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Sales Effectiveness Guide

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Sales effectiveness is a measurement of a company’s ability to succeed at each stage of the buying process, from the first interaction with the customer to the last. Most of the time, that interaction happens before a sales representative has even become involved, with the customer becoming engaged through marketing, or even the client’s own web search for a particular product or service.

The purpose of sales effectiveness strategies is to increase the company’s revenue through more involved processes that not only acquire new customers, but engage them, win their sales, and creates a relationship that encourages the sale of other products and services with that customer and others. Obviously, any company is going to want to increase its revenue, but sales effectiveness is crucial, and several companies have invested time and energy to boost the effectiveness of their sales processes with impressive results. With the training that Shapiro Negotiations offers, your company can achieve similar results.

Assessing Your Sales Effectiveness

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Improving sales effectiveness is best done through several multi-stage and systematic processes. The first step is, of course, to assess your team’s current sales effectiveness. According to a survey conducted by Vantage Point Performance and Sales Management Association, 44% of sales executives believe that their organization is ineffective at managing its sales pipeline. This study included 62 B2B companies, a third of which had revenues over $1 billion. There is a direct relationship between sales effectiveness and revenue, and it comes from this relationship between the sales reps, the pipeline, and sales managers.

In order to properly assess this relationship, it is crucial to create metrics to measure how effective your sales tactics are. These are ratios that quantifiably relate different aspects of the sales process to the actual revenue generated from sales. These can be sales vs. conversion rate, sales vs. win rate, sales vs. pipeline accuracy, etc. The metrics are important, and will ultimately arise from each team’s skills and perceptions of the pipeline. In a 2010 study by MASB as part of their Common Language in Marketing Project, 54% of 200 senior marketing managers found these sales effectiveness metrics to be useful.

Defining the Process

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After assessing your sales effectiveness, the next logical step is to improve the actual process itself. The best way to do this is to come up with a clearly defined sales process. The sales pipeline is, after all, just a representation of a team’s strategies, and the actual structure of the pipeline is what is most important when boosting sales effectiveness.

To do this, take the time to invest in a well-defined plan of action for the entire sales process. With the Corporate Sales Training and negotiation training that Shapiro Negotiations offers, companies won’t be forced to scrap the entire process and start from the beginning. Because each course is tailored to the individual client, SNI takes the client’s existing sales platforms and improves upon them, incorporating new tools, skills, behaviors, habits, and systematic processes.Because salespeople are able to keep using the processes with which they are familiar, the training and new tools don’t disrupt their work. Instead, the training incorporates those processes and improves upon them, enhancing the process’s ROI and improving sales effectiveness across the board.

As much as the sales process should remain a formal part of the company plan, however, it is important to pay attention to the team’s dynamics and to receive input from team members. Sales is an art, after all, and many sales reps are going to be more used to judging a situation for themselves. They should still be trusted with that, but by defining the flow of pipeline, you are strengthening it, cutting the fat away from the process to optimize it for all of your employees.

By viewing sales effectiveness as a systemic relationship between each part of the business, rather than a simple equation, it becomes clear that communication is paramount. Not only should managers be trained to communicate effectively with sales reps, but different departments, marketing in particular, must be involved in the communication as well. Marketing is most often the first encounter that a customer has with the company, and it is  an integral part of sales generation. Therefore, it is helpful to promote sales objectives across departments, and to get each department invested in the success of the company as a whole.

Marketing generates sales for the sales teams, and the sales teams close on those opportunities and build connections with the customers, who will likely recommend the product or service to others. This is how the ideal sales pipeline functions, but as simple as it seems, it requires a well thought out plan of action, along with clear objectives and incentives to foster communication.

It is possible to over-engineer a process, but without any structure it will be impossible to make changes that actually improve things. Too often, while trying to increase revenue, a company will rely on software or departmental shifts that do not actually bring improvement and only serve as a symbol of progress.

By communicating with many departments, and by facilitating communication, the process will actually come to define itself. By formalizing the process further, sales reps are able to follow previously-set precedents for customer interactions of which they may be unsure, and sales leaders can follow along the pipeline, keeping up with every part of the sale. Not only that, but sales managers can build contingencies for problems when they arise and neutralize them quickly, sometimes by intervening, but ideally by training the sales reps to adequately deal with any issues that may arise.

Up-keeping and Revitalizing the Pipeline

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This brings up another important aspect of sales effectiveness: management training. According to that same survey from Vantage Point, 61% of sales executives claim that their sales managers are not properly trained for the positions they occupy. Obviously, it is impossible for an employee to perform a job to the expectations they are given if little, or improper, training has been given.

Management training in sales effectiveness extends beyond simply projecting sales and using CRM tools, it means acquainting the managers with the pipeline as a process and having them make decisions on a daily basis, all while closely watching their team follow the pipeline. They need to understand which step is the most crucial, determine at what their team or even particular members are especially skilled, and then utilize those features to their full potential. Not only that, they need to understand the pipeline well enough to recognize when new technology needs to be implemented, perhaps to bolster a flagging step or streamline a step that takes too long for the rewards that it returns.

Along with training the management, it is recommended that at least a few hours each month should be used to manage sales effectiveness. This can take many forms, and will usually change from month to month. If meetings are held, they should consist of more than just sales projections—they should actually ask for input on the sales pipeline from participants, as well as suggestions for improvements. This time could also be well-spent reviewing the company’s sales effectiveness through your previously set metrics, or even proposing new metrics. Whether you are using the time for meetings, review, selection of employees who are well versed in the pipeline and giving them more training, or implementing new technology, actually spending the time is what’s most important.

The Results of Proper Sales Effectiveness

According to the Vantage Point study, companies that follow these basic guidelines, especially those who defined their process, saw an increase in their sales revenue of 28%. Further, those that spent at least 3 hours a month reviewing their pipeline and sales effectiveness saw an additional 11% increase in revenue over companies that did not.

Sales effectiveness is about more than revenue, though. By increasing the efficiency of your company’s communication, you trim away wasted work, wasted ideas, and wasted time while actually creating a better environment for all employees. A critical part of managing the pipeline is getting people invested, and when the pipeline conforms to skills that your team already has and has defined ways to foster those skills if they are lacking, then the value of everyone involved rises alongside the value of the company.

How to Encourage Corporate Social Responsibility

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The younger generations entering today’s workforce are far less concerned with benefits and compensation than previous generations were and are more concerned with sustainability, personal freedom, and responsible corporate citizenship. Today’s workforce wants to work for companies that are more concerned with helping their fellow man and the world than they are with their bottom lines.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a company’s commitment to sustainable operations and giving back to society and environment. It isn’t just the right thing to do – it has significant benefits for the companies that embrace it. Consumers do more research today on the products they buy and the companies they support than ever before, and they can do this research almost instantly from anywhere in the world.

CSR Encourages Innovation

Some companies have trouble maintaining high employee morale and some are looking for ways to make their employees feel more valued and engaged in their work. Driving a CSR-focused campaign is a great way to encourage creativity and boost workplace morale if the employees think they’re making positive changes for the world. Emphasize the importance of a CSR initiative during training sessions, so employees know why they’re doing what they’re doing, and why it matters to the company, their community, and the world.

Using CSR to Cut Costs

Corporate social responsibility can entail pursuing more sustainable energy solutions. Lean operations are quickly becoming the norm in the corporate world, and organizations are looking to cut unnecessary expenses, time sinks, and operations to work more efficiently. Doing so often involves adopting more eco-friendly solutions to workplace operations and saves operating costs at the same time. Your company’s employees and shareholders will be proud to associate with an environmentally responsible company.

CSR Sets Your Brand Apart

Committing to sustainable operating procedures, engaging in philanthropy (such as charity events), and adopting ethical labor standards are ways your company will stand apart as one that is concerned with the world’s wellbeing and wants to make a positive impact on it. The younger generation of consumers is also going to be more likely to support brands that are committed to sustainability and ethical operations, rather than simply looking for the best deals.

Building Long-Term Relevance

Creating a company culture with CSR as a bedrock value is a surefire way for a business to stay relevant in a constantly morphing world. Employees are more likely to find value in their work and daily routines when they know their organization is committed to helping make a better world for everyone they touch – their customers, partners, employees, shareholders, and their local communities all benefit from CSR-focused values and programs.

How to Handle High-Pressure Negotiators

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Everyone has their own ways of handling high-stress and high-pressure situations, and negotiators often employ manipulative tactics to gain the upper hand. Don’t let them!

Emotional Ploys

Your opposition may feign offense or indignation at your offer, as if it is far below a reasonable expectation. If you know your offer is fair, it’s important to stand your ground and start a dialog about what the opposition thinks is unreasonable. If there is no acceptable, logical answer, your opponent may be trying to bait you into making a lowball offer.

You may encounter a good cop/bad cop routine. One member of the opposition may seem to be on your side and on board with an offer, while another seems inordinately opposed to it. This tactic is meant to encourage you to compromise. Be wary.

Sometimes, you may see emotional outbursts that are meant to make you uncomfortable and speed you toward an immediate agreement for the sake of social propriety. While you may be tempted to give in, your best response to any outrageous emotional behavior is silence: Wait for the display to end and carry on professionally.

Distractions

A red herring tactic is one where the opposition will bring up a completely unrelated topic to derail a conversation. Saying the topic has nothing to do with the issue at hand  may make you look aggressive. Instead, shelve the topic until you finish handling the important issues.

The opposition may sometimes try to bombard you with data that appears to support their position but is nothing more than a distraction. Once you realize this, ask what specifically this information has to do with the conversation at hand.

Refusals and Walkouts

In extreme cases, the opposition may attempt to stonewall you with a negotiator who absolutely will not budge on any issue. Don’t be afraid to ask for a new representative. The opposition may also demand an immediate resolution and threaten to leave if you don’t acquiesce. The best thing to do in this situation is to let them leave. More often than not, they’re trying to gain the upper hand by forcing you to make a play. The best play you can make is to show them that you’re not interested in working with someone who is willing to walk out on a deal. If they need the business, they’ll change their tune.

These may be some extreme examples, but every negotiator is going to resort to some tactics to get the best deal for their side of the table. While you may be tempted to resort to some of the sleazier tactics (especially when you’re sure they’ll have the desired effects), it’s important to maintain the high road and represent your company with integrity, honor, and grace.

 

Sources: http://www.bakercommunications.com/archive/apr13/negotiation040113.html?campId=70140000000flkz

https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/10-dirty-negotiation-tactics-and-how-to-beat-them/

http://www.calumcoburn.co.uk/articles/negotiation-tactics/

http://negotiatelikethepros.com/overcome-the-top-ten-neg-tactics/

 

 

Three Selling Techniques to Avoid and What to Do Instead

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Through Corporate Sales Training, you can learn that sometimes your potential clients may be interested in what you have to offer, but your demeanor turns them off. While the temptation to “go in for the kill” on an interested lead may arise, it’s important to be mindful of the image you project. Are they going to feel valued? Will they have a positive impression of your interaction that they’ll remember for future sales?

You may be surprised when you hear some of the more manipulative and underhanded sales tactics being used today. Negotiation is an art, and the compromise is the key to successful negotiation. Tricking customers won’t enhance your organization’s reputation or your own as a trustworthy salesperson. We’ve compiled a list of some sales tactics that may be tempting but which you should certainly avoid.

Bait and Switch

A customer enters a store planning to buy a promotional item, only to find it isn’t available or wasn’t depicted accurately in the advertisement. The salesperson then immediately encourages the more expensive option. While it may be tempting to try to get something into the hands of every customer who comes to your store, they’re going to leave disappointed if they can’t get what they intended to buy, and will only grow more frustrated if you attempt to upsell them on something they don’t want.

Instead, turn the interaction into a conversation. Ask them why they wanted that particular item and find out what they thought it would do for them. You can then offer something that fits their needs or correct any misunderstandings they may have had about the initial item. You may be able to turn a failed sale and frustration into a future sale. They’ll appreciate the time you took to answer their questions and address their needs, even if you didn’t have the right product at the time.

The “Flyfish” Close

This technique puts pressure on the buyer to make an immediate decision, possibly by offering a percentage discount if the item is purchased immediately. While you might assume that instant savings would appeal to buyers, customers know when you’re pressuring them into buying something they don’t need.
Rather than pushing for an immediate close, take the time to find out exactly what your customer is looking for and what you have that fits the bill. By taking the time to address their needs, they see you are more concerned with them being pleased with their purchase than you are with just making a sale.

Assuming the Sale

You want to ask for the sale, not assume you’ve made it. Using assumptive language with a customer is an excellent way to turn them off from buying anything from you again. Assuming the sale usually stems from the seller’s expectation that if the customer seems to be indicating that they’re buying something, they’re rude if they don’t. What actually happens is that the customer feels rushed.

Don’t assume that because the buyer displays interest that you’ve got the sale. Wait for them to make closing statements and ask them if they want to complete the sale. They may have lingering questions; address them fully so they can feel confident about their purchase.

 

Marketing Objectives: A Step by Step Guide

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In 1999, management consultant Peter Drucker wrote that “business has only two functions—marketing and innovation.”  Innovation is, of course, a key aspect of business; after all, innovation is what leads to a company having a product or service to sell in the first place. But once the product is created, it’s crucial to spread the word and convince people that it’s worth their time and money.

Truly successful marketing requires setting specific goals and objectives. Otherwise, efforts can break down very quickly, resulting in a lot of expended resources with very little to show for it.

What are marketing objectives?

So what do we mean when we refer to marketing objectives? Marketing objectives are simply the goals that a company sets as it goes about promoting its products and services, all within a pre-set time frame. For example, one objective might be to boost a particular demographic’s awareness of the product. Another might be to make information about the product’s features readily available.

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What makes an effective marketing objective?

In order to develop effective marketing objectives, there is a simple mnemonic device to follow: SMART. Marketing objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed.

Specific

Broad objectives such as “We want to improve our business” really only have one effect: they delay the burden of actually figuring out what actions need to be taken. While this might seem appealing in the short term (because who doesn’t want to get out of a meeting that’s already drawn on longer than it needs to?), in the long term, it really does nothing but waste everyone’s time and energy.

Each objective should be given its own plan, with the necessary steps laid out, in order to be truly effective. For example, if a company wants to develop a new product, that requires one plan. If the same company wants to spread awareness of that product, that would require a separate plan. As your objective’s parameters get broader, it becomes easier to miss key steps that must be taken in order to achieve that objective. The more specific you are when laying things out at the beginning, the more smoothly the entire process will go.

Measurable

A simple declaration of “We want this campaign to do better than last year’s” means nothing. What does “better” mean in this circumstance? Set specific, trackable metrics in order to measure exactly how you are performing. Rather than, “Make our brand recognizable across the country,” a marketing objective such as, “Boost our website’s traffic by 5%” would be more effective. Other potential metrics might include the number of units sold, the amount of profit achieved, the amount of sales revenue, or the number of actionable leads generated.

A well-designed marketing objective will also have checkpoints and milestones built in. If the deadline is six months away from the start date, a monthly review of current progress toward that goal can help to adjust tactics and figure out what changes might need to be made.

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Achievable

A marketing objective that is impossible to reach doesn’t help anyone. On the contrary, it is setting the team up for failure, which can lead to a negative effect on performance. Take a look at past performance. If previous numbers are nowhere close to the objective you have set, then chances are you won’t reach your goal. Smaller, reachable goals mean that your team is achieving small successes and taking clear, visible steps toward the goal.

Realistic

This goes hand in hand with having achievable marketing objectives. When you are building your marketing objectives, take a look at your resources and infrastructure and ask yourself, “Do we have the setup to achieve this?” Do you have the necessary number of staff members to handle the necessary workload? Do those staff members have the necessary equipment or other resources to perform the necessary work? Do you have the contacts needed to reach your objective? Do your staff members have the proper training?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” perhaps these are additional objectives your company should plan on. If you lack the staff, then create a solution to increase your workforce. If your staff needs additional equipment, set up a plan to acquire that equipment. Ensure that your staff receives the necessary training, whether that is negotiation training—to better learn how to work with both customers and vendors—or training on a necessary marketing tool. To better prepare your workforce with the proper negotiation skills to deal with customers and vendors, take a look at the negotiation training Shapiro Negotiations offers.

Timed

Finally, an effective marketing objective needs to have a solid time limit. Otherwise, rather than a plan, it becomes nothing more than a nebulous wish that will come about “whenever it happens.”

Which means never!

Create a solid target ending date. Then, depending on how far in the future that date is, set regular dates to check in on your progress. As time goes on, reevaluate and adjust the objectives to make sure that, as circumstances change or problems make themselves known, you are still able to achieve that final objective.

Defining your market objectives

So where should you start when creating your own market objectives? Here are two simple tips to follow to simplify the process:

  • Figure out why you’re creating the objective in the first place. Setting a marketing objective just for the sake of having a marketing objective is not going to do very much for your business. Take a look at previous performance and future goals. Does setting a new marketing objective improve performance or help to achieve those goals? Once you know what exactly you are hoping to achieve, it will become much simpler to design the objective and hone it into the exact tool you need.
  • Start with the objective—not the budget. The budget might be the instinctual place to start planning. After all, if the money isn’t available, then what good can the plan do? But if the objective is not well-defined and tailored to the actual needs of the company, then is the budget wisely spent anyway? The proper approach is as follows:
    • Set measurable objectives – These include financial objectives such as revenue, profits, and ROI, as well as marketing objectives, such as leads generated and content creation like blog posts, infographics, and other media.
    • List the necessary actions to achieve each of those objectives – This should include deadlines, actions that need to be taken and the person responsible for those actions, and contingency plans. If one of the actions is not successful, there need to be plans in place. Otherwise, all of the work that has already gone into the project is wasted.
    • Build a profit/loss projection of your plan – This should be a detailed budget that shows the allocation of resources. With the plan in place, you already know exactly what needs to be done, and you can plan around that. If the potential profits are high enough, you can likely justify a higher budget to accommodate the plan.

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A few marketing objectives to keep in mind

It can be daunting to set your company’s marketing objectives from scratch. As a launching point, here are a few common marketing objectives to keep in mind as you lay out your company’s plan.

Building Brand Awareness

One of the first marketing objectives to reach for is to build awareness for your brand. People cannot buy from you if they don’t know you exist. Take Microsoft, for example. These days, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of the tech giant, but that wasn’t always the case. Largely due to the marketing prowess Bill Gates demonstrated in the 1990s, Windows operating systems grew to be used in nearly 90 percent of all activity on the Internet in 2010. Although the market share has dropped slightly since then, it still easily remains one of the most commonly used operating systems.

While brand awareness used to be limited to posting flyers, print ads, and billboards, the digital age has caused methods to evolve. As a rule, investing in online marketing usually provides the greatest return on your investment.

Social Media

Social media efforts grants one of the biggest audiences for showcasing your brand. Approximately 90 percent of adults ranging from 18 to 29 years old use social media. The majority of consumers will research a company online before making a purchase, and active social profiles and regular updates can work wonders when it comes to engaging those consumers.

Blogging

A lot of companies provide a blog on the website, though not all are able to fully capitalize on it. A blog can do more than just boost the business’s SEO results. Information about a company or industry also helps to boost the reputation and awareness of the organization. Interesting and engaging blog posts also provide content for people to share on social media, which works to broaden awareness of a product or brand.

Customer Service

Customer service plays a vital role in several key points of any business and can be a crucial part in achieving your marketing objectives. It builds your reputation in a positive way while enhancing the awareness of the brand. Because return business is important for continued success, it may be prudent to invest in service training for your employees who will be directly interacting with customers.

Increasing Sales

Marketing objectives should include strategies to increase sales of products and services. After all, income is what keeps the doors open. This can involve a large number of practices, but here are a few that may be beneficial for your company. 

Sales and discounts one common approach to increasing revenue, especially for businesses that deal primarily in e-commerce. Coupon codes are often seen in pay-per-click campaigns to entice consumers. Some online companies will include credit vouchers with shipped items. If consumers believe they are getting a good deal, they often will be more willing to spend money. Free shipping for orders past a certain dollar amount can also encourage additional spending.

Social Engagement

Brand awareness is not the only arena where social media can have a positive impact; it can also play a part in increased sales. Many companies will use YouTube to demonstrate products or services, while others will display imagery on sites like Pinterest. Both of these examples can include a direct link back to your website, where viewers can purchase the product or service immediately.

Offer New/Complementary Products and Services

Offering new products to the masses keeps the consumers interested in the brand. You can’t rely on the success of one item to carry your company into the future. You may want to consider diversifying your organization to engage new customers or further entice the ones you already have.

Include items that can complement what you provide. For example, Symantec recently announced that it was acquiring Blue Coat so as to expand its product offerings and better serve its existing clientele with new Blue Coat technology. Perhaps you could expand the inventory to include products that are often used by your consumers, such as a lawn care service offering garden supplies. Understanding your target consumer can help you deliver the most profitable elements and expand your marketing objectives.

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Evaluating your success

Keeping regular tabs on your objective is crucial. It’s not just something you can set on autopilot and leave. Fortunately, if you planned the objectives well at the start, this should be relatively simple. Whatever you set as the criteria for your marketing objective—website traffic, social media shares, or even revenue—that is the metric used to gauge your success. As time goes on, you can compare the actual numbers to the milestones you determined in the initial stages of planning. If you are not meeting your goals, then it is time to reevaluate your methods and make any changes necessary.

Nicolas Watkis put it succinctly: “Marketers won’t succeed if they don’t have objectives.” Planning out exactly what the business needs and monitoring goals as time passes will speed your company along towards those objectives much more quickly and efficiently than running in circles with vague claims that something needs to be done.