The Big 3 is a David Reid Group blog series designed to give you insight into the big issues in branding, marketing and selling. We break each topic down into 3 straight-forward points, so you can get the picture and get on with your day.
In the first post of our Barometer series The Market we identified that WA’s business climate is getting tougher and that if you need to take action, sales, not marketing, is the answer in the short term. Why? Sales is all about what’s happening right now, in the present: it’s about the result that your sales people can return today from all your company’s past marketing efforts. In contrast, the results of any money or time you put into marketing today will be reaped by a sales person many months into the future – but you need to see results now, right? Well, read on for the Big 3 of your new short term plan.
1. Get back to basics
If deals have, until lately, just walked through the door, your sales team may not be in the habit of systematically selling and are possibly unaware of opportunities that were, and still are, slipping by unrealised. Now is the time to examine the most efficient, and quickest, sales opportunities you have – those closest to you. It’s worthwhile reviewing our earlier blog post DRG Bounty – Selling, in particular the first point ‘Finding the deal’, but here’s a quick refresher:
- Proactively sell to your existing customers
- Leverage from those customers to new ones
- Drive a proactive networking strategy
- Go direct or – dare we say it – cold call
These strategies are listed in order of increasing effort and the simple idea is to mine the contacts you have first! If you protest that you already proactively sell to your existing customers, consider if you’ve really gotten to know them. Have you sat down and done a needs analysis with them? Do they feel like a highly valued customer who always has your full attention? Do you know if they would refer business to you? Why? Why not? The important thing to remember is that you may already be doing these things, but now you need to take a proactive and systematic approach – you want to know you’ve been down every alley.
2. Get back on the horse
If you take this route, it shouldn’t be a surprise if your sales people are a little rusty at these proactive sales basics. The best analogy is sporting: if they’ve lacked practice, your team will definitely be out of shape. The remedy is to get them out there building relationships again: their skills and confidence will soon get up to speed. They need to be visiting their clients, attending events, extending their networks and being a strong voice for your company in the market. You’ll need to acknowledge that this transition can be a stressful for them and provide reassurance that pushing through the difficulties will be worthwhile. Whatever you do, don’t let a lack of marketing materials stop your sales people from proactively selling: every day they wait for a website or a brochure, they are losing opportunities. Your sales team may genuinely need those marketing materials, but in the meantime they can certainly still sell without them.
3. Get real about sales management
If your company is getting back in the proactive selling game and you have no sales management in place, now you’re really going to need it. Ideally, you’ll need a sales manager to oversee the success of your new sales approach. The company will need to know if the changes are working: the sales manager monitors the sales and analyses the results, so they’re across both what’s going on and what the next step should be. The reporting tool you need is a sales pipeline report, and systematically working through this report is the key to sales success.
This Big 3 should start you on a very low cost strategy to increased sales right now. Once your sales team is on track, (if you’re one of the lucky ones you’re already in this position) you’ll start to get reliable feedback on what marketing you really need to invest in for the long term health of your sales. This is what our next post, DRG Barometer – Your long term plan, will address.
David Reid Group are experienced consultants who specialise in branding, sales and marketing in Perth, Western Australia.