it meant more revenue. Another idea to extract revenue from a depressed market is to close each sale at a higher price.
The biggest crib heard from Sales Teams across the world –“ The customer likes our product but they say it is very expensive” or “the customer says that our rival is offering the same at a lower price”.
And this would start a discount war if the Business Manager isn’t careful – the winner would be the customer who managed to play two or more vendors against each other and extracted the best deal.
But the idea is to call the team’s and the client’s bluff. Tom’s Manager did just that; instead of given in he asked the team to study each requirement in greater detail and also to understand fully what the competitor was offering. By doing the analysis they were able to respond to each prospect with greater clarity and they could counter the bogies thrown at them by the prospect with a lot of confidence. Although they still ended up giving discounts in order to win sales they could increase the overall value extracted per sale by being selective in the way discounts were offered and by showing greater value in their solutions.
The Business Manager was able to convert Tom and his colleagues into sharper and smarter Sales Professionals. He used Sales Coaching to do this. Working with the team in the field he was able to observe them in action and back at the office he would give them constructive inputs on various elements of Professional Selling.
In future articles we will look at some of those elements – such as Synchronizing with client’s Buying Cycle, building relationship with the decision maker / buyer, Up-selling, Cross-sell, Value Selling and so on. We can discuss coaching too in greater detail.
Tom and team obviously had to shake off their bad ways and work much harder, and smarter – but in return they got better results, recognition and money too (By way of higher incentives and bonuses)
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