What organisations can do to ensure they increase their sales.
1. Create a clear vision. It may sound obvious, but not all organisations have a clear direction that is known and understood by all staff. This should be cascaded to every level so that each employee understands how their contribution counts and so everyone can work towards the same goals. Everyone achieves more when they are clear what is expected of them and sales people are no exception.
2. Stay on top. Keep your eye on the market and your competition. You need to know what is happening in the market, what your competitors are offering and how your offer differs. Stay up-to-date with technology too or you won’t stay in the game. If all the other sales people are doing their presentations on iPads, you wouldn’t want your organisation to be considered behind the times, just because you did not provide your sales team with the same resources. Conduct a PEST review and if necessary change your marketing activities, delivery modes, pricing options.
3. Make sure you have a website and social media strategy. If you don’t have a website nowadays, you don’t exist. It is easy to become overawed by this task, so break it down and determine priorities. Some products are more suited to Facebook and others to LinkedIn. Whatever you decide, it is important to have a plan and be working towards it. Have you checked how easy is it for potential customers to find you and what incentive do they have to contact your business.
4. Be a “Great place to work”. Over recent years there has been much attention given to staff engagement. Gallup (2009) has shown a direct correlation between more engaged staff and better sales performance. It also helps you attract and retain high performing staff.
If your organisation suffers from low staff engagement, it will take time to reach a point where staff believe it is a great place to work. But it will also take time to develop a staff engagement strategy and have commitment to see it through. If staff engagement is reasonable at your organisation, overall sales results will still benefit from making it an even better place to work. There are many ways to achieve this. Contact Driving Force for more information on how to do this.
5. Recruit the right staff. It really helps if you can start with the right people. Effective recruitment implies current position descriptions setting out clear authorities and accountabilities. Then, it is not just a matter of saying to the candidate, “Do you think you can you do that?”. Take time to work out the best way to assess the candidate’s suitability for the role. More time spent recruiting effectively is less time and effort wasted afterwards, for everyone. Get it right and if you are not sure how to do this get some help.
6. Grow your staff. Now more than ever, we all need continual development. Think how much the world has changed in the last 5 years, or even the last 12 months. Investing in staff to stay up-to-date, allows your organisation to improve and maybe implement some of their leading edge ideas. Some organisations are worried that they might train their staff and have them leave. But there are much higher costs if you don’t train your staff and they stay.
7. Provide regular feedback. Managers should be in touch with their staff regularly, if not daily. Time and again research confirms that we work better when we feel connected at work. We need to know that someone is noticing what they are doing. Regular positive feedback is essential and if you talk often enough, then it is also easier to address negative behaviour when it occurs. The sooner an employee learns what they need to do, or need to stop doing, the sooner they can excel.
8. Address issues. Nothing gets resolved by sweeping it under the carpet. Staff issues are the notorious for this. The rotten apple does ruin the whole case. If you ignore a poor performance or someone who has a bad attitude gets away with it, it affects the culture. Pretty soon everyone else’s performance to slide too. If your staff do not enjoy working for your organisation, they will find it hard to convince customers to buy from you. Don’t take the risk of your dirty laundry being shown to potential customers.
9. Develop your managers. Good managers are pivotal to the success of an organisation. Most of the points discussed so far would be superfluous if you have good managers, because these items will already have been addressed. As well as the quality of the managers, consider how the organisation structures support managers.
10. Customer experience. Customer feedback is a free source of ideas for improvements. You may also wish to conduct your own mystery shopper research just to see what it is like for your customers. Think about ways that your organisation can add value to the customer and genuinely stay in touch. A year after getting my first pair of glasses I received a birthday present for my glasses, a new cleaning cloth; quite a novel approach, but also practical. At the same time they have protected themselves from me trying another optometrist.
11. Equip all your staff to be sales people. Everyone in your organisation should be trained to answer “Where do you work? What do you do? And what does the organisation do?” Your staff are in the best position to recommend your business. I wonder what they would say. Are they able to determine if the enquirer is an ideal prospect? Consider conducting our Sell More Than Ever Before program in-house.
12. Reward your staff appropriately. This is not just about paying staff what they deserve. It could be letting them attend professional development as a reward for a project handled well. Sales people in particular achieve much greater sales results with the right incentives. But it is also about the basics of recognising people’s contribution. A simple “pat on the back” can go a long way to motivating staff to keep giving more. Dan Pink’s research says that Autonomy, Master and Making a Contribution are strong motivators.
Research by Gallup 2009 as detailed by Wagner, R., and Harter, J.K., (2009) “12: The Elements of Great Managers”