Some businesses have purchased and implemented contact-management or customer relationship management (CRM) software programs to get a handle on the “state of sales” in real time. But the most common push-back from the sales force has been the amount of time required to enter and update information into the program. It needn’t be that hard. If streamlining the sales process and driving new sales activity is on the top of your wish list, you may want to consider these useful tips:
- Implement and enforce a new policy stating that every sales call or contact must include setting the next appointment. A sales professional is only as good as their next scheduled conversation with a prospect or customer with repeat or add-on potential. If a sales organization were to commit to this simple practice company-wide, it could expect to see the average sales cycle from the first contact with a prospect to a signed purchase order shrink by at least 25 percent.
- Insist on every sales call having a written pre-call plan and call objective. Too many salespeople think experience is a substitute for pre-call planning. Some don’t appreciate the power and importance of pre-call planning, let alone what goes into such a plan. If your salesperson takes as little as 15 minutes to set an objective for the call and a list of questions to ask, you’d be amazed how smoothly sales calls would go and earn the right to close sooner. Asking questions in a sales call does two things:
- Confirms what the salesperson suspects he/she knows
- Uncovers vital information he/she needs to know but doesn’t
- Consider arming your sales team and management with a new business-activity driver. When I first started in sales, I was required to fill in and submit a call report that documented with whom I met, what we discussed, and how long our meeting lasted. It sounds like Big Brother was watching over my shoulder, doesn’t it? I thought that too, until my district sales manager showed me how to complete the form in less than 30 seconds per call and, more importantly, how to analyze my activities for any given quarter. With that information, I was able to accurately predict my future success, concentrate on areas where I needed improvement, and run my sales territory like it was my own business.