How to improve sales? Hmm…that million dollar question.

The first thing that comes to mind is to hire more sales reps. Throw a few more bodies at it and see if we can’t hit quota that way. It might work, I suppose, but it requires significant budget and if there are serious issues with the sales process, then this is a band aid. Throwing numbers at it won’t solve anything in the long run.

What about slashing the price?

Again, if you’ve got a little left over stock after the festive period or running into a new season this is definitely a feasible option. But it’s another short term fix. Once the stock has been sold or the sales come to an end, we will have gone full circle and end up right back where we started.

So again, back to the original question. How to improve sales?

Well, what we need to do is find a way for your sales team to be more efficient. Find ways to get the most out of the team and resources you have on hand. But before we got stuck into the mother of all sales queries and the complexities of processes, training, coaching and strategy I want to introduce you to what I consider the most important aspect of all.

Setting a clearly defined UVP that your sales reps:

  1. Completely understand
  2. Know how to sell

Despite its simplicity it is something that has a huge impact on how your team sells, who they sell to and the numbers they bring in each quarter. It’s the stepping stone that will show your sales team:

  • How to ensure your product service stands out.
  • Where to best focus their resources (time and money).
  • To discard prospects who are a bad fit for your product.

 

Does your organization have a clear and unique value proposition (UVP)?

And if so, does your sales team understand that UVP, how it differentiates from your competitors and then able to transmit that message to your potential clients? Because if not, this is a good place to start.

But before we dive in let’s just make sure we are all on the same page. A UVP is the “why” behind “why do we exist?” A fundamental statement that highlights something your product or service does extremely well and explains why clients should choose it over a competitor. It’s normally no more than a sentence or two long.

Now you might be wondering how on earth a short statement like this is going to improve sales. But just think about it for a second. When a customer or potential client is weighing up their options between you and a competitor, they need a deciding factor(s) to help them with that decision. If your sales team are not demonstrating how your UVP IS that deciding factor that they’ve been looking then I guarantee a portion of them will be idling off down the road with a competitor. That’s a lot of potential sales down the drain.

How to improve sales with Steve, the shampoo and cosmetics rep.

Let me give you an example. You could be selling a new range of shampoos, not overly dissimilar to those you can find nationwide in almost any salon. Except, after using this particular shampoo, you never have to brush your hair again, ever! That’s the product’s UVP.

So one of your sales reps (Steve) strolls into a recently opened salon armed with these never-brush-your-hair-again shampoos and begins his opening pitch as normal. He runs through the bulk of products you have in stock right now, the serums that are selling particularly well and even some of the seasonal offers your are running.

But (and it’s a BIG but) Steve failed to focus on the product’s UVP. Rolling through the standard pitch he sounded just like the competitor’s rep who, unbeknown to Steve, had visited the salon just a few days earlier (winning the contract, too).

And, to rub salt in the wounds, the owner had in fact been talking with a client just that morning about how wonderful it would be if this type of product existed.

Imagine,” he said, while tackling her mad, matted mane, “if there was a shampoo out there that meant you never had to brush your hair again, how wonderful the world would be!”

The point is, if the sales team are not aware of your product’s/service’s UVP (in this case Steve failing to nail the shampoo’s key differentiator) then they are likely underselling its value when speaking with customers. Now imagine Steve had 2-3 appointments like this a week. He’s been working at the company for 3 years now, so with holidays and all factored in let’s call that 150 weeks working time.

3 (potential opportunities lost a week) x 150 (worked weeks at your company) = 450

450 potential sales opportunities lost.

What’s more, this is just Steve. If you want to be really pedantic about it you could multiply that number by how many sales reps you have on your team. Either way, this a clear example of how to improve sales figures.

Point proven, but I still want to know how to improve sales. How do I go about fixing it?

First off, you need to get all your sales staff under one roof for a morning meeting – it takes a couple of hours to do this at least. I do understand how difficult this can be in practice (especially if you’re in charge of a large territory) but the benefits do more than outweigh the negatives.

The goal of this morning session is that everyone leaves being able to answer this one question:

As your IDEAL CUSTOMER why should I choose YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE over one of your COMPETITORS?

 

STEP 1 – HOW TO IMPROVE SALES, DEFINING YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER

So let’s start by asking your sales team to define who your ideal customer is. Get them thinking about the problem you are trying to solve – what is it exactly?

  • Is it something that needs to be fixed urgently?
  • What are the consequences if this problem is left unchecked?
  • Will they be losing money, productivity, sales, time?

Now that you have a good idea of exactly what the problem is, get your sales team to go one step further. Ask them to put a face, name, age, gender behind this ideal customer.

At the end of the day, when picking up the phone or making a face-to-face visit your sales team are communicating with a real person.

A good place to start is to get them to make a list of existing clients and the exact person (or group of people) they negotiated with to make that sell, because these are the people who considered your product the perfect solution to solving their unique problem. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a solid customer base to turn to, ask your sales team to picture their ideal client.

  • Do they have specific hobbies?
  • Are they likely to be raising a family?
  • What is their income level?
  • Are they digitally native or do they prefer the company of a newspaper over their morning coffee?

All these questions will help you and more importantly your sales team to define this perfect client.

 

STEP 2 -HOW TO IMPROVE SALES, WHY CHOOSE US?

Now that an ideal customer as been defined, the next step is to get your sales team to understand how your product/service solves their problems. In other words what value does it offer and why do they need to use it?

This is where you can start lining up specific product/service specs with pain points.

Make a list of every feature and pair it up with the problems you outlined in step 1 and be sure that your sales team understand to put the problem first (as this is what resonates with the customer) not the features.

The features are merely a means to solving the problem, not the other way around.

Another approach is to look at it backwards. Sometimes it’s easier to define who isn’t an ideal fit for your product.

Take ForceManager for example. As our solution is specifically designed for field sales teams, if a potential client runs a predominantly inside sales team then we can agree there are better solutions out there for their particular needs. There’s no shame in admitting that, plus it allows you to focus on serving those who really need your product/service.

This is also the time to do a quick competitor analysis. I’ll do a piece on this in a little more detail in the future, but for now try to identify their strengths and weaknesses that you can then go ahead and compare to your own.

Any areas where your competitors fall short should be exploited and targeted by your sales team as this again will help show a potential customer why they need your product.

Now that all the brainstorming is done, go back and ask your field sales reps to answer the following question:

As your IDEAL CUSTOMER why should I choose YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE over one of your COMPETITORS?

You’ll find they have a much clearer message about who they are targeting, why they are being targeted and how to differentiate your product/service from the competition. That’s how to improve sales!

As a result, they will know:

  • How to ensure your product service stands out.
  • Where to best focus their resources (time and money).
  • To discard prospects who are a bad fit for your product.

Improving sales is about being efficient and maximizing the resources you have at your disposal. By ensuring your team knows exactly how to sell your product and prioritizes their time with interested prospects you’re ensuring that every call made, every visit booked has a real chance of being closed. Once you have completed these steps and settled on a clearly defined UVP, then you are ready to move on to process, strategy and coaching.

What are your thoughts? Have you experienced issues setting a clearly defined UVP for your sales teams? What ideas do you have on how to improve sales?

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