Recently, I provided five options for New Year’s resolutions for struggling sellers and managers who had a less than awesome 2018. If none of these options seemed attractive, here are five additional things you can do to reset your sales compass for 2019—plus some information to help make these resolutions part of your sales routine to improve sales performance.
1. Think like an owner.
A great way to improve your credibility with a new business prospect is to engage them in conversations about the things they deal with as the owner (or executive) of a business. To do this you must think like an owner!
If you are going to think like an owner, you need to have basic business acumen. Here are three key areas we recommend as a starting point:
- How the business runs.
- How they spend their time.
- How trends impact their business.
Focus some of your preparation on understanding more about the industry and business you are targeting. And be prepared to discuss your findings and learn more during your meeting. Approach each new prospect as a way to increase your business acumen. Your research and conversations with business owners and business managers are opportunities to learn something new and start to think like an owner.
2. Ask better questions.
Clients and prospects judge you by the questions you ask. Additionally, asking great questions will enhance your credibility and separate you from the pack of sales slugs! Different types of questions lead to different conversations. Ask your questions in a way that will uncover the prospect or client’s desired business results. You want to keep asking questions in a way that will zero in on the most important assignment. Here’s a lit of things to consider when developing and asking questions:
- Ask questions informed by insights.
- Start wide and then go narrow.
- Ask one question at a time.
- Listen actively and take notes.
- Ask mostly open-ended questions.
- Ask closed-ended questions to narrow down and improve clarity.
- Go fishing for trouble.
- Set-up and then follow-up on sensitive topics.
- Remember to ask, listen, ask.
3. Create proposals that don’t suck!
Here’s a template to use to create better proposals that close more often for the dollars you desire:
- Cover Page
- Desired Business Result
- Measures of Success
- Tailored Solution
- Critical Path
One page (or one PPT slide) per bullet point is all you need. Excluding any of these elements will negatively impact your closing ratio and often delay the sale.
4. Make measuring success part of your sales process.
It’s important to have open and upfront conversations about how the advertiser measures success early and often during the sales process. Your questions should differ based on where you are in the sales process.
- Start your inquiries about how success is measured early in the discovery process.
- Continue the conversation as you build the solution.
- Carry your dialogue into the final recommendations stage of the selling process.
Don’t settle for just one measure: It’s a mistake to get just one measure. Go deeper until you have at least 2 to 4 ways that you both agree to use to measure success. Having one form of measurement can be as bad as having none.
You will create a better solution if you have more than one way to measure success, and you will also increase the chances of receiving credit for success. For example, if a Ford dealer told you they needed to sell 20 more F-150s a month, you could probe further and add additional measurements like:
- More traffic at the dealership.
- More F&I forms filled.
- More time spent on certain inventory web pages.
- More visitors engaging in chats on the website.
5. Develop better campaign recaps.
Here’s a good rule of thumb related campaign recaps: only create and deliver a recap to customers you want to keep!
As you create your campaign recap, look for ways to translate the data into plain English especially when selling integrated solutions that include digital. You need to provide the play-by-play portion (all the numbers), but you also need to add the color commentary, so they understand why the numbers are important. Providing a data dump of information is not sufficient.
Note: you don’t have to wait for a campaign to conclude before sending a recap—it is often a good idea to send a recap during a campaign to make sure things are on course or to get things back on track. Here’s a format that works well:
1. Campaign Overview (what we set out to achieve)
- Campaign Dates
- Report Dates
- Today’s Date
- Desired Business Results
- Measures of Success
2. Executive Summary (what is happening so far)
- 3 to 4 bullet points that give an overview of results.
- What is on track and being delivered.
- What type of responses you are seeing.
- What type of testing or changes you have made.
3. Campaign Performance (results and analytics insights)
- Where it applies, you want to present the results in the context of the consumer journey (attract, engage, convert, advocate).
- You want to cover all the basic campaign components and analytics and provide them as a story, not a list of numbers.
4. Creative Execution (sample creative in context of the campaign)
- Banner Ads
- Links to landing pages
5. Recommendations (how to optimize going forward)
- What to keep doing and why.
- What to stop, start, or change and why.
- What to watch and why.
If your company already has a format in place for recaps, it’s a good idea to confirm that you are addressing these areas and tweak the existing recap format.
If you or a salesperson on your team had a disappointing 2018, the ball is in your court. Last year is in the rearview mirror, and the time to make some changes is here. If you are not a person who is into resolutions, that’s not a problem. There are plenty of great resources available to help improve your sales performance. Make a resolution or blaze a new trail, call it what you want — just do something different and make things happen!