Yes, the world of business and especially B2B selling is getting more complex every day. The decision-making processes of buyers, especially on larger deals, are taking up to 20% longer than five years ago.
And the decision-making process usually involves a range of people, not just one key decision-maker. Making a good sale involves many moving parts.
So, what can we do to improve our sales results now?
Here are five things you can do immediately to help you win more sales and keep the sales momentum going.
1. Build your sales pipeline
You usually need 3-4 times your sales budget in your pipeline. So for example, if your annual sales budget is $1 million then you need to make sure that you have around $3m-$4m worth of viable deals that you are working on to hit your targets. Check what’s in your sales pipeline now. Is it full enough of viable opportunities to give you the best chance of hitting your sales targets? If not, get out now and prospect for deals that are right for your business and can fill your sales pipeline.
2. Make prospecting a regular daily activity
Make sure you make time to prospect every day. To start with, look at your target market and check out your current clients, lapsed clients, and those prospects you pitched to before. Go back over those contacts and prioritise who fits your target market(s) now and then call them. Make sure you have a valid business reason (VBR) or two to use when contacting them and organise to meet and discuss new opportunities. Then once you have exhausted these areas go and research other businesses in your market place and prospect to them as well.
3. Ask for referrals
This is a great way to build bridges to your next sale. It’s a good approach to warm up a cool or cold contact. If you have done good work for your clients and they are happy with what they have received from you, then why not ask them if they can introduce you to people in their network who could benefit from what you have to offer. Explain to your clients and referral partners what types of people and companies you would like to get introductions to and how, in general, you can help them. Your referee needs to be able to explain simply what you do to others so that they can easily refer you. Always offer to reciprocate the other way too i.e. how you can help your clients or referral partners.
4. Follow up
Salespeople usually put in a lot of effort getting in front of prospects to sell and then send out or present a proposal or quote as part of the sales process. The sale isn’t over until the deal is won and signed. Don’t leave all that hard work to chance. Just because a prospect has a proposal does not mean that they will buy. We need to follow up on the proposal or quote and work the sales process until it is won or lost. That means being proactive. Stating how you would like to proceed with the prospect in terms of the proposal, getting their feedback, asking them for further insights, a decision timeline, etc.
Unfortunately, the decision-making process for buying is stretching out and being delayed. This is often due to more people being involved in the process, leading to ‘management by committee’ and the often wide range of choices or challenges competing for the time and attention of the buyer(s). We need to take control and, within reason, work with clients to help them make informed decisions about working with us.
5. Keep yourself sales fit
The best way to keep on top of your career is to be fit. Stay informed of what the sales profession in general – and your industry in particular – is doing. Read blogs, books, and follow thought leaders. Invest in training. Nowadays there is a plethora of options to develop or enhance skills with e-learning.
As we know, it’s a constant juggling act. We need to keep a number of balls in the air, and be disciplined and prioritise our efforts.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.