The UK has the second-largest ICT sector in Europe, with British businesses increasingly turning to technology to enable growth. Yet resellers are under more pressure than ever to maintain and increase their customer base. Competition is fierce and companies struggle to differentiate themselves.
Once tried-and-true sales techniques are becoming clichéd, tired and ineffective, and it becomes very easy to blame marketing for not building a brand.
So you must have a watertight sales plan, to define sales focus and best practice that gets you in front of sufficient numbers of prospects. Break large annual sales targets into manageable pieces. Then spend time figuring out who is the ideal prospect - it is much easier to go out and find clients when you know what you are looking for.
Team managers must be able to monitor and measure results, so a structure must be put in place and adjusted where necessary. This means setting aside time for debriefings that will allow team members to take what they learn to their next meetings. What could they have done better? Can it be practised for next time? Good communication is also helpful for staff morale.
Remember: if you always do as you have always done, you will always get what you always got.
Look also at individual presentation. If someone sounds, smells, looks and acts like every other salesperson the prospect has ever seen, that is how he or she will be treated. Aim to stand out.
However, if the salespeople focus only on themselves and the product, it is a one-way street to delays, objections and failure. The number of deals a salesperson makes is proportional to the amount of information he or she gathers. They should be effective listeners so they can talk knowledgeably about prospects’ problems.
They will hear “no” sometimes. And it is OK for the salesperson to say no to a less than ideal prospect. Sometimes it pays to be discerning; eliminate time-wasters early. Use a screening process to check there is a fit between your needs and those of your prospects.
It does not have to be a gritty, exhausting experience. Every salesperson needs to be gutsy for a few seconds at a time, but do relax and bring some humour into things. The whole process is infinitely more enjoyable when the buyer and the seller treat each other as humans, and of equal business stature.
Shaun Thomson is chief executive officer of Sandler Training
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