Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don't Forget the Basics When Working to Maintain/Increase Sales

salesimage What grabbed my attention was how he described the current environment.

"It reminds me of some of the old war movies we see on cable with gritty GIs sloshing through the snow and mud lugging 80-pound backpacks," Testa wrote. "That's just about how almost everyone in sales feels every day, but particularly now."

And to ensure that 2009 isn't as gritty or slushy, Testa says that you need to focus on the basics. Here are his top 10 ways to make more sales next year:

  1. Don't blow smoke.
    Bragging and exaggeration are out. Customers don't want to hear it. The challenges we are faced with today call for realism. Even though we don't like to admit it, we all know there are some dark clouds on the horizon. The times are tough and many of our customers are not having "a great day." Let them know you understand. Make it clear you're not going to abandon them and that they can count on you.
  2. Stop looking back.
    Looking back can be good therapy; it helps take our minds off just how demanding it is to make every sale. But looking back won't help anyone make more sales calls, look for the next prospect or try to figure out how to present to a buying committee.
  3. Look the part.
    "When you walk through the door, I know you're serious," said one of his customers. "What are you talking about?" he asked. "You're wearing a white shirt and tie so I know we're here to talk business."
    None of us can avoid the fact that how we present ourselves to our customers and prospects does make a difference.
  4. Find ways to help.
    Companies (and salespeople) send the wrong message to customers when they bombard them with one "great offer" after another in an effort to break loose an order.
    Before getting caught up in the "do we have a deal for you" frenzy, ask yourself what customers really want right now. The answer is help. If all you can offer is another "super discount deal," that's not what they're looking for. And a free 32-inch LCD TV won't do it either.
    Look for information that you can share with your customers. It's the most effective way to demonstrate your value.
  5. Go on the defensive.
    This may seem like strange advice for salespeople who thrive on charging ahead. But it is easy to forget (although the thought might bruise our egos) that our customers might not automatically think of us when they have a need we can fulfill. Figure out ways to stay in front of your customers -- and don't forget your prospects.
  6. Be clear about what you're selling.
    One of those little stick 'em ads was attached to page one of a local newspaper. The advertiser was a lawn sprinkler company and the ad headline read: "Offering fall discounts for your irrigation needs."
    Who has "irrigation needs"? Farmers, maybe. What homeowners want is a green lawn that gives them bragging rights, but won't bust the budget. If that's accurate, a more effective headline might be: "Enjoy a lawn that's the envy of the neighborhood and save money and water, too."
    We're selling the equivalent of "green lawns," such as increased productivity, reduced costs, improved quality and higher sales.
  7. Let customers know you're working for them.
    Let them know what you're doing, make arrangements to speak to groups and stay in touch. When they don't see or hear from you, what are they to think? Worse yet, they may actually stop thinking of you.
  8. Keep your antennae up.
    Whether it's current trends, your thoughts about what's happening in your industry or passing along information about someone who is looking for a position, share your thinking with your customers.
  9. Lead with your best price.
    No one has time for game playing.
    More than ever, customers need to feel they can trust you to be looking out for their best interests and that includes price.
    There's nothing you can say that angers customers more than "I'll meet their price." If you can come down now, why didn't you do it first? When this happens, it creates serious doubt and undermines your integrity.
  10. Crank up your follow-through.
    There's no room for "I meant to get back to you last week" or "I'll take care of that right away" and then fail to do it.
    More sales are killed by not keeping our promises than anything else. For some unknown reason, we separate sales and customer service; we do one and someone else the other. No matter what else we do, our first responsibility in sales is customer service.

Original post by Mike Boyd at AllBusiness.

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