Over the years we have observed the sales activities of numerous companies and three things seem obvious.

Firstly, the sales function is very expensive and usually represents a significant cost area for business operators. Secondly, it is clear that investing in the right sales tools and sales team development activities to optimise sales conversion performance leads to improved sales outcomes. Thirdly, not many business owners invest enough in sales tools and sales team development activities when compared to the amount of money they invest in the total cost of their sales team’s selling efforts.

Previous articles that I have written have addressed the total cost of the sales team and also the average total cost per sale.

Whichever way you look at the sales function and associated costs it makes sense to do your best to put in place initiatives and systems to increase your return on investment. Below are seven tools that will help you improve the effectiveness and outcomes from your personal selling activities.

Creating the tools summarised below does not necessarily represent fun for the whole family.

However, they are tools that will lead to rapid improvements in sales outcomes and can be at the very least, initiated in-house.

How the 7 Tools can Improve your Sales?

Each of the 7 Tools summarised below has three main objectives. Firstly, to help and encourage you to define the exact sales and/or marketing activities that will increase your sales conversion ratios. Secondly, to turn the key areas of the sales preparation and implementation process into tangible items, check-lists, registers etc. that can then be used as tools for existing and new staff. Thirdly, to make it easier for your business and your sales team to systemise the implementation of the sales activities that you have defined as being most effective.

1. Marketing Plan

It is pretty hard to maximise your selling efforts if you have not given thought to the most important strategic marketing decisions.  Key decisions to review include the selection of your primary and secondary target markets, your desired brand positioning; customer needs analysis and key communication messages.

There is no doubt that the effectiveness of your overall selling efforts will be greatly improved through clarity in the above key marketing planning and decision-making areas.

2. Strategic Questions Checklist

Any sales training program will tell you that ‘questions’ are an important component of the face-to-face sales process.  So why not develop a list of the most useful and most powerful questions for you and your team to use during the sales process.

Strategic questions are those that uncover key points of information or that lead you forward in the sales process.  They will be different for each company and brand but will be very similar for each member of the same sales team.

3. Opening Game Plan

Those of you who know me personally will have realised by now that my body was designed for comfort, stability and perhaps gluttony rather than high-performance sporting pursuits. Despite this, I still listen to the occasional athlete who reminds me how important it is to visualise success.

Josie Hodge, our resident golfer tells me that when a golfer goes onto the green, they visualise ‘holing’ their putt.

My recommendation is to visualise success in your face-to-face selling activities by developing an Opening Game Plan.  This is where you map out and define what a successful opening to your sales process looks like.

4. Features and Benefits Menu

I have talked Features and Benefits in earlier articles where I have outlined the opportunity to use them as the basis of all of your marketing and sales communications.

Your Features and Benefits Menu is simply a list of the most important Features and Benefits.  They are listed in a menu format so that they are prioritised and conveniently available for your sales team to use and learn them.

5. Objections Register

Let’s face it; we know we are going to get objections.

If there were no objections to your selling efforts your biggest problem would be how you are going to keep up with counting all of your money.

So here is an idea, why don’t we brainstorm all of the objections that we are likely to be faced with and summarise them in one place. Your Objections Register should include the most common and the most difficult objections that you and your sales team will receive in addition to the most effective responses. Summarising them in an Objections Register forces you to analyse and to think through the most effective responses to them.

6. Closing Techniques Register

The Closing Techniques Register is intended to force you to bring to a head your preparation and analysis of approaches to closing and gaining commitment.  Gone are the days where sales training focusses on brash ‘sign here and press hard’ sales closing techniques. However, for most businesses and their sales teams there will be some approaches to asking for commitment that are more effective than others.

7. The Follow Up Checklist

There has been significant research and surveys completed regarding the concept of ‘follow up’ and its role in the sales process.

Two things are obvious.

Firstly, follow up plays a critical role in increasing your sales conversion ratios. Secondly, most companies that come to us for help are typically not very good at implementing sales follow up. The Follow Up Checklist will help you define the specific follow up activities that will help increase your sales conversion.  It will also make it easier for your sales team to systemise the implementation of these follow up activities.

Implementing the 7 Tools

My goal with the above was to turn each of the main sales preparation areas into something tangible.  If we talk in terms of an Objections Register we are talking about a final document, a tool that can be used on a daily basis as well as in training new staff.

I hope that the above approach helps you increase the effectiveness and outcomes from your face-to-face sales conversion activities and leads to increased sales and profits for your business overall.

Image by M338 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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