For organizations looking to grow, more productive sales policies are a top priority. At Loyaltyworks, many of our clients are looking to use our online reward programs as part of an overall company plan to breathe more life into sales. “Making over” sales requires considerable time and effort, however, and these are luxuries that many companies just don’t have. In our consultations with various organizations over the years, we often suggest transforming sales one section at a time.
Six Sales Strategies to Use When You Can’t Afford a Total Overhaul
First, focus on your most important customer segments. If you’re the distributor in a supply chain, your contractors may be your most important customers, as they have the most direct contact with end-consumers. Introduce improvements to this aspect of the sales channel management process. Align value propositions, resources and research with your strategic goals, then set a plan into motion that motivates your sales team and sales channel partners to follow those goals.
Following the above approach, you can change sales strategies and improve productivity over time. It requires, first, an assessment of your organization’s sales set-up. With this set-up in mind, you can dictate actions on a quarterly basis to increase sales without disrupting overall revenue flow, which can be a risk when new improvements are made.
When it comes to putting effective new practices into action, you have a variety of strategies and tools at your disposal. In this article, we’ll look at a few combinations of techniques that are considered best practices.
1. Concentrate on high-value customers.
For the “most important segment” strategy to work, you need to know who your most important and profitable customer segment is. An efficient sales department can identify these valuable segments throughout their supply chain, beginning with the lead generation and qualification process. They know what kind of messaging and value propositions to present to these segments during discovery, proposal and close phases. These effective policies train salespeople on when to pursue aggressively and when to back off. Train your sales team to be experts on high-value customers and well-versed in their needs.
2. Choose the right sales approach for the right customer segment.
Today’s economy is full of new opportunities for customers, with markets maturing and technology rapidly advancing. Customers are faced with a host of choices that are growing even more complex. As those choices multiply, so do the decisions sales departments have to make. Which customers segments respond well to Web or email communications? Which segments respond better to telesales? Which require a go-between such as a reseller or distributor? Stand-out organizations are able to offer detailed answers to these questions and carefully match customer segments to the right communication channels and sales tactics.
Putting these decisions into action isn’t always easy. For instance, your sales department may be trained on telesales, even though you find that Web communication is increasingly more productive. The sales department may resist the change or require retraining. The work isn’t always easy or swift, but you can set new policies into place with useful tools like online training, while providing rewards that motivate teams to learn new skills.
3. Make sure your rewards and compensation are tied to growth and performance.
When it comes to setting new goals and restructuring sales, one of the downsides of cash compensation is that it can’t be linked to those new goals. Cash is universal and utilitarian—it’s hard to frame it as a reward for a specific action or behavior when you’re already using it as a regular compensation method. In order to motivate sales teams to achieve new goals and follow new procedures, a variable compensation plan is best.
Reward your salespeople in different ways so that no bonus system or commission becomes institutionalized. Study benchmarks in your industry to make sure you don’t end up paying your team to underperform. Online reward programs, such as those offered by Loyaltyworks, are beneficial in this respect because online reward catalogs offer a massive array of non-cash reward choices. An online reward catalog ensure that rewards don’t become standard and that sales teams can always look forward to earning something bigger and better.
4. Develop strategic pricing plans.
Expanding to new customer bases will be a waste of everyone’s time if you aren’t selling efficiently to your current customer bases. Closely examine your pricing structure to make sure you aren’t underselling and, if necessary, implement some pricing discipline. Instead of offering deeper and deeper discounts, for instance, develop a pricing strategy for each of your priority markets. Offer price packages and bundles that move surplus inventory and are targeted at your most important customer segments. Put strategic, rather than reactionary, pricing plans into action.
5. Use the right metrics to influence decision-making.
Most organizations know they should be tracking and measuring their sales tactics and performances. But what set of metrics should have the most influence over your sales strategies and organizational goals? Be sure to measure coverage gaps in your supply chain and win-loss ratios in important customer segments, but base your reward system on actual outcome numbers. Those numbers are the clear metrics that back up your specific goals, are based on hard results and can be easily compared to benchmarks. These are the kinds of metrics you should build patterns and policies around.
Ensure that the metrics that influence your decisions are clear and understood organization-wide. Correctly implemented metrics can create apparent goals, reduce your risks and uncover opportunities.
6. Give your reps as much quality customer time as possible.
Customer face-time is the heart of sales, not administration or resources, however helpful they may be. Make sure your sales reps’ time is spent where it counts: with customers. Don’t expect your sales teams to cross-sell and penetrate new markets while you’re saddling them with administrative tasks at the same time. If necessary, take on a partner or create a department that handles non-selling account activities. Then use the tools at your disposal to measure sales reps’ time with customers, optimizing it and finding out how to create more.
With these six sales strategies, you can improve productivity in specific customer segments. The right combination of tactics can focus your sales teams or channel partners on opportunities to boost revenue and market share. As you grow, you can begin to apply these strategies to other segments until your entire sales department is more powerful, streamlined and profit-driven.