Posts Tagged ‘training’

Issue 1 “We have those sales figures Steve, I just need to go through the paperwork and tally them up…”

How can you boost sales? There are many options, however two obvious ways are: review your current sales process, and develop your sales staff.

The issue

So I arrive at my new clients premises to do the exploratory meeting and see if I can help them boost their sales. First step? Review the process.

In response to a question like “So how are sales going at the minute?” I often get wordy answers which talk about results in a very general way. I enjoy hearing the owners’ perspective on it; it’s good to get a feel for their industry & business from their point of view.

However it’s when I start asking for specifics, “What volume of enquiries are you getting?” that I regularly get a response along the lines of: “We have that figure Steve; I just need to go through the paperwork and work it out…”

The response

It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again “if you can’t (or in this case don’t) measure it, you can’t manage it”

If you’re already tracking your enquiries – great! Be mindful here; are you only tracking this in terms of knowing where your valuable marketing budget should be spent? This is crucial of course, but it would be useful to know how effective you are with each of those leads wouldn’t it?

There are many ways to measure sales effectiveness, but here are some basic measurements that can help build a picture of your current business performance:

  1. Sales
    • a. Sales by number (volume of sales)
    • b. Sales in good old pounds sterling (value of sales)
    • c. Sales Conversion rate = ‘Total Sales’ divided by ‘Total Enquiries’
  2. Sales’ Cost
    • Cost of an Enquiry = ‘Total Marketing Spend’ divided by ‘Total Enquiries’
    • Cost of a Customer = ‘Total Marketing Spend’ divided by ‘Total New Customers’
    • Total Cost of a Customer = ‘Total Costs’ divided by ‘Total New Customers’
  3. Sales’ Value
    • ‘Average Worth’ of a customer = ‘Total Revenue’ divided by ‘Number of Customers’
    • …it’s also worth looking at the average lifetime of a customer.
    • ..and the most popular product choice.

N.B. The above calculations should have specific timeframes. To use the most obvious examples: Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly & Annual.

Interesting to note, often well established companies struggle to provide these figures, though the reasons be different from a start up business: perhaps they have too many measurements (can’t see the wood for the trees) or simply with the passage of time their ‘Key Performance Indicators’ are no longer ‘Key’ anymore!

So you want to boost your sales? You need to lead your salespeople! Current frontline sales-relevant figures are the first step!

Action: Does this relate to you & your business? If so, based on the above, what will you STOP doing, START doing and CONTINUE doing today?

Related Articles: This is the first in the series: “Boosting sales: Things my new business clients say to me” which follows this introductory piece ‘Your new business is exciting isn’t it!? DON’T talk about it!’ See it here: Part 1 Part 2


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In the last post I raised the idea that hearing about random aspects of your new business start-up is not necessarily what the customer wants.

Which depot the product has come from, or indeed difficulties in setting the service up, are unlikely to be helpful features! Giving unnecessary background info could even be detrimental to selling your fantastic product/service – loose lips sink ships, as they say.

The worst examples of this type tend to be around those features that aren’t developed. You know the ones: “our delivery service isn’t quite set up currently”, or “24hr functionality wasn’t ready for the launch date” etc. As a customer, isn’t it great to hear about something that you want, but can’t have yet? Of course not!

Simple steps to fix

  1. Ask questions about them, their use & their situation
  2. Then talk about what they can have (not what they can’t)
  3. Get to the sales decision, and regardless of the outcome
  4. NOW you can let them know about upcoming developments.

If they’ve already purchased, great! If not, you’ve made them aware for future reference. As a brief aside it’s probably a good idea in this case to get the customers details and contact him when the service he wants is up and running!

Okay so in truth, I’m not really saying don’t talk about your business at all. Local people are often interested in local businesses, especially new ones, and it IS a good way to build your relationship with your customers. Chatting enthusiastically about yourself and your business is great for developing that rapport.

The real point I’m trying to make here is to differentiate between background chit chat (optional) and the sales process that you will need to walk your customer through to solve their problem (obligatory!)

ACTION: Does this relate to you & your business? Based on the above, what will you STOP doing, START doing and CONTINUE doing today?


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So your new venture is probably consuming each and every day at the minute. It’s probably also a fair bet to say that you’re pretty passionate about this exhilarating step in your life to date. I’m no psychologist, but in these circumstances it would seem fairly natural to want to share some of the details with interested parties – right? No-one can fault you for that, can they? Of course not…unless they’re not human…

…hmm…or a stakeholder in this business…or a customer!!

All too often I have seen SMEs fall into this trap. The owner is so impassioned that he will talk more to his clientele about the business and its merits (or worse – it’s difficulties!) than about them (the customer) and their need.

Take the example of buying a radio. Do you want the audiophile salesperson to tell about every radio in the shop? No! Do you want to hear about where they came from?  Probably not. Do you want to hear about the latest & greatest radio? Maybe. What about the difficult morning they’ve just had? Gotta be a no, right?

How about if the clearly knowledgeable salesperson showed an interest in what you want the radio for, checked your planned/current use, thought for a moment and said:

“I have just the thing for you…you mentioned (X) well this radio is great because it (insert feature that delivers/improves X)…and something that I think will be really useful in your particular situation is (Y) because…”

…a resounding YES! I hope!

More to come in Pt 2!

ACTION: Does this relate to you & your business? Based on the above, what will you STOP doing, START doing and CONTINUE doing today?


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At the recent SWERDA annual general meeting, the great and the good from regional government and business agreed that investing in skills is the way to survive and thrive through the credit crunch.

Eminent panel members made a passionate and persuasive case for continued investment in skills by employers and local government. The gist of it was that in these straightened times it is even more important than ever to hold onto key staff. It is their skills and dedication that makes gives one company a core competence over another.

60% of current SME staff will still be in post in 10 years… another great reason to invest in their skills today.

When asked if they would be investing in training during this downturn, a straw poll of the estimated 200 businesspeople in attendance saw about 80 or so put their hands up. A brave handful said they would not or could not.

Now people are funny, and don’t always do what they say. If you’ve ever done any political canvassing you’ll know what I mean. During networking time at the meeting I asked a number of people whether they would, in fact, be spending on training and skills over the next period. Many privately admitted that, while they can see a case for it, they would have to think long and hard about using money on staff training, when it was getting more difficult to pay next month’s wage bill. Training was seen by these people as a cost, not an investment.

Happily my own employer takes the view that skilling up key employees is a good investment. So, it was a real shame that recently some training I’d lined up was cancelled by the training company, with no notice.

Don’t get me started on customer service.

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Mention that you are involved in ‘sales’ and some people will immediately put you in a ‘mental box’ along with oily double-glazing geezers, dodgy timeshare operators and pyramid scheme shysters. But, unless you are giving away your products and services FOC, someone has got to sell them. If you are proud of the business you are in, then you can be proud of being in sales – I know I am (there, I said it)!

My ‘moment of clarity’ about the profound rightness of being a good salesman came during a training session with Ian Cochrane of Gazing Performance. Up to that point, despite having marketed various publishing and design companies for more than 10 years, if I’m honest I was still nervous about being labelled a salesman.

But now I have a sort of roadmap for identifying a client’s needs, linking them to our services and presenting the positive impact they’ll have. It has transformed the way I work and how I feel about my job.

BHP enables larger organisations to successfully market to smaller businesses, and our sales situations are often complex. Having a roadmap means I always know where I am along the route.

Sales pays the wages at the end of the day – so those of us involved in this righteous profession can stand up and be counted. Lots of good stuff on selling right here.

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