6 simple steps to sharpen your sales process

Sales training expert Shaun Thomson goes back to basics to help you win more business

Being in sales is no easy gig – especially in the current economic climate. With even the UK losing its triple-A credit rating, it seems no one is safe from business pitfalls.

However, there are many businesses that are succeeding – even thriving – in the recession. Those businesses aren’t doing well by chance, they have put strategic and intelligently crafted plans in place to give their businesses and sales programmes a boost.

Here’s how to make the most of your sales programme and how to transform your business in 2013.

1. Get organised

It seems simple, but setting yourself up for success is imperative in the sales process. Begin by defining who you want to target and what you want to say to them. Take time to look at the stages you need to go through in your sales process and try and quantify the activities you need to be doing to put yourself in front of prospective clients. This is part of breaking the large annual sales down into manageable bite-sized pieces

2. The art of listening

It’s reasonable to assume that if you look and act like every other salesperson in the world, that is how you’ll be treated. The amount of sales you make is proportional to the amount of information you gather, not the information you give. One of the greatest skills you need to master in a sales environment is to be an effective listener. Address the potential prospect by acknowledging their problems and then ultimately, how your product or service can help address them.

3. Track your progress

How are you supposed to learn if you don’t track your progress and amend your processes? It’s important to have basic structure in place so you can monitor your progress in getting in contact with those key prospective customers

4. Learn your lessons

A part of this is setting time aside to debrief after a prospect meeting and documenting your learnings. If the interaction went well, what can you take from that to replicate in other meetings? If it didn’t go well, what is the one thing you could have done better and can you practice it through by yourself for the next time?

5. Don’t give it away for free

Free consulting is one of the most dangerous things a sales person can do.  And it’s a vicious cycle, the more you do, the less you win. And then the less you win. The more free consulting you feel you need to give in order to engage a prospect and keep them interested. Sales is a two-way street, and your time and expertise is worth something – so don’t give it away for free!

6. Go easy on yourself

The sales process doesn’t have to be a battle. While you need a strong work ethic and upbeat attitude, try to relax and enjoy it – it will come through in your presence. Ultimately, both the buyer and seller should treat each other with equal business stature. The transaction is all about you working together to satisfy a need – believe that you are helping the client, not that they are doing you a favour by choosing you.

Shaun Thomson is the CEO of Sandler Training in the UK, a leading sales, management and leadership training organisation.

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