Bruce runs a successful plastic surgery practice in Florida. He's a superb surgeon, but he isn't someone who likes the sound of "sales".
Christine runs a successful I.T. business that's doubled in size over the past four years. She is technically brilliant, but if you asked her to "sell" she'd get nervous and uncomfortable.
As someone who gets a deep look under the hood of hundreds of companies every year through our business coaching program I can tell you that this is a very common theme--a company with a great product or service struggles with the idea of sales. They find it intimidating, perhaps even a little "dirty".
If this feels familiar to you, relax--you are perfectly normal and your company can still grow and thrive.
With a little coaching any company and team member can improve sales performance and enhance your sales systematically.
Here are five of the most important sales fundamentals for your company especially if your company is a little "sales phobic".
- Lead Management: Know who you're selling to and what the next step in the sales process is at all times.Too many companies allow their "prospect funnel" to be an ad hoc collection of scraps of paper combined with mental notes in the heads of a few individuals. Not good enough, not by a long shot.
At a very minimum, you need one master spreadsheet holding all your sales prospects in one place. Add in three extra columns to your spreadsheet:
- Next Step? (e.g. "Call", "Email", "Send", "Meet", etc.)
- By whom?
- By When?
When you standardize this, and make it an automatic, systematic habit for every sales lead after every sales touch, you will maximize your follow up and make sure you don't miss anything. Plus, you can increase the efficiency of your sales follow up by sorting the spreadsheet by next step date, owner of that step, or by the type of next step. For example, you can sort the spreadsheet by "next step" and it becomes easy to batch your 6 follow up phone calls together.
The next systematic lead management step up is a full "CRM" system, but again the same concept applies--systematically log all sales touches, every time, and note clearly who owns what next sales step and by when.
One huge secondary benefit of this discipline is that you will no longer feel beholden to a sales person who holds all the key customer and prospect data in his head. It will all be inside your lead management system.
- Lead spotting: Train your entire team how to identify and handoff leads to your sales team.Imagine Rick meets with a client to help them with some follow on questions they have about your product or service. In the course of that work, Rick hears Tina mention a colleague at another business in need of the same solution that you provide. Have you trained Rick how to handle that situation? Have you empowered him with a simple playbook on how to gather and hand off that lead to your sales team in the optimal way? If not, you're missing a huge opportunity.
Script out the clues to how to spot a solid sales lead and hand that sales lead off to your sales team--and train and retrain your entire team on how to do it well.
One additional side benefit you'll enjoy is that this also reinforces with your entire team that "sales" (or "business development" if it feels less threatening) is the responsibility of the entire team.
- Rudimentary "Core Message" Training: Work with your entire team to help them get fluent with the core basics of how to describe your company and what it does in a professional context.
For example, when Wendy is at a business conference and someone asks her what she her company does, you want her to give a clean, professional "best answer" to that question. Don't leave it to chance. Script it out for your whole team, train them all on it, and let themrole play it until it is second nature.Here's a simple formula to do it well:
"You know how __[insert #1 biggest pain point of your target market that you solve]___, what we do is ___[share your solution]_________."
If you were to ask one of the people who work for my business coaching company Maui Mastermind, "What do you do?" this is the answer they would give you:
"You know how most business owners end up trapped in the business they built where if they weren't there the business would fail? What we do is help business owners grow their companies and get their lives back by coaching them through the exact process to build a business, not a job for themselves."
Go a step further. Train your entire team on the 5-10 key "talking points" of your core products or services so that they can best represent the company in the marketplace.
You don't have to do this all at once, but you do need a systematic way to codify, train, test, and track that your team stays proficient at this over time.
- Customer Feedback Loop: Create a simple mechanism for your staff to capture and share key customer data and feedback throughout your company.How do you share client victories throughout the company? How do you capture these victories for future reference?
At Maui Mastermind, when one of our business coaching clients has a breakthrough, we ask their coach to share the good news throughout the company. Not only does this connect our team to our mission of helping business owners build a business they love owning again, but it also helps our sales team learn a new story to share; it helps our coaching team have a new data point to help other clients; it helps our operations team better understand the life of a client and customize any communication with them to have greater power and impact.
What about ideas that your customers share with you? How do you capture those and share them throughout your company?
And finally, what about feedback on your product or service, how do you capture those and share them throughout your company?
The most successful companies are learning organizations that are always on the lookout for victories they can support, ideas they can learn from, and feedback they can use to refine their customer's experience and results.
- The "Sharing" Model: If your team is intimidated by the idea of "selling" (which most non-sales staff are) shift the context to that of "sharing" or "recommending".Make this a systematic discussion you hold with your team, area by area, and give them practice at roleplaying what it might sound like to "share" or "recommend" in the context of selling, upselling, cross-selling, or reselling a customer or prospect.
For the medical practices we coach, we shift this terminology to "patient compliance" or "recommended treatment compliance."
For our professional service firms that we coach we call it "business development".
All of these are just a way to reframe "sales" to make it more appealing and less intimidating to your team. And they all work very powerfully.
So there you have 5 core sales concepts to help your company systematically increase sales, especially if you aren't a sophisticated sales organization with deep sales experience.
None of this is rocket science, just good common sense applied in a systematic and structured way.
If you would like to get the in-depth details of how to grow your business and reduce its reliance on you, then please join me for a special webinar training I'm doing that's coming up very soon.
Good luck to you.