After coming up with a good business idea and launching a business, the biggest challenge a new business faces is getting enough leads. This can be overcome by learning about effective marketing. However, even after a company has created a successful marketing campaign, the business will not prosper unless the sales team can convert those leads into sales.
Let’s face it, selling is difficult. Human beings are complicated and persuading someone to part with their money is often difficult in an economy where the cost of living is constantly rising. You have to convince them that your product or service is of more value than the money they hold in their hands.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some ways a company can optimize their sales process to convert more leads into sales after marketing has done most of the heavy lifting.
1. Use the Best CRM Technology
While sales are primarily a job that requires human interaction, technology can make it easier for salespeople to do an effective job. Through customer relationship management (CRM) software, companies can streamline their marketing and sales process, improve customer experience, and sort out prospects from customers. When it comes to comparing CRM tools, the two that stand out are Salesforce and Oracle, both cloud-based CRMs. Since it’s possible to argue for both sides, deciding which one is best for your company depends on what it is that you need.
2. Onboarding and training
You would not expect recruitment to be much of an issue. After all the economy is continuing to grow and organizations have many openings available. However, the sales representative position appears to be the most difficult to fill after skilled trading roles. There are many reasons why this is the case but one prominent one is that recruiters often use old-school recruiting methods to find entry level sales representatives. For instance, many companies recruit sales people on the basis of dangling the high-income carrot. However, when candidates apply for the job, they are quickly overwhelmed by crusty sales managers who have high expectations and demand unrealistic quotas. Even if they accept the job, the turnover rate is high, which means that the sales manager has to go through the whole process all over again.
Unless someone is already a successful salesperson, the promise of high salaries and generous commissions is not enough to overcome a newcomer’s fears about asking people to buy. When the fear of rejection is higher than enthusiasm for making more money, fear wins out.
A better way of recruiting sales representatives is by focusing on improving onboarding and sales training.
When sales managers fail to use an onboarding process, then they default to throwing new sales reps into the business in the hopes that they will figure things out on their own. This creates anxiety and disorganization as the sales reps fumble through one disastrous sale after another. This cycle is followed by one of anger and frustration for everyone when sales reps finally quit after a few days, weeks, or months.
Onboarding is a process of introducing the new sales rep to the company culture so that they can more quickly become productive employees.
Through onboarding and training a new sales rep learns:
- How to engage prospects and make a presentation.
- How to learn from mistakes.
- How to approach a sales meeting with confidence.
- How to enjoy the job, stay productive, and get better at sales performance.
- How to handle rejection without taking it personally.
- How to stop being afraid of prospects or the possibility of losing their job.
This is a long process and it can take up to 6 months before a new employee finally begins to feel that they have become good sale reps.
3. Increasing engagement and retention.
The biggest problem a sales organization faces is high disengagement and high turnover. When a sales rep is disengaged, he or she just goes through the motions to stay employed. When a sales reps quit, it because they feel so much emotional pain over customer rejection that they are no longer even willing to try again.
The way to increase engagement and decrease turnover is through ongoing coaching.
Coaching should not be confused with training. Training is what happens in the onboarding phase when sales reps learn the knowledge and skills they need to know to sell. Coaching is closing the gap between theory and experience. In training, a sales rep might learn how to close a sale using a particular technique. In coaching, a sales rep reviews with a mentor why their application of a particular sales closing technique did not work in a specific sales situation. With sufficient coaching, sales reps learn how they are not applying the techniques correctly and how to do things better in the future. Coaching can be done in a variety of ways, from job shadowing to a weekly review with a coach to analyze their last few sales.
Optimizing and organizing the sales process is probably one of the most powerful ways to improve the bottom line. It requires certain steps: Using the right technology and onboarding, training, and coaching sales reps to become top performers.
Method #4 is to teach your sales reps how to educate their prospects. Any form of sales that relies on customer ignorance is definitely immoral and possibly illegal.