To help you start the New Year strong, here are a few tips for improving your sales process.
The New Year is a good time to evaluate and improve your sales process. By objectively evaluating the previous year, you can identify strengths and weaknesses, and figure out what worked, what didn’t, and why. Each New Year also brings changes to the market, products, and customers that can impact your overall sales process. Failing to learn from past successes and failures can lead to a stagnant sales process that puts you behind the competition. To help you start the New Year strong, here are a few tips for improving your sales process.
While you don’t want to stay in the past, it is a good place to visit from time to time. Take a look back at your goals and objectives over the year, and see where you ended up when compared to them. If you’re on target, it’s a good time to see how you can improve on your success. If you’re off track, you should realistically evaluate how you ended up there, and what you’re going to do to turn things around. This is another reason why analytics are so important throughout the year-they can show you, at a glance, whether a particular sales process was successful or not.
If your sales process didn’t work as well as you hoped, you need to determine whether the problem was with the plan, or with the execution. Too many salespeople start over from scratch when their sales process fails, without considering how the plan was implemented. A good plan can’t survive a bad implementation. Use your year-end review as a time to determine whether a plan could have enjoyed greater success with a little more effort, or a different focus. It’s often easier to rework a plan than it is to come up with an entirely new one.
Sometimes, it is necessary to scrap a plan and go back to the drawing board. Salespeople can become too attached to a plan, and unwilling to abandon it when it doesn’t work. Many business ventures have failed because the people involved were unwilling to accept change. If you can’t see a reasonable, cost-effective way to make a plan viable, it’s time to move on to a new plan. The ultimate measure of a plan’s success is in the sales figures. If you can’t see a positive return for the effort you’ll put into making a plan workable, then it’s a lost cause to begin with.
Dwelling on the problems in your sales process will just drag down morale. Be realistic, and don’t sugarcoat the problems, but resolve them and move on. Build on your victories, even the small ones, and you’ll have better morale and a road map to success. You may find that a small change to your sales process yielded unexpected benefits. If so, try expanding on that change, and adopting it as a larger part of your overall sales process. You’ll have a proven model to base your new plan on, and your salespeople will see that their contributions have made a positive difference in the company.
To start the New Year off right, take some time to refocus on your core capabilities. It’s easy to get stretched too thin by trying to be all things to all people. Look at the things you do better than your competitors, and focus on further improving in those areas. Once you do that, it will be easy to engage new prospects, and strengthen your ties with existing customers. Sales is becoming more customer focused every year, and providing better services to a smaller base seems to be the current trend. Doing all of this will make it easy to emerge from the past year, and come out strong in the new one.
Claire is a Western University graduate with a background in recruiting, sales and customer service. As a Director, Client Services her goals are to place the best people in the right roles resulting in satisfaction for both the candidate and client.