Steps to Improve Sales
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
The steps explained in this four-part article are offered to those who know: there are no shortcuts to sales excellence. This article was written for those who are prepared to learn what is required in order to achieve reliable success in sales. At this level of professionalism, you are beyond generic tips and tricks; you understand the value of solutions that: (1) respect your uniqueness, (2) are comprehensive, and (3) deal with the realities to sell successfully. In sales, "success" means: sufficient accomplishment from a reliable process. You must be able to explain that process—in detail. That is, you must know—through a discovery process of trial and error—what consistently leads to favorable results from your sales efforts.
The potential value of this article cannot be derived from quickly skimming topic headings. Take the time to read through this material with your full attention. The article offers direction on achieving greater sales potential and may be worth your careful consideration.
The course to greater sales success requires a solid foundation and structure by which to organize and guide sales activity. While approaches to sales vary among sales operations, this foundation and structure will serve most situations. In order for this course to improve sales such that they’re effective for you, consider what is required of you from the outset. There are four primary requirements:
1. Willingness to learn
Learn = question what you know, seek new knowledge, accept failures and mistakes
2. Willingness to change
Change = know your options, have a valid basis for decisions, commit to improvement
3. Value of verifiable information
Know= know what is important, know how to obtain, assess, and gain insight from data
4. A plan for success
Plan = understand and accommodate the requirements for productivity
If, at this point, you remain interested in knowing how to achieve reliable sales improvement, following are some essential steps in that endeavor.
The starting point to improvement is knowing where you stand. Consider what you know about sales. Separate your knowledge from your assumptions and consider the validity and relevance of your knowledge.
Many people who work in sales are not proactive in the development of their knowledge. They learn a methodology that remains with them throughout their sales careers, although sales situations—how best to engage buyers, for example—change. Salespeople should update their knowledge about sales and subjects related to selling, such as knowledge about how to communicate effectively, how to create intrigue, and the psychological factors of human interaction in various situations.
Sales is about the conversion of a potential for sales into actual sales. It is not useful to view sales as a "numbers game" without knowing which numbers are at issue, how those numbers were determined (are they valid?), and how those numbers may be reliably attained. Rather, it is generally more useful to understand sales as a creative profession centered on conversion. The numbers point of view values an aim. The conversion perspective values means by which to achieve a name. The “aim” aspect of sales work is elementary. The heart of the profession is to discover the most effective and profitable means by which to attain the aim (a sales goal)—to reliably convert sales opportunities.
Conversion is not merely the point at which a prospect becomes a client. Conversion occurs at several points across a sales process. The first point is when a salesperson first connects with a prospective client to introduce their company. As the prospect becomes aware of the salesperson's product or service, an important conversion—from unawareness to awareness—has occurred. The conversion of prospective clients is progressive; it transpires across several steps of a process. Progressive conversion is a process that, in its design and strategies, accommodates the points at which a prospect advances toward becoming a client. Identify a primary objective for each step in your process that supports the specific points of development of your prospect into a client.
Evaluate your resources—from support tools to list of prospects
Sales work—from prospecting to securing a sale—generates a variety of important data that must be managed in order to support sales improvement. Lost or mismanaged information can create issues and problems that cost sales. Develop a data management system in which to record valuable information, which should include the status and projected value of a prospective client. Create profiles for your prospects—decision makers and their companies. "A-level" profile information is most valuable. This is information usually gained during meetings with the prospect, which is information that is not available online. "B-level" profile information is information that is available to everyone online, such as what may be found on a company's web site or a contact's social media posts.
Assess your team and your operation. "Sales operation" simply refers to how you have prepared to sell your products and/or services. Every sales operation, to some extent, is comprised of two parts: the operational and the executional. The operational side involves everything related to your preparation to sell. The executional side involves everything related to your actual efforts to sell.
Consider your efforts to sell in the context of the IDEAL framework. Your findings from this exercise will define the current condition of your sales operation. Improved sales will follow from improvements made in these five areas:
I.D.E.A.L. is a model by which to create a productivity plan. IDEAL is an acronym for these related areas of the plan:
1. Intend: your goal, what you aim to achieve, and related considerations.
2. Direct: a decision for a course of action and the structure to support those actions in order to achieve a goal.
3. Engage: the performance levels—activities and results—required in order to ensure progress toward the goal.
4. Assess: an evaluation of data that provides insight into progress and areas where improvements in the plan or its execution are required.
5. Learn: the final step is essential to improvement. Here, change in the plan or its execution is determined in order to safeguard success.
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