What's worked at your organization?
Over the years, I've repeatedly been asked, "What's the best way to increase sales in the short-term while waiting for the full impact of the sales training projects to take hold and produce results?"
Based on my 25+ years of sales consulting and sales training, here are three activities I've seen to generate a positive short-term sales impact. CAUTION: This is only to be used to generate a short-term sales bump and should not be used to resolve long-term issues or utilized as a shortcut to resolving core training problems.
- Targeted territory review: Whenever we have undertaken a territory realignment project and completed the analysis, we have ALWAYS, I repeat ALWAYS found accounts that I call "IOA – Immediate Opportunity Accounts". What I mean by "Immediate Opportunity Accounts" are accounts which, right now have a higher revenue potential for your company than current levels in the short-term. The underlying reasons for existing lower sales levels of your products are:
- At these "IOAs", your organization is underrepresented by your sales reps (not called on/under-called on)
- Dominated by competitors that are fundamentally weaker, product-wise or value-wise but are vulnerable to your company's superior products' features, benefits and/or value solutions.
- No need to spend months doing a full territory realignment analysis but do a quick review of the market and accounts currently targeted by sales reps to identify these "IOAs" for generating immediate gains!
- Boost customer call effectiveness: When we accompany sales reps on joint field calls, we have worked with quite a few sales reps that are not adequately prepared for the call, thus limiting the impact of the customer call. The way to improve call effectiveness starts with sales reps developing a structured, WRITTEN call plan on a piece of paper, notebook or tablet, and using this written material during the call as a "call guide or roadmap". Essential elements that need to be WRITTEN out at the pre-call call planning stage are:
- 1-2 call objectives - specifically written, preferably including numerics to enable sales reps to conduct a post-call evaluation of the call results vs. pre-call objectives
- 4-5 call flow and key points that need to be addressed during the call which makes up the contents of the call
- Questions or objections that could potentially be asked by the customers which puts the sales rep in a position to prepare and think like the customer prior to the call (i.e. What would the customer think or say to my presentation and recommendations?)
With excellent and detailed preparations, sales reps would be in a more advantageous position to deliver a stronger and more effective customer call. The sales rep would be able to follow a specific plan, check off the discussion topics that are written and planned out instead of merely relying on memory to execute the call. Preparing a pre-call plan, in a written fashion and using it during the customer call results in an improved sales call by enabling engagement with the customer in a more focused dialogue.
- Conduct role play exercises: Sales reps usually possess good product knowledge and selling skills. However if your company sees an opportunity to strengthen gaps in sales reps' product knowledge or selling skills (which when improved translates into immediate incremental sales) conduct role play exercises at the monthly first-line sales manager meetings. The idea here is to reinforce and strengthen 1 or 2 selling skills like probing/ handling objections or utilization of product knowledge/terminologies which enables sales reps to conduct customer calls with more confidence resulting in more sales.
I've witnessed the above three elements positively impact short-term sales at various companies.