Traditionally Sales departments are an isolated silo whose job it is to sell whatever comes out of the sausage machine. The rest of the organisation is often both slightly jealous (due to compensation arrangements) and would never want to swap jobs and walk in their shoes.
This kind of arrangement is a tragedy of lost opportunity.
With their constant contact with prospects and feedback from pitches and demonstrations, sales staff have a unique perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of the services the company provides.
It is essential that this valuable information is fed back and used to steer and prioritise development of service improvements.
It is heresy to say it but it is important not be obsessed with short-term targets. Many external factors and cycles influence sales performance.
Once cash-flow is taken care of then what matters is what is delivered in the long term. Customers respond better if they know a long-term relationship is the real objective.
Rather than hoping commission will magically turn people into superstars through survival of the fittest, provide them with proper support, coaching, training and incentivise them to share knowledge and experience.
Sales can be a lonely profession, so it is important to proactively create a sense of community and connect them to the rest of the business.
As described in the Challenger Sale, sales today is all about being able to quickly win trust and respect, listen and understand customer needs and gently challenge and lead customers.
This establishes the salesman as a relevant expert who can lead them to the right solution. It is the antithesis of high-pressure early-close techniques.
The key to successful pricing is practical experimentation. Sometimes a lower price can lead to higher total sales, sometimes it doesn’t, it harms perceived value and a higher price is needed.
Experiment with small groups of customers to learn what is best for each service.
The best advertising is created through the perfect marriage of three things:
1) Being able to walk in customer’s shoes and inhabit their world
2) Great timing
It is easy to waste money without knowing the impact, so build in mechanisms to monitor and assess the market response.
Sales departments need to face inwards as much as they face outwards. They play a key role in educating the rest of the organisation about the current realities of the marketplace.
Instead of an over-dependence on a few high-maintenance superstars who take their knowledge with them, this creates a mature pool of sales knowledge, raises everyone’s game and makes the team resilient.
Developing a detailed strategy will also depend on local circumstances. I’d welcome the opportunity to work with you to define a specific approach to your department.
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