Salespeople are sociable bunch generally speaking, and with that of course comes a great asset in being able to communicate with a wide variety of people whom they deal with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, that ‘social skill’ can also lull sales people into a false sense of security when trying to convert prospects into real customers!
You know what it’s like as a sales director. Despite promises made at the team meeting or in their one-to-one reviews about the future likelihood of winning contracts that your sales people are working on, it’s quite common for many of these never to materialise! Often because sales people are either too nice or laid back(?) in structuring their approach more proactively.
So, how should we be helping them to overcome some of these challenges that we see as the head of sales team and ensure that the sales team converts more business from their sales efforts?
First of all, do make sure that they are rigidly following up the quotes that they’ve alread made! This may sound very basic, but it’s surprising how many organisations really don’t bother to follow up the potential contracts that they’ve quoted for, expecting the customer to ring them back only if they’re interested…. A staggering reality in my experience! For the sake of simple and quick telephone call (which prospects are also probably waiting for?), it’s a simple technique to get business over the line.
Equally, we often see salespeople just dealing with one point of contact within an organisation when trying to close business. While this may be fine for small contracts, very often there are several people often involved in a ‘sign off’ process as we all know. So, why do we allow our team to continue to rely on the one-to-one relationships in their selling situations? We have to do something differently!
Think about it on the flipside for a minute… If your Board asked you to go out and spend half a million pounds on a complete refit of your IT infrastructure on behalf your whole organisation, would you really go out on a limb on your own and buy it? Or, would you most likely involve a few people in the company to seek their views; ascertain what it is that they would need and want first; perhaps form a small committee or steering group, as the project is so big?
Your sales team’s future customers, will also be going through the same process as you would in the above scenario when buying from you, so it’s mission-critical that we encourage our salespeople to engage with as many different decision-makers and influences as possible during their sales process so they can knock over more business for you and the company.
Finally, consider encouraging your salespeople to regularly ask their prospects about their company strategy and their bigger picture/vision for growth etc. Questions around these areas will often uncover whether or not your sales person’s point of contact is truly the ‘sign off agent’ for that company.
There’s no harm in my view either in professionally embarrassing these people (in a positive way), that gets a response that sounds something like… ‘Ah yes…well I think you’ll need to ask my Boss/Board of Directors about that particular point…’
This is your sales persons chance to seize on that opportunity and sell a meeting with those other decision makers on the back of that; increase what I call their ‘contact surface’ and minimise any risk of not talking with the right people in converting prospecs into to tangible, closed business!