In this article, I will outline effective tactics because I’ve used them successfully for more than a decade.
Regardless of whether you're new to sales or are a seasoned veteran, you can blow past your sales goals using these simple tools. The bad news is you will have to implement what you learn, it will require hard work (nothing replaces hard work), and it will demand discipline and inquisitiveness.
Break it down — The old saying goes “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” You need to take your annual budget and break it down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, and yes, even daily sales goals. You should write this down and keep it someplace where you can refer to it multiple times a day. I break down and specify my budgets in detail on my iPhone. What gets tracked, gets done. You should always know where you stand regarding your budget. The top producing salespeople definitely know at any given moment where they are in relationship to their budget.
Work only on qualified leads — People falsely believe that the more you quote, the more you will sell, but that is simply untrue. You can quote all day long and not sell a thing. This applies to the customer that is only looking for the lowest price or wants to use your bid to beat up his current supplier. We also see this when someone has instructions to get three bids even though they always use the same vendor. You want to work with customers who are interested in value-added services and appreciate your ability to come up with the right solutions for their HVAC needs. You want a customer who's looking for a relationship with his supplier. You want to become a trusted adviser for your customer and someone who will help train their staff, thereby creating a win-win relationship.
Go above and beyond — Do you quote like your competitors? If so, why?
Do you provide plenty of attachments on the products you quote? You should include a brochure and specification data sheets with all bids. For commercial quotes, don’t forget to add submittal sheets. Do you just list required items to quote or do you offer alternatives that could be of value to your customers?
It depends upon my individual customer, but sometimes I will take the time to list all the benefits of my products to highlight why my product offering is greater than that of my competitors. I will also provide a comparison sheet if I know what brand that I am up against. I have several side-by-side comparison sheets comparing the brand we carry versus brand X. I will show both brands’ warrantees, efficiencies and outstanding benefits to help my customer to become an informed shopper. You have to raise the bar and offer the most impressive bid that your customer will receive.
What’s amazing and what will set you apart is calling your customer a couple of days after you have submitted your bid to check on your quote. It’s shocking how few salespeople follow-up on their quotes. My customers appreciate the follow-up, and because I cared enough to call, I get instant and most importantly honest feedback. I learn how and why they made their decision, whether it went my way or not. The customers feel that I have earned the right to know whether I won the bid or lost it and will explain why they went with another company.
The fact that I get my bids out the same day as the request or at the latest the next day and that my quote is the most detailed and of the highest quality helps, but most importantly, the fact that I cared enough about my quote to follow up with the customer usually gives me the right to learn the truth. Knowledge is power, and if your customers are giving you honest feedback, you are well on your way to smashing your budget as long as you use the information that you have learned.
Have a tactical plan — You might have told your boss that this year, you will grow account X this amount and account Y this much. But do you have a solid plan in place for every account? Most salespeople only have a plan for a few top accounts. The plan typically is a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter type, but it’s not specially designed for the individual or well thought out. A good plan should incorporate what you already know about your customer. A trip to the Caribbean is not for everyone, nor will it inspire every customer to push business your way. You definitely need to know what your competitors are offering. We have a couple of customers who are huge Minnesota Vikings football fans.
We offered them a trip to see the Vikings play a home game, and our customers worked extremely hard and were highly motivated to give us enough business to earn that trip because it was what they were passionate about. It meant so much more to them than a trip to the Caribbean; plus the Vikings game trip cost less, allowing us to keep more profit.
The key is to sit down with your customer and plan together, discussing your goals for the next year and what it's going to take to get you where you need to be. You want customers to consider you a trusted adviser, discussing various strategies to help them grow their business, and ultimately, yours as well. You can uncover sales opportunities you didn't even know existed by being more involved in the planning stages with your customer. If you haven’t built a solid plan with your customers for the upcoming year, you’re just hoping to make your budget somehow. You must have plans in place for every account that you call on, and the more personalized the plan, the better.
Know your competitor — Knowledge is indeed power, and to win the day, you had better know what your competitors are offering and make sure you’re providing more value-added services than your adversary. Please notice that nowhere in this article have I mentioned lowering your price or giving up margin. You will bust your sales budget by providing your customers with business solutions such as inventory management, helping to develop a highly successful referral program, providing technical training, reduction and control of trucks stock, helping develop a better website, or assisting your customer with web search optimization (WSO). There are many ways to provide valuable added services that are more important than coming in with the lowest price. If you know your customer, understand their needs and know what your competitors are offering, you are in a position to grow your accounts and blast past your budget.
Is the budget realistic? You can do everything right and still come up short if you set an unrealistic budget to begin with. It's foolish to pretend that 50 percent growth will be possible with a mature account base, but it might be very realistic if you load your customer lists with high potential accounts.
You must make a solid assessment of your account base coupled with strategic plans to grow every customer. Once all that hard work is done, you have to honestly ask yourself, will your growth plan work to change your customers’ purchasing behaviors? If you can answer yes, get ready to have a great year in sales.