Congratulations if you had the audacity to answer yes. Let’s see if you still think so after reading this article. So, what are some (in the interest of brevity) of the elements of a world class sales organisation? I am glad you asked:
Do you have one? If not, time to think through what you are trying to achieve and how you are going about it. Too many small businesses pick and choose when they sell or are simply reactive to opportunities. Key elements include:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- Define your target market
- Create/enhance your point(s) of difference
- Create/enhance your sales process
Bottom Line: If you can’t articulate what your strategy is then you don’t have one. Time to fix it.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
The term applies to both how you go about managing customers and the system you use to do it. It is something most large organisations do very well but in the past at least, small businesses haven’t been able to afford the world leading CRM solutions. Times have changed and there are many good CRM’s that are free or have a minimal cost. Have a look at Insightly, Hubspot, and Salesforce (most expensive) to name a few.
Bottom Line: You need to have a process for managing your customer relationships and a system to do it
Account Management is particularly important for small businesses selling to other businesses. Again, process is vitally important. Key elements of Account Management include:
- How often you engage with your customers
- How those engagements are recorded and actioned
- Differentiated levels of service – should your most valuable customer get the same level of service as your least valuable? No, they shouldn’t and that should be clearly reflected in your Account Management plan. E.g Tier 1 customers have a face to face meeting each month with a document detailing any actions etc.
Bottom Line: An account management plan will improve your customer retention rate
Lead Management (Prospects)
New customers are critical for all businesses. It is therefore quite surprising that many businesses do not have a clear understanding of how many leads they receive, where they come from and crucially, how to manage them. Key elements of Lead Management include:
- Track the leads you receive by source, size, conversions rates and more
- Have a system (CRM) to manage the leads which provides information on conversion rates for example (assuming information is kept up to date)
- Implement a lead management process. E.g. leads will be responded to within x timeframe, each lead will receive x, each lead will be followed up after x days etc.
Bottom Line: Leads are gold! Treat them that way.
This is an area overlooked by many. Whilst I can certainly think of industries that will benefit more than others from having referral partners, I can’t think of any that wouldn’t benefit at all. Key elements include:
- Create a list of other organisations that are complementary and potentially share the same customer market as yours
- Once you have your list, start referring to them (assuming you believe they are quality of course)
- Figure out a way to provide an incentive for them to refer business to you. It can be financial but many industries frown on (or in some cases legislate against) these incentives. For example, one of our members is a Physiotherapy/Pilates business who uses education as an incentive to the GP’s in their area. They offer free education sessions to the GP’s on topics they are very knowledgeable in. This provides value and encourages referrals without a financial incentive.
Bottom Line: Referral partners can be a great source of leads. Find some!
Sales Performance Management
Even if your sales force is just you, it still needs managing! If you have a sales team, then even better. Key elements of Sales Performance Management include:
- A sales report detailing performance across metrics like actual vs. target, sales pipeline, close ratios, customer satisfaction etc.
- Implement an incentive scheme that rewards stars
- Weekly sales meetings that review performance, discuss relevant sales issues e.g. objections received, updates on products/services and other relevant information.
- Provide sales coaching for your team. It pays dividends. Why else would the number one tennis players in the world still use coaches?
Bottom Line: Without sales, you have no business. Invest in it.