How do you Increase Sales? – Is Sales Growth Sustainable? Introduction
One of the eternal challenges that all businesses are faced with on a daily basis throughout the Process Industry is that of achieving sales turnover and sales margin targets.
Sales are the lifeblood of any organisation and without orders coming in through the door, invoicing is constrained, organisations are often starved of cash flow, forced to reduce operating costs and the consequences for a business can often be catastrophic.
Maintaining healthy sales order books can be a perennial challenge for sales teams the world over and many of our readers within Process Industry organisations will recognise the recurring pressure in continuing to achieve sales targets in an ever-competitive market place.
This challenge need not be as daunting as it first appears; many organisations fail to recognise that sustainable sales is derived from the application of a process and if that process is resolutely adhered to and the correct disciplines are applied, then sales will naturally follow. There is no magic wand and no need for a magic formula. Successful selling requires the discipline to follow this through and having worked throughout the Process Industry for over 30 years now, I have seen that process successfully applied in many different scenarios, ranging from the sales of complex services through to commoditised products. I have seen it work for process manufacturing companies, to machine shops and engineering distributorships. The challenges remain similar - but the same processes can be applied.
As part of our continuing commitment to share managerial solutions and tricks & tips with our readers, Process Industry Forum is now running a 5 part series where we aim to share with you the ‘5 Key steps to achieving sustainable sales growth’ for any business. This will be made available to you over the coming weeks and months.
At the end of it, we hope you will have learned how to better manage your existing customer accounts, how to run an effective sales management programme, how to generate leads and enquiries for your products and services and what key performance measures should be applied to allow you to get directly to the important issues that will impact on sales within your business.
Before we begin the series however, I want to stimulate your thinking by asking you to take a close look at the sales processes currently deployed within your organization. Start by asking the following questions to your sales team. All you need for now is an honest answer to these questions - I think the answers may surprise you and I hope many of these questions will be answered for you in the coming weeks.
Self Analysis Sales Questions
- Can you and your sales team name three differentiators that set you apart from your competitors?
- Do you communicate the benefits of your product or service effectively in all of your promotional literature and on your website?
- Have you tested Telemarketing to attract new customers? Did you accurately measure the results?
- Have you tested Direct Mail to attract new customers? Did you accurately measure the results?
- Have you tested PR to attract new customers? Did you accurately measure the results?
- Do your advertisements deliver powerful direct response messages with a compelling reason for the reader to respond – or do you think they need to be stronger?
- Do you choose to advertise in certain publications just because your competitors choose those publications?
- Do you operate an effective sales pipeline within your organisation?
- Do your sales guys have a bid win rate of greater than 70%?
- Does your sales team qualify leads thoroughly and professionally?
- Have you tested Pay Per Click search engine advertising?
- Have you tested Direct Mail or Internet Advertising?
- Do you engage in online marketing or search engine optimisation for your products and services?
- Do you send regular Email communications or Newsletters to your customers and prospective customers?
- How many weeks each year do your sales team members spend learning and developing their sales skills?
- Do you have a well established and effective lead generation process in place?
- Do you set up an ongoing communication with qualified leads consisting of phone calls, letters and emails?
- Do you obtain and use testimonials from your best customers?
- Do you have an effective referral system in place?
- Do you offer something of value to your website visitors in exchange for their contact details?
- Do you know how to write a press release to instantly grab the attention of the person reading it?
- Do you personalise your email newsletters?
- Do you know that client’s birthday information is probably the most important piece of marketing information you can have?
- Do your team understand that the best way to sell is to ask questions?
- Does your team know when to ask open questions and when to ask closed questions?
- Do you take good care of your existing customers?
- Do you know why it’s important to include a ‘PS’ in all of your sales letters?
- Do you communicate with your current customers on a frequent basis to ensure they know what you have to offer?
- Do you use just one or two ways of marketing to promote your business? Do you know why you should be using between six and ten?
- Did you know that if you follow up a mailshot with a phone call, you can increase your conversion rates quite dramatically?
Stay with us over the coming weeks to get answers to the above and learn how to get the best out of your sales activity with our '5 Key Steps to Sustainable Sales Growth'.
If you have any questions or comments in the meantime - post them below!
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