Do your company’s sales change between times of plenty and times of scarcity? If so, you’re not alone. Many businesses face similar fluctuations. However, simple changes can often reduce or even solve the problem. You need to implement a sales process consistently in order to win a potential customer; from capturing the customer’s name to closing a deal.
Here are some tips on how to get more consistent sales.
Adopt a systematic approach in the search for potential customers.
The first step is to ensure that your business consistently generates enough potential customers to feed its pipeline. Too many entrepreneurs who manage day-to-day emergencies neglect prospecting.
- You must have a clear idea of how many potential customers your pipeline should contain at any given time;
- Plan each week the number of appointments you want to make with potential customers;
- Spend the remaining time on your current sales projects.
Finding potential customers may not be the easiest part of your job, but it is necessary to ensure stable sales.
Make sure you know your sales cycle.
Your company’s business determines its sales cycle, which is the amount of time between the first meeting with a potential customer and the closing of a sale. This cycle can vary considerably from one company to another. However, you should know the exact average length, measured in days, weeks or months.
To calculate the length of your sales cycle:
- List the last 20 sales you made;
- Note how long each one took;
- Average it out.
Using customer relationship management (CRM) technology can also help you get a more accurate picture of your pipeline, identifying the best customers and target audiences.
Pay attention to the numbers
Every company needs a minimum number of potential customers at all times to maintain its sales. Take a look at the number of transactions you want to make each month and your average sales cycle. It’s also helpful to know the percentage of leads that choose to make a purchase from those you’ve contacted. These numbers will help you set goals for your business.
- Your business goal is to sell three items per month;
- After an initial contact with a customer, it takes an average of four months to make a sale;
- For every four potential customers reached by salespeople, you make one purchase, which means you have a 25% closed sale rate.
In this scenario, if you keep 48 potential customers active at all times, you can almost certainly make three transactions per month. It’s as simple as that. If you decide to go to four sales per month, you need to keep a list of 64 active leads, and so on.
These numbers allow entrepreneurs to set specific, measurable goals for their sales team.
Actively seeking customer referrals
A practical rule of thumb for any business is to receive referrals from satisfied customers. Asking a customer directly to suggest potential customers is a bit awkward. One way to avoid this is to approach the problem by encouraging your customers to talk about their own customers and suppliers.
If you identify a potential customer during a conversation, you can say something like, “Would you have a problem with me calling Mr. Doe so much and mentioning our interview to him? If you contact Mr. Doe, you can start the conversation like this: “Hi, my name is John. I recently met with Robert, who thinks you could benefit from my services. Maybe we could meet to discuss this. Do you have time on Tuesday?”
Focus your efforts on making the appointment.
Unless absolutely necessary, don’t make your sales pitch over the phone. First, try to convince the potential customer to meet you and get to the point quickly. Prospects don’t like to stay on the phone too long, especially on the first call.
It is also important to schedule a second meeting as soon as the first one has taken place. You need to maintain an ongoing relationship with the prospect. Systematically planning the next step brings you closer to closing a sale.
Be prepared to respond to objections.
You should be prepared for common objections, especially when it comes to cold calling. Here are some examples:
- I’ve done business with someone else before;
- I’m too busy;
- It’s not a good time;
- Send me some documentation first. We’ll talk later.
If you can’t give clear answers, you lose the potential customer’s interest. Prepare your answers carefully. It’s important to address the objections of the person you’re talking to and try to present things in a positive light.
Also, today’s consumers, with easy access to information, may already have an opinion about your product or service, and not necessarily from your own website. So take the time to do some research to find out what information exists on the web about your business. Be prepared to respond to comments or perceptions that an informed person may make during a conversation.
Follow up and listen
Strong customer relationships are essential to making steady sales. You must show your customers that they are more than just a business transaction. Always be proactive when meeting with customers and take notes. Potential customers will have more confidence if you take the time to listen and note what they say.
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