Most companies are not very good at selling. How do we know? Recent research across a sample of almost 400 organisations tell us that only 44 per cent of them judge that they sell more effectively than their competitors and 2 per cent admit to being catastrophically bad - that is around 60 in the Chamber!
If I were to ask most people what they would expect to find in a good salesman, their list would probably include: personable, friendly, persuasive, ambitious, and hard-working - these are the art of selling and are all about a high level of interpersonal skills which help salespeople form relationships quickly and nurture them.
My experience, however, is that whilst these are important, there is an additional set that seem to make the difference between average and outstanding sales performance and these are the often ignored 'science' factors.
Science is all about analysis, metrics, predictability and application to clear goals. Translating these concepts to practical changes to your sales activities produces better and more consistent results.
Generally most salespeople tend not to have these characteristics to a large degree, so management need to facilitate them.
Here are a couple of simple steps that you can take to start to improve results:
1. Measure everything
Start to collect metrics about all activities in the sales process, such as incoming enquires, outgoing phone calls, prospect visits, quotes and proposals sent out.
2. Set performance goals for all important activities
Having established a baseline, set performance goals for each important activity, such as three customer visits a day, ten quotes a week, win one new customer a week. Collect and feed back everybody's results to all your salespeople.
These two simple steps will provide the foundation to improve results because they focus attention and effort on the important activities which drive more sales.
The next step is to measure and improve 'success ratios' from each stage in the process to the next and to link rewards tightly to performance, but that is another story.