What are actions entrepreneurs can take to improve sales?

Take-aways from a talk in the Trust Center on 7/14/16

Treat every meeting as a close meeting

  • Never leave a meeting without an action plan.
  • Closing doesn’t always mean closing a contract. You should remember your meeting objectives, stay on track with an agenda, address key objective and close the meeting with an action plan so you can continue the communication.
  • Your follow up on the action plan is 50% of your success. You earn your way to a sale if you prove your credibility.
  • The second best thing for you is a quick NO - most people don’t say no. they face an objection instead (too costly, etc.). You need to understand whether the customer has a real challenge you can solve or he/she actually tries to say a soft NO.
    • A technique to get to closure is to give a time sensitive discount. Customers might say they’re not interested or they are encouraged to close the deal.

Follow the sales process

  • 7 steps: plan, meet, qualify, propose, confirm. Close, assure
  • This is a funnel. You need to understand (and test!) what/ how long to a move customers through the funnel.
  • The more disciplined you, are the more you can track customers that are not moving through the funnel and either disqualify them or detect a problematic in your process.

 

Hire and manage a sales force

  • Different companies in different stages need different sales force structures.
    • When you are small, you need to find someone to just get you a meeting! Partnerships are helpful in creating connection but you will probably do your own sales (direct, not through channels).
    • As you grow, the nature of the sales force and your priorities change and you can consider other channels.
  • Once you have a sales force, you need to break them down to actionable territories. Ones that you can manage, track, count, and set targets around.
  • Forecast is critical
    • All investors will look for sales forecast so you need to think how to forecast accurately.
    • Use historic data, your knowledge, what the sales reps tell you and compare it with the actuals to learn how to fine tune future forecasts.
    • It is not just a number, it’s a commitment! You need it to be an integral part of your company from day 1 if you want people to be disciplined.
  • Compensation plan
    • If you are successful, your sales reps might be the highest paid person in your company. And you should be excited to pay them for doing a great job.
    • If you pay a low base, you should increase the potential upside and vice versa. You will get different types of sales reps for each option. The higher the risk, and the higher the pay, the more competitive and aggressive sales people you get.
    • Don’t give sales reps equity. The money is what matters!
    • Make sure you set a clear path for them. They love their name on the wall, they’re competitive, and they are driven by compensation.
    • Don’t give unlimited freedom to discount because they will use it to close deals.

 

Get to the decision makers

  • Network heavily. Get broad on LinkedIn, get as many influencers as you can and get them to introduce you to others that you want to get to.
  • You will need to “earn your way up the food chain”. Build a strategy how to go up these steps – who should I start with? Who do we need him/her to connect us with? And gather as much information as possible about the decision makers in each one of these meetings.
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