Back to Basics…but
We hear the term ‘back to basics’ all the time. It’s used to reference pretty much anything. I’ve seen it used in ads for school uniform, gardening centres and cooking shows. It only works though, when we can visualise what the basics are. When it’s applied to sales and sales growth, it’s not hitting the mark as it should, because it’s not clear what the basics are. Most businesses don’t have a documented process in their sales function, they’re often light on training and new starters don’t know what the basics are.
Every company has a responsibility to ensure that their sales people are equipped with the best opportunity, to win the most deals, with the least effort. A good knowledge of the basics is important to us all, whether we’re the CEO, MD, Sales Director, Sales Person or the new starter in the sales team, it doesn’t matter. It’s even more crucial at this difficult time. We all need to work on our foundation for sustainable success to help maximise our sales growth when we get the green light to get back to work.
So, what do I call the basics of the sales function?
- Products and Pricing – be the expert
Know your products and services, inside out and back to front. Know the value proposition for each one and know the current pricing strategy.
- Qualification – use a consistent process and use it every time
Qualifying every lead, whether it’s from a cold call or a referral, will make sure you’re not wasting your time on people who have no intention of buying. Your time is money and poor qualification will soak up your working week, blocking your ability to sell to a customer who is ready to buy.
- Target Customers – ideal prospects who fit your buyer persona
Know who is most likely to buy your products or services. It’s not hard to find out. Analyse your sales data and build a buyer persona based on what characteristics your best past and current customers share. They might include: industry, sector, location, age, education etc.
- Competition – know who they are, how they sell, what their vulnerabilities are
If you know who your close competitors are you can devise strategies to beat them. They will have different value propositions and you can use them to build unique selling points to make sure you can beat them.
- Value Proposition – what makes your company unique and the compelling reason your customers by from you
Your value proposition might be: price, innovation, customer service, quality, environmental factors, locale, style or any other thing that differentiates you from your competition. If your value proposition is price, you must be sure you’re offering the lowest price for that product or service, regardless of all other considerations. It’s the simplest message, the easiest to validate but also the easiest for your close competitors to match. A good understanding of your value proposition, helps you analyse your existing customers to help you identify and unlock potential new markets.
These five items are the tip of the iceberg. If you search, you’ll find hundreds of ‘tip lists’ to improve sales that include: how to listen, how to talk, how to mirror behaviour, how to network and these are important, but you don’t want a team of clones. The great thing about sales people, is their individual style and what they bring to the team. Comprehensive understanding of the basics, provides a great foundation for them all, but when it’s combined with their individual creativity, your sales stars will shine.