Increasing sales: a successful action plan!

You want to increase your sales but don’t know where to start? Your company has a large variety of products and a big market to cover? Your sales team is reactive instead of proactive, and does not know which products or clients are profitable? You have a loyalty problem: only a few products are sold repeatedly to the same clients? Or a more strategic one: no right client value proposition? …You are not the only one.

Well, there are a lot of crucial areas that you must investigate before implementing or try to define a commercial planning. Only after that and having all the crucial info and data in your hands you should go and try to define a plan to tackle the issues. Don’t forget to put an effort on the implementation part (crucial to achieve results), otherwise it will be an awesome plan but only on the paper.

I propose you a 6-step approach to energize your Sales Action Plan and do-not-forget areas.

A 6-step Sales Action Plan

1) Understand your team, go along with them and try to understand how they work, assess each ones strengths and weaknesses. Ask them what are the needs and changes they would like to have covered. Profile one-by-one.

2) Do a serious analysis on your clients, profile and rank them from important to “indispensable” you should use a list with the applicable criteria in order to rank them. The 20:80 rule is a good beginning but not enough. You said that some of them are not buying the profitable products. Did you know that between 10 to 20% of a company’s clients bring a lost or at least zero profit? Wrong product and buying conditions, deliveries, payment conditions… a lot of factors can turn a client into a major lost. Ask the opinion of your sales fellows about each client, in order to profile also the clients as accurate as possible;

3) Try to interact with all the crucial departments in order to have crucial info, info that can give you ideas about increasing sales example: managerial accounting (profitable products, profitable conditions, product cost, profitable delivery timings….); Production (info about cycles…), etc Understand as much as possible when are your products profitable and when they are not, try to avoid the unprofitable areas.

4) Have a brainstorm session with your team in order to have ideas and plans to increase sales, have some insights regarding products and how you should be selling them (product mix, packaging, deals, discounts, contracts, payment conditions, order conditions, deliveries…)

5) Highlight main problems and find solutions for each of them. What can be wrong: product mix, pricing, delivery conditions, cross selling and up-selling schemes, product expertise, contract conditions, quality issue…). Or is it a strategic problem: wrong client value proposition? Try to work closely with marketing on that to solve any market incoherence;

6) Define a sales action plan starting with the goals, then present your findings and the right actions (regarding that) to achieve the goals. Present it to your team in order to fine tune them. After that define the wanted results for each action, deadlines and who is accountable for what define individual plans for each of your sales people accordingly. Put the plan in place and do a strong follow up on it, with coaching, supervision and a tight control on your plan with special focus on the KPIs (set results) and budget.

Not to forget

Do not forget to define alternative plans, act fast on deviations from the forecast objectives and results; Define the key clients and try to balance your client portfolio avoiding the 20:80 rule and pushing the 20% (of clients bringing 80% turnover) toward 30 or 40% that way you decrease your risk. There is no right plan; I believe in be efficient, hands-on and control your budget. Sell what your client need (up-sell and cross sell whenever you can) never forgetting what is profitable to your company and how you should sell each product to have the maximum profit. Negotiate with your clients having a list of subjects and not on subject by subject, that way you have more chances to reach good deal! Ah, and never forget to walk the walk!



Ever thought about: why do we have two ears but only one mouth?

The world is changing and people is changing with it! We are living in a fast spinning world we feel dizzy, not knowing what to do. Though, we would like to lead this new “wave” or at least “surf” it properly, but how can we do it? Well a lot of things must be done in order to help those who want to do something about it. Well, I find “listen” a very important skill regarding all of these.

I am sure that in this new stage relationships are more important than ever. The internet and web allowed a lot of worldwide conversations brining people together readier to interact and share.  Listening is in this sense a key aspect, a skill and behaviour that will make the difference when you are networking and creating or being part of your communities. Nowadays one does not need to be physically present to cause an impact or inspire people. And in my point of view, those who will be able to lead and link people will make the difference. Those with the ability to listen, bond and link with people will possess an incomparable advantage, they will be able to inspire people to change and improve. They will be able to help not only their companies or circles of influence but also more distant people through internet.

Listen is just one part of the communication “triangle”, and where speak and write are the other two. Each of these three vertices has its own importance and must adapt to the situation at hand in order efficiently communicate. Problem is that we like to talk and write more than listen losing that way great opportunities to innovate or change, and failing to understand why things are happening.

What does properly communicate mean? Well, not listening properly lead to “different” sender’s intention and meaning that forms in the receiver’s mind generating a gap and misunderstandings.  Can you imagine what is going one out there? No. I can tell you, out there you will find a lot of people not communicating, and generating noise instead of a two-way communication where both people understand what is being said.

I believe that a lot of the problems and misunderstandings within companies are the result of a deficient listening. Listening is a must if you want to be a leader and not only a manager or a follower. In a world where Social networking is key, without listening skills you are “dead”.

Listening is a key skill. How can one improve it?

Try to  follow these steps:

  1. Pay attention;
  2. Encourage the other person to talk
  3. Use silence to allow the speaker time to reflection and new thoughts ;
  4. Clarify the speaker’s meaning;
  5. Reflect (clarify) intentions and feelings  and respond in line with the speakers
  6. Respond to questions and requests honestly, and thoughtfully
  7. Turn one-way communication (e-mail, written docs…) in two-way communication

Here are some habits that you should start with:

  • Show interest
  • Encourage the other person to say more
  • Don’t agree or disagree
  • Notice when you are thinking or talking to yourself, and come back
  • Get comfortable with silence moments in order to avoid rushing in to fill it
  • Don’t fake understanding
  • Avoid one-way communication (written communication)

Good Luck!