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Sales Management – 9 tips for non-sales focused Business Owners

By Paul Beaumont on 01/09/2015 - 0 Comments

You are a business owner and you started your business because you are good at what you do - perhaps it’s marketing, engineering or even digging holes in the road, but you are an expert at it and you started your business because you enjoy doing it.

A few years on and your business has grown and you now employ several people including a small team of sales people. As the owner manager it’s your responsibility to make sure that your sales people are representing your business correctly and maximising sales for you. 

1) Ensure that every member of the sales team has a target.

Many small businesses don’t target their sales people above their annual target. This results in “feast or famine” months when revenues are like a roller coaster and cash-flow suffers as a result. Ensure that your sales people have a target to work to every month.

Targets should be achievable and fair but keep sales people on their toes. Targets can be as straightforward as the value of the business that they are going to bring in during the month or the value of invoices they are going to be responsible for during the month, or the number of new customers they will close business from in the month or may include the amount of time they are going to spend cold-calling. Use targets to ensure that your business meets its objectives.

If you target your sales people on the number of customer / prospect meetings they attend in the month ensure that you manage the quality as well as the quantity. Don’t over burden your sales team with too many targets, for example a sales or revenue target for the month and a target for the number of new prospect meetings they have to attend during the month would be sensible. 

2) Use Quarterly and Annual bonuses to keep sales, revenues and cash-flows consistent.

Pay your sales people a bonus if they hit their monthly, quarterly and annual targets. If your salespeople bring in business in a regular and consistent manner this helps your planning, production and cash flow. To ensure that your sales people make the effort every month and quarter make it clear that if they make target they win the bonus but if they fail to make the numbers they don’t and that there is no way they can claw it back – win it or lose it; one shot.

3) Sales Forecasting.

Ensure that each of your sales people provides you with a sales forecast at the start of each month. As a minimum a sales forecast should itemise each piece of business that the sales person expects to win in the next 3 months (by month) and possibly further out dependent upon the type of business you are running. 

A useful technique is to categorise each piece of business as either “Guaranteed” (the business will happen even if the sales person falls under a bus) “Probable” (the business should happen this month but there is some work to do to get it in) or “Possible” (this is a rank outsider for this month but it might happen). Another useful technique to employ is to have a space on the forecast for the “next action” against each entry / piece of business.

Next actions should be the salesperson’s next action and include a date – for example “customer has Board Meeting to approve purchase on Thursday morning, I have agreed I will ring to find out result of this on Thursday afternoon”. This gives you the opportunity to then call your salesperson on Friday morning and ask “did you get the order”. 

4) Committed Figures.

Ask each of your sales people to give you a minimum figure that they commit (note – commit) to bring in during the next month. This might be the total value of new orders or the amount of revenue that they will be responsible for in the month. If this figure is below their target for the period in question you have some serious questions to ask and remedial actions to agree and then monitor.

Committing a minimum figure puts the onus on the salesperson to replace a lost piece of business that they were expecting to win with new business of a similar or greater value to ensure that they meet their commitment to you.

5) Monthly Review / Sales Meeting.

Meet with your salespeople one to one formally each month to review their performance against target and committed figure and to review their forecast and committed figure for the next month.

Perhaps you would meet with the sales team on the first day of the period to allow you to then use their forecasted business and committed number in your production / resource planning and financial forecasts.

Presenting a prize very publically to the top sales person or the sales person who has won a large or significant / strategic order is always worthwhile – if nothing else it makes the other sales people determined to be top next month!

6) Training Session.

If sales people are in the office for a sales meeting take the opportunity to teach them about new products or services that you are about to introduce. Perhaps use external trainers to do sales training or get one particularly successful or experienced salesperson to train the other less experienced ones. Analysing a recent win and why you beat the competition is often time well spent.

7) Spend Time on the Road with Your Salespeople

Making the effort to spend a day out on the road with your salespeople every quarter is an invaluable investment. This gives you the time to evaluate your salesperson in the meeting and in the car on the way to the meeting; you will learn much more about the individual during this day and it will give you a chance to meet customers and prospects.

8) If You Don’t Look After Your Customers Someone Else Will Do!

Many salespeople make the mistake of winning business from an account and then ignoring them and moving on to the next account. Your best prospect is always your customer and the sales cycle for winning additional business from an existing customer is much shorter than winning it from a new customer.

When a salesperson wins a new client ensure that they write an account plan for that account, make sure that this includes regular communication with the client and that it’s adhered to.

Dependent upon your type of business and product a valuable technique to employ is to have a regular review meeting with customers (one a quarter / half year) where you review the current project, educate the customer on what’s new in your business (new products and services, big new customers won, special offers etc.) and the customer tells you what’s happening in their business – a classic opportunity to sell and lock out your competition.

9) Consistent Marketing Materials

Take the time to invest in writing marketing and presentation material that you can give to anyone and everyone in the company that presents or talks to customers. If necessary teach people how to present the material – this will be time well spent and will ensure that your company’s story and products are presented in a consistent and accurate way.

Employing some or all of these techniques in your business will give you a step up on your competition and ensure that you get the best possible value from your sales team.

For more practical help and assistance on sales and all other aspects of business, contact your local Icon Advisor - we are alway happy to have a chat, so we look forward to seeing you! 

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