Helping Business Succeed

When Sales Slump

When sales slump, companies need to concentrate on becoming even more sales process focused.

Firstly let me state that most slumps are statistically normal and often can lead to new opportunities. Being positive and having a fresh approach can assist greatly.

Long term the best outcomes will be achieved by making your company a sales focused company.

You can only develop so much new product, produce so many units, set up so many systems but at the end of the day you need sales. Sales will define your success or failure.  Work toward creating a culture of “Sales focus” and being totally supportive to your sales functions.

Equip your sales teams with the skills and behaviours to become brilliant at their abilities to sell and promote your company products and services.  Think about the roles and responsibilities of your Sales managers and their teams. Encourage good sales process through planning, prospecting, conversions and follow ups.

Sales Managers need skills to be able to produce the results you need in the tough economic situations we face. It is tough out there and your teams need to be better able to sell than your competitors – getting the story right – giving compelling reasons why your prospects and clients value your products and services more than their cash!

Review their skill base. Sales Managers will need a solid commercial understanding and an ability to understand the various impacts across the business. They will need abilities in planning, analysis, time management, finance, decision making, generating sales and margins, and broad industry experience with top notch product and market knowledge. They will need the ability to coach, counsel, motivate and reward your sales teams.

In the short term the answers for fixing a slump is to increase sales activity levels.

First, consider the sales funnel for your company. Your ratio of prospects to qualified prospects and to conversions all are important. It will probably be around 4:2:1 so for every 4 prospects you may qualify two and get one new client. It’s a numbers game. How many prospects are your teams finding, qualifying and closing.

While you can always improve, acquiring new accounts breaks down to a series of numbers and ratios of success.  Prospecting is like a huge funnel and the numbers at the top of the funnel represent the number of contacts that you initiate and the bottom of the funnel (the outflow) represents ultimate sales.  The more you put in at the top, the more you achieve at the bottom.

Goal-setting determines what you need to do and triggers the discipline that’s needed to sustain your calling average and conversion to a sale.  To start the goal-setting process, you first decide how many new accounts you need to acquire on a yearly basis.  Let’s assume that the number is 50 accounts for the year.  Next, you should determine how many prospects you need (an estimate) to provide you with these 50 accounts.  This is a personal, industry, or company estimate based on experience; with time, you can refine the number.

Suppose your closing ratio is 4:1, in that for every four qualified prospects you find, you can reasonably expect to sell one.  If this rough formula holds true, it means that you need to search out 200 qualified prospects during the year in order to sell 50.

The telephone is a fantastic tool for accessing and qualifying prospective buyers.  It’s also a great time-saver in terms of eliminating travel and waiting time.  The key to using the telephone, if you’re not familiar with it, is to sell the appointment rather than trying to do your selling over the phone (or getting trapped into it by the prospect’s questions).  With planning, and good skills, the telephone is clearly the most efficient method for prospecting large numbers of potential accounts.  On the downside, you have to be skilful in overcoming obstacles like voicemail and “gatekeepers” who try to screen you from the decision-maker.

The objective of prospecting is to get a qualified appointment or be able to transition from a prospecting call into a qualified presentation.

The key to successful selling is successful prospecting.  It is THAT important.  Unquestionably, the route to an order or new account begins with prospecting.  Your skills at prospecting will determine, to a great extent, how successful a salesperson you are.  The secret to effective prospecting is to build up a backlog of prospects so abundant that you will never have to worry about where to go or whom to call on.  You have an organised plan for every working day.

I encourage you to start this process today. Your sales results will only be ever as good as your ability to prospect.