It’s that time again. A new year, a new start, a new chance to plan and set targets and goals.
Of course you’re looking at your business plan this month, in readiness for a dynamic 2016, and you will again be appreciating that success relies largely on two elements: customers and sales.
We often write about the importance of valuing your customer and if you’re reading this now and HAVEN’T prioritised your customers yet, we need to chat!
Good customer service has been a key differentiator for successful companies in 2015 – businesses have had to become more customer-centric because their buyers are demanding it. Delivering excellent customer service means retaining customers and increasing top-line revenue.
Assuming that’s been a key focus for you in 2015, let’s sharpen up the other key factor in success – sales skills.
One of your key priorities in 2016 will be to sell more of what you do. Whether it be more donuts with the coffee, more legal time for your client or more rooms in your care home, what really drives your sale?
Breaking it down into a simple strategy, I’ve identified five key conclusions…(oh, and a bonus one because I’m feeling generous!)….
1. We all have to sell ; get over it.
So often I hear team members telling me that they don’t sell. They find it uncomfortable or it’s not what they were employed to do. The plain fact is we all sell. In every action we take for our business we are selling, whether it be the brand, a service or a product. It’s just about focus.
Following on from the first point it is logical, therefore, that you recruit employees who have competent people skills and the ability to display passion and enthusiasm for the product or service you are selling. Perhaps within your interview process you could ask the prospective employee to pick up a pen and sell it to you. Encourage them to use passion and detail. How do they go about it? Do they use language that is appropriate and enthusiastic? It doesn’t matter if they stumble and hesitate. But if there is potential then you know they will be more likely to identify other sales opportunities during their working day, and encourage customers to listen to them.
3. Goals and rewards.
Great sales environments have clear and strong goals which are linked to rewards. If, at the beginning of a shift, we set a target to sell 40 desserts across 70 customers we are more likely to do it. The challenge will be foremost in the team member’s mind. All the studies show targets are the best way to drive sales. So in the case of an accountancy firm, it may be one new client per week. Once you set the target, you have the opportunity to plan how to do it.
4. Create incentives.
The golden rule of selling is everyone likes a win. Why do people drive 40 miles to get cheaper petrol? Because they feel they have had a win. Make sure any sales offer gives the customer the win they’re looking for.
5. Learn the language.
Selling is not about talking…it’s all about listening. In order to get customers to talk, you need to ask them the right questions. Learn about questioning techniques. Think about the personality standing in front of you and think through which questions are going to make a real di erence. Engage the customer, find out about them then offer something specific to them. It’s all about the
language and the connection.
Extra Bonus Point…now you feel you have won!
Make sure you MEASURE.
You can manage nothing without measurement. So set targets, record the result, review the effort and reward your people.
Selling is not a hard pitch or a forced sales monologue delivered by someone who is disconnected from the business. It’s an integral part of every employee’s interaction with the customer. Get the five steps right and you’ll be staring at a better balance sheet within months.
Review your past business year with honesty and plan your new business year with clarity; keep the customer at the heart of everything you do and remind your team that every customer touch point is a chance to sell or up-sell.
Plan to succeed and dive in!
Good luck with your goals this year.