Most salespeople and most sales teams rarely hit, let alone exceed, sales targets. In rare cases the reason might be the economy or changes in technology that result in a shrinking opportunity. Most of the time, however, failure is because salespeople and sales management are simply not doing the basics that lead to a reasonable level of success.
Here are six steps to consistently exceed sales targets.
- Create a highly defined and written business plan. Without an overall business plan different aspects of the business will tend to move toward different goals. Long-term goals are often substituted by many short-term goals. This dilutes the energy and the resources of the business. A written plan, shared with the entire team, sets everyone in the organization on the same path and creates synergies.
- Ensure you have a proven sales process. A sales process is much like a business plan but designed specifically for sales efforts. A well-designed sales process allows us to know the resources available and the results from the use of those resources. Every cause has an effect, know your cause and know your effect.
- Create measurable, teachable Key Performance Indicators. KPI’s are at the heart of every successful sales process but they shouldn’t be mindless – just chasing the numbers. When a sales team or salesperson is new it is important to make the cold calls, send the emails and do the work on LinkedIn to create and fill a pipeline of leads that will converted into prospects and then customers. Once the pipeline is full then the team can work on quality testing and refining the approach.
- Create a sales-focused organization. This is a big one and most businesses get this wrong. A sales-focused business is exactly that – selling is the focus of the business and everything else built around the selling function. When this is the case your business does not have an uphill battle to sell what you have. You first prove that you have a saleable product or service and then design the rest of the business – accounting, production, and delivery around supporting the sale! Too many businesses are in a continual fight with salespeople and customers while hoping for more sales. A sales focused organization supports the sale at every client touchpoint!
- Train all of your people. Selling is like any other skill – such as football. Most people are quick to say footballers, like Beckham, are successful because they’re talented. But pay attention to this quote by Alex Ferguson, David Beckham’s early mentor and coach at Manchester United, “Beckham practiced with a discipline to achieve an accuracy that other players wouldn’t care about.” Beckham trains six hours a day six days a week. Most salespeople I meet have not read a book on sales or taken a sales course for years – are they really performing at their best? When a salesperson succeeds train the team to do the same and raise the game for everyone.
- Align and leverage every activity. In too many organizations the salesperson gets an order then is told by production that they cannot deliver, by accounting that the payment terms are not acceptable and by the owner to say they should sell what we have, not what the customer wants. What percentage of your customers would never work with you again because you delivered late or your quality was not to the level promised? Get your entire team working as a team toward winning the sale.
Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the earth – Archimedes
Sales success is a process of action, measurement and refinement. Discipline is essential to sales success!