This post was written by Chris O'Riordan of Firestarter Business Solutions. The Firestarter Programme provides the skills, resources and support for business leaders and senior corporate managers to execute a programme of change or drive a growth initiative with guaranteed progress. Having recently partnered with The Growth Hub to deliver a Scale Up session, the Firestarter Team will be delivering more events in 2020 via the Gloucestershire Growth Hub Network.
As part of our Gloucestershire Expertise series, we are giving local leaders the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience, to help other ambitious enterprises grow. If you would like to contribute to the series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Great idea – poor execution.’ The eternal issue that gets in the way of real success.
It’s even more apparent when you start realising that the mechanic of actually ‘selling’ your goods and services may be the real thing to worry about, not the goods and services themselves.
At the heart of every successful business is a finely tuned sales engine to take your products and services to market, but how do you achieve successful sales? Half the battle is all about creating the right mindset, developing good habits and staying focused on your goals, but being proactive and taking regular actions will help you ignite sales and growth into your business. Take a look through the Firestarter ‘seven steps’ highlighted below to see how you could improve sales performance in your business.
1. Take Ownership and Start with the Answer
As with many things in life, you need to know where you’re going before you can work out how to get there. Successful sales people always have a goal and are proactive about taking steps and actions to get where they need to be. They can see the destination and know that they have to take responsibility to get there.
To be successful, you should always be positive – things may not run smoothly, but you need to keep powering through. Remember, your number is YOUR responsibility – treat it as if you are running your own business, so don’t look for excuses – find the answers.
2. Know your universe, refine your universe
Never lose sight of the fact that your market, whether it is a specific industry, territory or sector, is a universe that you can ‘learn’ and understand how to maximise your returns.
Always remember that successful selling is a continuum. There are no short cuts and you must build up a multi-touch approach to building intelligence, generating appointments, knowing your customers, prospects, partners and channels. It is all about consistent refinement and rhythm, building up information within your universe to gain control of the key numbers and performance indicators. If you do it right, every day, week and month that passes will see an improvement in your knowledge, effectiveness and performance.
3. First things first – talk to your universe
It’s a simple fact that in order to start doing business with people, you need to talk to them. Of course, it’s important to organise your data, get your strategy right, formalise your sales process and prioritise your targets, but at some point you have to ‘get out there’ and actually talk to your suspects, prospects and customers in order to make progress.
There are only 168 hours in any week – it’s how you use them that counts. To be successful, you need to be ruthless and disciplined with your time and attention management. Focus on spending the right amount of time on doing the right things for successful selling and ‘get in the zone’ to execute actions to ensure you get the results you need. Always ensure that a large percentage of your 168 hours per week is dedicated to talking to your universe.
4. Treat every meeting like the critical hour
Once you get the opportunity to meet with your prospects and customers, it is vitally important to make sure you get your preparation and performance right to ensure you get the right results. Remember, every meeting is golden – make them all count, whatever your objectives are.
We believe there are seven clear stages to follow in any meeting, with a natural flow towards success. It is important for you to structure your meeting management and always have a clear plan for each stage in order to build discipline, depth and results to every meeting, ensuring you are always in control and are guiding it through to the conclusion you want.
5. See the obstacles, work the obstacles
In every sales scenario, there will always be barriers, objections and challenges that you will have to overcome in order to be successful. Obstacles are inevitable and a key condition of any sale, so don’t try to avoid them – be direct and hunt them out so that they can be addressed. Never look for reasons why a sale cannot happen, but anticipate the obstacles that you may face – then look for focused actions that can drive progress.
6. Find and close an order every week
Closing is one of the most important and difficult selling skills to master, so managing your opportunity funnel and prospect maturity to get as many prospects as possible to the correct stage is vital to success. Think about the different stages of prospecting and work out where your opportunities are in the selling process – focus on regular management and activity to ‘push’ each opportunity along to the next stage and be ready to close at the right time.
Always remember that successful selling is a continuum. By taking regular actions, you get into a rhythm that drives execution and helps to avoid the pressure points of monthly and quarterly targets. Small steps, little and often – help you maintain consistency, avoid drift and achieve your goals.
7. Be the best, be frank about the basics
Selling is one of the oldest and most established skills in the world, with many different techniques, tips, training and thoughts on the best ways to achieve success. But essentially, selling is selling, whether you’re on a market stall in the streets of Vietnam or a high flying city trader in corporate New York. The basic principles for success are the same and have been for many years; you just have to apply them to your business and be the best you can be.
Don’t get lost in the current trends and new ideas of the day – what you are doing is nothing new and people have been selling for thousands of years. Building a business is never easy and requires hard work, but developing good habits and sticking to them will help you to stay on track, whatever your individual circumstances.
In conclusion, always remember:
- You have to talk to people
- You need a convincing proposition
- You should always be disciplined in your approach
- The same principles apply to anyone who is successful; in whatever commercial enterprise, time period, or geography.
For more information on the fundamentals of business development, effective habits and the impact of Firestarter, click here for our sales performance guide on the 5 Lessons from Successful Sales People.