No matter how strong your sales engine is, it can always use a tune-up.
Start by making small changes. Optimizing your sales engine doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Think of them as small changes to your current state of affairs and gradually work on tuning the engine in your daily work.
1. Sell What Makes You Different
People want to buy what’s different, not just “better”. Successful entrepreneurs are masterful at making a conscious decision to be different and focusing on it. Salespeople need to avoid selling the countless benefits of the specific product/service and, instead, focus on what makes it a solution for the customer.
2. Stop Answering RFPs!
As you may know, the RFP process is incredibly archaic and time-consuming. The next time you receive an RFP, immediately pick up the phone and call the sender. Ask for a 20-minute phone call with the decision-maker to decide whether you will bid. If they refuse to let you speak with him/her, let them know that you will not be issuing a proposal. Most RFPs are sent by Big Company X with a certain vendor in mind. If you’re going to answer an RFP, make sure it’s worth your time (and make sure you’re not missing these 3 elements of a strong proposal).
3. Reach Out to 5 New People
Even if sales are good, proactive pursuit should never stop. You need to pick up the phone and continue to have conversations. Consider calling: one former client, one current client you haven’t talked to in awhile, one person who a former client AND current client recommends you talk to (aka referral), and one “stretch person” (someone you’ve been wanting to meet but haven’t yet been able to). You never know where these conversations could lead.
4. I Object!
Many salespeople are anxious to provide an answer to a problem, but research shows that high performers have a process that slows the conversation. When you receive an objection, first encourage and question. Get the customer talking and actively listen. This will boost your credibility and allow you to look confident and unafraid. Next, confirm with him/her the main root of the objection. Once you’ve done this you can (finally) provide an answer to the objection and check to ensure a mutual understanding. The 4 steps to handling an objection are straightforward and easy to implement immediately.
5. Lead, Manage, and Get Out of the Way
We believe management is the most critical link to a powerful sales engine. Strong leaders set high expectations, communicate with each employee, and offer regular feedback. Managing well means that feedback is provided more often than just in annual reviews. Catch people doing things right and be vocal about it. Finally, get out of their way. If regular positive feedback is given and mutual trust exists, give this employee the room to do his/her job. Allow the high performers to do the work and invest in those that may not be performing to their potential.
6. Avoid Wasting Others’ Time
Preparing for a meeting is a skill. In order to avoid wasting time in an important meeting, commit to three simple tools. At the beginning of the meeting, provide the purpose and benefit of calling the meeting and check it with your audience (we call this the “Purpose, Benefit, and Check” of a meeting and think it’s the most effective way to begin a sales meeting). Next, ask questions that will have an impact. Impact questions get the conversation going and cause people to think and reflect. Finally, learn how to pivot. Transitioning from one topic to the next is an art form. Learn how to pivot so that the discussion doesn’t move off-topic.
7. Freshen Up Your Presentations
If you are presenting, you are in command of the conversation. The easiest way you can set your presentation apart from others’ is by stating why the meeting was called and how it can be successful. If you’re going to take people away from other tasks or projects, they want to know why you are doing it. And don’t forget—a presentation is often a performance. Be aware of your energy level!
8. Stop Confusing “Busyness” With Productivity
Being productive means doing the right things at the right time, without wasting too much time. Think about when you seem to get the most done. Recreate the best environment for you and establish a personal schedule that allows you to get things done on your own rhythm. Consider adding structure to your day by assigning certain tasks to a certain time of the day. Avoid massive gaps on your calendar by setting aside times to accomplish items on your “to do” list. If you find yourself feeling “busy” but not necessarily “productive,” coach yourself to re-focus and get down to the task at hand.
9. Define Success
If discipline is the fuel of the engine that drives you, sometimes you have to step back and ask if you have pointed that engine in the right direction. What does success look like? It’s likely not one big destination—it’s made up of 1,000 little checkpoints that you create for yourself and your team.
10. Give It Away
Sales isn’t just about reaching a certain number. And, oftentimes, the little things that you do for a client can be big in his/her eyes. Stop and consider what you’ve done to help a client or customer in the past 30 days. It could be as simple as introducing them to one of your contacts that could be helpful or picking up the phone to let them know about a piece of industry news that they might not have heard. Give away a small amount of time and you just might create more “wins” for you and your company.