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Sales Strategy & Management

Time for Review

Appraising your sales staff’s performance needn’t be a dreaded occasion.

Entrepreneur

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Many sales managers dread performance reviews since the process has such a bad reputation. Although evaluations may seem to be more job than joy, the task is a vital part of managing a salesteam. In fact, Dick Grote, author of The Performance Appraisal Question and Answer Book, suggests performance appraisals “can be the most important tool in the sales manager’s arsenal to develop a high-performing, totally committed sales team”. Perhaps because the process is so daunting, Grote explains that too often the sales manager “squanders the chance to build sales excellence because of a lack of courage to tell people the truth about how they are doing”. Get in the habit of praising performers and weeding out dead weight by using the following guidelines to firm up your review process:

1. Elements of a review. Each appraisal should include quantitative measures like total sales, sales versus quota, client presentations per day and week, sales per week and month, and close rate. As quotas are a large element of a review, it’s important to understand how your reps view the system. If the quota was handed down from the top, the salesperson doesn’t identify with it, feels it’s unfair and has a hard time meeting the quota. A quota system is powerful only if the salesperson worked with his or her manager to develop it.

2. Beyond quotas. After the quantitative measures are covered, Grote encourages managers to focus on the more qualitative aspects of selling, including “impact and influence” and “achievement orientation”. Grote describes impact and influence as behaviours that include building networks, seeking advice and using a group process to lead or influence the group. Achievement orientation manifests itself as taking initiative, doing more than asked and looking for problems to fix.

3. Frequency. Reviews should be done on a regularly scheduled basis. A new recruit should be reviewed more frequently at first, and then at least every three months. Normal reviews should be conducted quarterly, and managers should allow enough time to prepare and conduct each review. Most of them don’t do either of these functions very well. They fail to realise that it’s not time lost, it’s actually time well invested.

4. Good news, bad news. Your sales force may dread reviews as much as you do. But when it is done with enthusiasm and optimism, it’s a powerful motivating tool. Compliments should be lavish and criticism should be fair, calm, supportive and constructive.

One of the reasons reviews lurk at the nadir of your to-do list is that there may be bad news to deliver. If a rep isn’t selling, Grote suggests an entrepreneur do the thorny work of firing.“Don’t undertake the burden of improvement – think replacement,” says Grote.“Managers tend to wait way too long to fire obvious losers.”

Remember that the only thing worse than toomuch turnover is none when there should be.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Sales Strategy & Management

When The Customer Fixates On Price, 
It’s Probably Not About 
The Money

Customers often talk cost when they have vague concerns about the product. Your job is to find out and solve the real problem.

Grant Cardone

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If the person I’m working with can afford the product, but isn’t buying and continues to focus on the money, I realise this buyer has other concerns. While your customer may be objecting to price, know there is something else you might not know. He or she is thinking,

“Is this the right product? Is there a better product? Is this the right proposal? Will this solve our problem? Will I use it? What will other people think about my decision? Am I going to really use and enjoy this? Will this company take care of us? Am I better off buying something else? Will something better come out next week? Do I know enough to make a decision? Should we invest in something else? Is this going to be a mistake? Is this person going to let me down?”

When these other questions are handled, the price will no longer be the issue.

The right product will solve all the customers problems

Let’s say a man is buying a birthday present for his girlfriend. He finds something he thinks she will love. You tell him the price and he says it’s more than he can afford. What he’s actually saying is that he’s not completely sold on that product. If it’s too much for that ring, he either doesn’t love it himself or is not sure she will — or both.

You have to get the right product that solves all of his problems. Address other concerns and price won’t be the big issue. You can justify the price with other inventory. Don’t make the mistake of offering something with a lower price when you get a customer making price objections.

This is not a way to resolve the money problem. When you move the customer down to offer something cheaper, they are actually more likely to like the product even less than the first one. This will cause your buyer to believe you don’t have a solution.

Instead of moving them down, try moving them up. This will get the customer thinking in terms of value, not price. This will also determine whether the price objection was even valid or not. If a guy is looking at a R6 000 ring and objects to the price, show him a R9 000 ring. The R6 000 ring may become more attractive to him.

Help the customer feel like they’re making a good decision

Buyers are more concerned about making a good decision than how low the price is. What’s the worst that can happen by moving someone up in inventory?

  • He will look at something more expensive, which means he wasn’t committed to the original product.
  • He needs to move in the other direction, something cheaper. That makes the price objection valid.
  • He looks at the more expensive item but sees value in the original item.

Exhaust your inventory, not your price. You are losing just as many customers to more expensive products as you are to less expensive products. Your buyer would rather pay more and make the right decision than pay less and make a mistake.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Your Business Is Losing Customers

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Sales Strategy & Management

Take Your Sales Skills To The Next Level With These 5 Simple Steps

Learn to sell nearly anything.

Brian Tracy

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Entrepreneur Network partner Brian Tracy says one of the most valuable skills a person can have is the ability to sell anything to anyone.

The motivational speaker provides a few tips to help even the most beginner of salesman to improve their skills dramatically:

  1. Understand the needs of your customers.
  2. Sell yourself.
  3. Do research on the client.
  4. Ask questions and engage in a dialogue with your customers.

Finally, keep in mind that you should not only be selling – but also helping your customers. Selling is part of a relationship and the more established the relationship, the more effective your sales tactics will be.

To hear more about selling from Tracy click on the video below:

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Related: How To Find The Right Salespeople: And Attract Them To Your Business

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Sales Strategy & Management

Boost Your Business With Smart Delivery

Differentiate your business in the one way that customers value the most: deliver the goods on time.

Morné Stoltz

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It can be difficult to carve out a competitive advantage in today’s cutthroat business environment. For some companies, investments have been focused on creating digital advantage through measures like apps or fancy websites, or improved processes with clever technology to make things run faster and better. While all those strategies have their place, there could be a far simpler way to put your business ahead of the competition. Deliver the goods, in a very literal sense.

The Internet revolution has made today’s markets very competitive in all sorts of ways. Barriers to entering many markets have tumbled and new competitors are everywhere. Consumers have greater choice than ever and can easily compare prices and service. That is good for consumers, but it makes it hard for companies to attract and retain a loyal following.

By now, it should be no secret that people are willing to pay for convenience. In fact, many of the digital initiatives we see today are succeeding because of the convenience they provide. Take the Uber example: Using technology services, it brings together willing sellers with willing buyers, with the ultimate convenience of being able to see where your Uber is, who the driver is and what car to expect. Even more convenient, your Uber shows up when you need it.

Related: A 7-Step Guide To Starting Your Own Trade Business

Extend the same concept to physical goods, no matter what they may be and it is not difficult to see how a delivery service can easily put a big smile on your customers’ faces. Whether you are selling horse saddles, operate a bicycle store, run the local grocer, hardware outlet or restaurant: bringing your goods to your customers saves them time, makes it easier to buy and has the added effect of establishing further rapport to build trusted relationships.

According to Forbes, the Internet has habituated today’s shoppers to instant gratification. While physical goods obviously cannot be accessed at a click, there is no doubt that speedy delivery has become a driver of competitive advantage.

Getting a delivery service set up can be easy and low-cost provided your market is fairly local and your product relatively easy to transport. There are a range of options for vehicles, from a versatile bakkie or minivan capable of handling large loads or bigger items, through to a delivery motorbike or scooter. For those providing smaller items, scooters or motorbikes are a great option, as they enable convenience when your customers might most need it: during rush hour. A bike can zip through the traffic, impressing your customer by ensuring that they get what they need, without wasting time stuck in the car due to traffic or lack of parking.

A big question would be whether your deliveries are handled in-house or by a third party. There are pros and cons, but there is an increasing trend for many smaller businesses to make use of specialised logistics/ delivery operations. After all, this means you do not have to make the capital investment in a vehicle or scooter, pay a staff member to do the job and take on the insurance and management issues. Not only are you engaging an expert, you are also doing your bit to support another business.

Third-party delivery partners also work well for deliveries in far-flung areas, or if your product is bulky.

It is a good idea to see what other businesses of your size are doing and who they are using. It is important to choose a delivery partner whose service ethos matches your own.

Related: 5 Success Hacks To Grow Your Business

Whatever option you choose, make sure you understand the risk and have the right kind of business insurance in place. It is also a good idea to have the ability to monitor where your deliveries are in real time. If you have a third-party partner, they should  be able to provide this for you.

With most big stores offering delivery services as part of their value proposition, adding this choice to your service offering increasingly makes good business sense. Customers are quite prepared to pay a slight premium to get what they want, right to their front door – and they will keep on coming back for more.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

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