The performance of the sales force is increasingly a key success factor across many industries, not just in business-to-business, but in retail, hospitality and leisure as well.
How you go about improving sales performance is less a function of the size of the sales team, and more a function of the size of the customer base. A larger base requires more sophisticated systems and support to really capitalise on the potential of the team.
Here are the four generic steps to improving sales team performance and building that sales pipeline:
- Creating awareness
- Generating leads / enquiries
- Trade-up (transaction value)
- Re-order (frequency)
The most valuable resource for the sales team (and often for the whole business) is the customer database. Forget demographic information. The crucial data is contact details and contact / purchase patterns. Here are four ways to leverage more value from customer data:
- Segmentation and the changing customer. By building segments from purchase patterns, not demographics, marketing and sales can see how customers migrate between segments, as well as which are the most and least valuable.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The employee answering the phone at Pizza Express knows, as soon as you dial, who you are, and what you last ordered. If they can do it, why can't you?
- Direct marketing (DM). Whether based on segment or individual purchase patterns, direct marketing needs to be efficient (aimed at those most likely to respond) and tailored to the customer in a way that engages them, and shows them that you actually care. Without that, its just spam.
- Web 2.0. Amazon knows what I like, and whenever I order something, other people like me benefit too (people who bought that, also bought these). In a web 2.0 environment, I'm presented with those things most likely to tempt me, as an individual, to spend. Nothing that I want is ever hard to find. Does this describe your presence?
- 1. Chunk the process into key stages. 2. Set measures and targets. 4 Build a culture of performance and learning
In addition, creating and using legends and tales from the front line, in every interaction with the team, along with regular recognition and celebration, are the keys to cultural change. Beyond this however, the sales team is a key resource for learning, both for improving their performance, but also improving the overall business. Great sales people are close to the customer and can be a great source of innovative ideas. And finally, try getting everyone in the organisation to take a turn on the sales desk.
It can be a fantastic tool for building a customer-focused business - one where everyone is there to truly support sales.