Closing? Busting ‘closing the sale’ myths

A. B. C. Always Be Closing. Whilst it’s true, this article will look at BUSTING the myths surrounding CLOSING THE SALE

Always Be Closing. For those sales aficionados out there who know the great sales film Glengarry Glen Ross, you’ll recognise the Alec Baldwin dominated scene from the film of the David Mamet play. (Actually, the Alec Baldwin scene is NOT in the play and was added for the film).

In this scene, Alec Baldwin’s character espouses the requirement for the harried and struggling salespeople to always be closing. He goes on to abuse them but doesn’t actually say what they should be doing differently to get the deal done.

So let’s do a better job that Alec Baldwin, let’s look at closing

One of the things I love about what we do at Cellular Attitude is the fact that we help salespeople have better lives. By better lives, I don’t just mean more money or more commission. That’s something that happens of course, however, our training also helps salespeople get more confident in what they are doing which in turn leads to less stress. Less stress leads to more happiness, and a happier salesperson sells more than an unhappy salesperson.

Closing is the key element in the salesperson’s tool kit that every salesperson should be using every day. However, many salespeople are completely flummoxed by closing, are scared of it or simply don’t understand how simple and easy closing it.

Before we explain just how ridiculously easy closing can be, let’s look at how some very highly paid sales trainers and business consultants make closing MORE complicated and HARDER to use effectively.

Here’s a list of ‘CLOSING TYPES’ that salespeople are expected to learn. I promise you, I am not making this up!

The Direct Close
The Minor Decision Close
The Alternative Choice Close. Also known as The Either/ Or Close
The Secondary Question Close
The Step By Step Close
The Question Back Close
The Half Nelson Close. Also known as The Rebound Close
The Final Objection Close
The Verbal Summary Close
The Assumptive Close. Also known as The Take It For Granted Close
The Process Of Elimination Close
The Think It Over Close
The Call Back Close
The Fear Close (ooooh!)
The Incentive Close
The Concessionary Close
The Third Part Reference Close
The Cautionary Tale Close
The For And Against Close
The Positive – Negative Close
The No Obligation Close
The Overnight Close
The Lost Sale Close
The Please, Please, Please, Please NO MORE CLOSES close

OK, so the last one in that list I made up. As you can see that’s a lot of closes to remember and frankly, in my humble opinion, it makes the job of selling and closing effectively much more confusing.

Not only that, but a lot of these ‘closes’ make me feel physically sick. Good effective, honest and ethical selling is NOT about manipulation or ‘conning’ customers.

Take ‘The Fear Close’. Here’s an example one particular training programme suggests: ‘Of course, your production losses will continue until we install it…’ First this is a terrible close and secondly, as I will explain in a moment, IT IS NOT EVEN A CLOSE!!!!! Grrrr.

Several of the others do the same thing. It’s just wrong.

Closing in sales terms is very simple.

Let’s look at some sample ‘closes’. See if you can work out what is exactly the same with every example I am showing you:

Would you like order now?
When would you like to order?
When do you want this delivered by?
How many do you want?
Do you want any particular colours?
Would you prefer red or blue?
If I can do this for you, when would you place the order?
How does that sound?
Is there anything else we add to the order?
What are you looking to do today?
Would that be OK?

Can you tell me what each close does?

OK, for those of you just skimming ahead, reading rather than stopping for a moment to think I can tell you that they are all questions.

You see, the true secret of SELLING is CLOSING and the true secret of CLOSING is asking the RIGHT QUESTIONS

That is all there is to it. No long list of different closes to learn, no need to pretend you are doing anything that is not true or hiding anything from customers.

A CLOSE is a question.
It can be an exploratory question that opens the customer up by finding everything out about them.
It can be an investigating question that ascertains what the customer is looking to achieve or prevent from happening.
It can be a confirmatory or acknowledging question to check your understanding of the client’s requirements
It can be a call to action question, the final stages of the sale, the question to check if the customer’s happy with everything.

It can be whatever is required to help the customer make the right buying decision for themselves.

From ‘Hello, do you know who deals with…’ to ”Would you mind if I asked you some questions so that I can understand your business?’ to ‘OK, so, if we can help you deal with that problem, would you be interested in a further discussion?’ to ‘All right, it looks like we have something that can help you, can I go through it with you?’ to ‘OK, how does that sound?’ to ‘Are you happy for me to place the order?’ THEY ARE ALL CLOSES and they are ALL QUESTIONS

You see, closing is simply asking the right questions at the right time.

Furthermore, if selling is closing and closing is asking the right questions, selling is simply asking the right questions.

Does that make sense?

Of course, the really big question is….

WHAT ARE THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?

For that and other great selling techniques and training tips, keep reading this weekly blog or get in touch to find out how we can help your business increase sales and improve the buying experience for your customers.

See you next week, where Bianca is writing her first blog for the website!

Keep on asking! Adam

Your attitude defines your altitude

In sales, attitude is EVERYTHING

Let’s start with your attitude. There’s an old and oft quoted saying that goes:

Your Attitude Defines Your Altitude

I think it may have be Zig Ziglar that first said this. It’s an oldie but a goldie. (Zig Ziglar is one of the Sales

Attitude is EVERYTHING in Sales. Having a positive attitude might sound obvious to you, after all, you’re reading this blog which is on a website positively drenched in positive attitude, however, you almost certainly know people who are less positive. You may employ them or have them in your family.

Let’s start with your attitude. There’s an old and oft quoted saying that goes:

Your Attitude Defines Your Altitude

I think it may have be Zig Ziglar that first said this. It’s an oldie but a goldie.(Zig was one of the greats of sales training. His ethos: You can get everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want’ is core to everything I do. I was lucky enough to meet the man, but that is a tale for later on in the blog)

Attitude is EVERYTHING in Sales.

Let’s look at why people fail first. Here’s a list of reasons that salespeople and business  people fail.

If you have a negative attitude, you will fail.

If you blame your company’s products and services for your sales results, you will fail.

If you work 9 to 5 in a commission based sales job, you will fail.

If you go to work in sales and you partake in a fair amount of chatting and socialising during the working day with your colleagues, you will fail.

If you don’t think about your clients and customers all the time and dream about your potential deals you will fail.

If you don’t finish every day and say to yourself, ‘I could not have done more today’, you will fail.

If you haven’t got the guts to ask questions you will definitely fail.

If you don’t ask the RIGHT questions, you will fail.

If you can’t be bothered actively listen to clients you will fail.

If you can’t be bothered to acknowledge what your clients have told you, you will fail.

If you don’t ethically sell the right product for the client’s needs not your own, you will fail.

If you can’t close deals, you will fail.

If you get distracted by Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc, you will fail.

If you don’t work to KPI’s you will probably fail.

If you don’t plan your day, every day, you will fail.

If you don’t try to improve your sales skills, you will fail.

If you don’t fully understand why your customers really buy your product or service, you will fail.

If you don’t have a strong desire to succeed, you will fail.

If you are not persistent, you will fail.

If you are not tenacious, you will fail.

If you are not polite and well mannered, you will fail.

If you do not speak clearly, concisely and with a good grasp of the English Language (or the language of your client), you will fail.

If you don’t put hard work in, you will fail.

If you don’t have a positive attitude, you will fail.

And lastly, if you get into the habit of being late for work, you will fail and probably get the sack.

So, if you have all of the above attributes, it follows that you will succeed!

It’s not difficult to be successful. Look at that list of ‘reasons to fail’. How many can you ensure you avoid?

Can you adhere to my TOP 25 ATTRIBUTES OF SUCCESS?

  1. Develop a positive attitude
  2. Believe in your company’s products and service.
  3. Work more than 9-5 if you run a business or are commission based
  4. Be focussed and avoid chatting to colleagues in prime selling time
  5. Think about your clients and customers all the time and dream about your potential deals. Make your job matter to you.
  6. Ensure you can say to yourself every day: ‘I could not have done more today’
  7. Have the courage to ask the right questions.
  8. Ask the RIGHT questions.
  9. Actively listen to what your clients tell you. Write notes.
  10. Acknowledge what your clients have told you, it shows you have listened to them.
  11. Ethically sell the right product for the client’s needs not your own needs to sell.
  12. CLOSE DEALS
  13. Do not get distracted by Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  14. Work to KPI’s. Make sure you understand them.
  15. Plan your day, every day. Use the Cellular Attitude day planner. It’s free, email me!
  16. Keep learning new sales skills, improve, train, learn.
  17. Fully understand why your customers really buy your product or service.
  18. Build a strong desire to succeed, be determined
  19. Become persistent, never give up.
  20. Become tenacious, stand fast to your ideals.
  21. Be polite and well-mannered in all your dealing with customers and suppliers.
  22. Speak clearly, concisely and with a good grasp of the English Language (or the language of your client).
  23. WORK HARD.
  24. Learn to network properly, join a networking group to help build a network.
  25. NEVER BE LATE FOR WORK

I am extremely keen on getting people to use positive thoughts and ideas to help them be successful in what they do. I use a series of affirmations to help you do this. These affirmations are important and useful. I have a range of these affirmations I’ve recorded in the past and provide some to clients. There are some coming to the website later in 2019.

Here’s some of the affirmations for anyone who wants to be successful in sales. You should read these out, with meaning.

Repeat them daily, it will make you a success

I have a great, positive attitude

My company’s products and services really help our clients save time, money and make their lives easier.

I will work until the job is done

I’m focussed on getting the right deal for my customers

I think about my clients and customers all the time and dream about potential deals

I aim to finish every day by saying “I could not have done more today”

I will always have a positive attitude

I will always ask the right questions

I will actively listen to my clients

I will acknowledge what they say or ask me

I will always ask questions based on what the clients say to me or ask me

  1. Always
  2. Be
  3. Closing

Always Be Closing

I will monitor my own KPI’s and I will take responsibility for my sales and my sales activity

I will constantly look to improve my sales skills

I want to succeed

I am a winner

I want to be the best salesperson I can possibly be

I am persistent

I am tenacity personified

I am well mannered and polite

I will work hard and get the job done

My glass is not just half full, it’s overflowing

I set SMART goals and achieve them.

I use day planners to ensure I achieve as much as possible

I am (insert your name) and I am a winner

I am (insert your name) and I am a winner

I am (insert your name) and I am a winner

These positive affirmations are very important to your success and you should say this to yourself twice daily.

It’s worth keeping track of these blogs as my Sales Motivation audios will be published later this year. It will have the affirmations as a track with backing music. Highly motivational and energising!

This is just a starter to get you thinking about your attitude, particularly in sales. Over the coming weeks I will continue with the theme of building a positive attitude.

My book, Cellular Attitude – the 9 step guide to a happier life, is an excellent read that acts as a book and workbook to help banish negativity from your life. The reprint will be back in time for Christmas! Treat yourself or your friends to a dose of real life-changing positivity for the festive season. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

See you next time…. Adam

A Sales Strategy? – I haven’t got time for that!

Finding your path to success: Adam Caplan  

This follows on from last week’s blog ‘Do you have a Sales Plan?’ Let’s now look at the other side of that coin, ‘Strategic Planning’

Have you ever been on a team building event where they ask you to run, blindfolded through a field? It’s scary and dangerous and probably culminates in a painful tumble if you haven’t got someone to guide you. It is very exciting though. Perhaps the need for excitement is why so many businesses run their businesses without a structured strategy.

Do you have a practical approach to strategy development?

Strategic planning is often neglected by businesses. It may be due to time constraints, a lack of understanding of strategic planning or fear that the result will send their business in a different direction. Whatever the reason, the result is the same: An increased risk and likelihood of trading difficulty or business failure.

It doesn’t matter what size your business is, you should have a strategy. This doesn’t have to be a 60-page document. It can be as simple as outlining your Mission Statement, several SMART goals to follow and the 4-part Cellular Strategy Plan, that we’ll cover in this blog.

Not sure if you need a strategic plan? Well, look at these benefits of an effective strategy:

  • Increased business resilience
  • Improved profitability
  • Larger market share
  • Efficient and effective business operation
  • Fully committed and engaged workforce
  • Happier and more satisfied customer

Our 4-stage Cellular Strategy Plan requires answering these simple questions:

  • Where are you now?
  • Why are you here?
  • Where are you going?
  • How will you get there?

Before we look at building your strategy, let’s just spend a moment on your Mission Statement. Your mission statement should clearly communicate what it is you do. Be careful not to fall into the common traps so many businesses seem to wander into. Remember these points:

No more than 15 words long

No, absolutely NO jargon or acronyms

Clear, concise and relevant

Inspire, if you can avoid it morphing into a frankenstatement of part mission and part vision statements which always end up too long.

I really like these mission statements

TED – Spreading Ideas

ALIBABA GROUP – To make it easy to do business anywhere

LINKEDIN – To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.

KICKSTARTER – To help bring creative projects to life

CHRYSLER – To produce cars and trucks that people will want to buy, will enjoy driving and will want to buy again

MICROSOFT – Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more

CELLULAR ATTITUDE – Sell More – Helping businesses grow positively

Simple, effective and outlines what the company is there for. Not details of how you do it, or even why you are doing. Just what your Mission is.

Planning your strategy

We start with the three key questions that we ask in Cellular Attitude

  • Where are you now?
  • Why are you here?
  • Where are you going?

For strategic planning we add the bonus question:

  • How will you get there?

Where are you now?

Where is your business now?

As you think about where your business is at this precise moment, review your original Mission Statement. Are you still following that ideal? Does your mission need revising because your business has changed, or have you strayed from the original plan and need to get back to that original ideal?

It is important to decide whether you want to change your mission or change your business back to the mission statement, it doesn’t matter either way, what matters is that the business and the mission are in alignment.

Once aligned or changed, you won’t need to revisit this often, just occasional checks to make sure you are, as the saying goes, ‘on mission’.

Do you have a clear understanding of the guiding principles of your business? These ‘values’ as they are often called are what you stand for and believe in. (Covered more in Why are You Here?)

You should review your strategic position regularly using a SWOT analysis (Strengths/ Weaknesses/ Opportunities/ Threats). These elements are as follows:

SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These elements are crucial in assessing your strategic position with your company. Build on your company’s strengths, reduce and shore up the weaknesses, maximise the opportunities, and identify the threats, with a plan to deal with them a very good idea!

If a shift is required, then you will need to look at what is happening internally and externally to determine how you need to shift or change.

Why are you here?

What do you and your business stand for? What do you believe in? Why are you doing this?

For example, in Cellular Attitude our guiding principles are as follows:

We want every business to achieve the best sales results possible. We seek to improve business processes, train management and staff to achieve the best sales results possible, to help companies explore new unique avenues to generate more customers that stay happier longer leading to lasting relationships, delivering actual improvements to the bottom line

The values guide your company as it goes around its daily business. What are the core values and beliefs of your company? What values and beliefs guide your daily interactions? What are you and your people really committed to?

Everyone should know these inside and out.

If you don’t have this written down and clearly understood by your entire business, it is important to do so. Indeed, if your staff are going to benefit from this, shouldn’t you also share this with your customers? Have your Mission Statement and Guiding Principles on your website and available for all to see at your offices.

Please note that generally one doesn’t state ‘to make a lot of money’ as their guiding principle. For a commercial business, it’s a given that you should operate profitably.

Where are you going?

This can be tricky to visualise for many companies. To help you answer this, other questions such as ‘What will the company look like in 5 to 10 years, the future?’, “Where are we headed?’ “What is the future I want to create for my company?’ The future is notoriously difficult to predict, which means you can enjoy imagining what it may look like.

There are two elements that can help you define the future for your business:

  • Do you have a sustainable competitive advantage? A sustainable competitive advantage explains what you are best at compared to your competitors. Strive to create an advantage that continues to be competitive in the long term. What can your company be best at? What is your uniqueness? What can your company potentially do better than any other?
  • Do you have a vision statement: Your vision is formulating a picture of what your company’s future composition will be and where it is going? What will your company look like in 5 to 10 years from now?

How will you get there?

Here is the roadmap for your company and it’s the most time-consuming part of the strategic planning.

Knowing how you’ll reach your vision is the meat of your strategic plan, but it’s also the most time consuming. The reason it takes so much time to develop is because there are several routes from your current position to your vision. Picking the right one determines how quickly or slowly you get to your destination.

Your roadmap (which is what this plan is, a route to follow to get to your destinations) should have the following pasts:

  • Strategic objectives: Strategic objectives are long-term, continuous strategic areas that help you connect your mission to your vision. These objectives encompass four areas: financial, customer, operational, and people. What are the key activities that you need to perform in order to achieve your vision? Financial requirements are a key element for many businesses: How much money will you need (and when) along the way. Customers are key, obviously. Who are they? Where will you find them? How will you approach them? Operationally you must decide the what & where of your operation before choosing the identities and roles of the people that will be helping you on the way.
  • Strategy: Strategy establishes a way to match your company’s strengths with market opportunities so that your business comes to mind when your customer wants to buy. Here’s where you map out your route out, step by step. This is the A to B route map. Does your strategy match your strengths in a way that provides value to your customers? Does it build your corporate reputation?
  • Short-term goals/priorities/initiatives: Short-term goals convert your strategic objectives into specific performance targets. You should use SMART goals to establish your objectives and targets. SMART goals are effective goals and clearly state what you want to accomplish, when you want to accomplish it, how you’re going to do it, and who’s going to be responsible. Each goal should be specific and measurable. What are the 1 to 3-year goals you’re trying to achieve to reach your vision?
  • Action items: Action items are plans that set specific actions that lead to implementing your goals. They include start and end dates and appointing a person responsible Are your action items comprehensive enough to achieve your goals? The action items should have start dates and, of course due dates.
  • KPI’s: KPI’s measure and manage your strategic plan. What are the key performance indicators you need to track to monitor whether you’re achieving your mission? Pick 5 to 10 goal related measures you can use to track the progress of your plan and plug them into your route-map/ success chart. I’ve seen clients get very creative with their visual representation of where they are in route to their destination with huge charts and one client created a Lego model that was built up over time as each element was completed.
  • Execution: In executing the plan, identify issues that surround who manages and monitors the plan and how the plan is communicated and supported. How committed are you to implementing the plan to move your company forward? Will you commit money, resources, and time to support the plan? More importantly will you keep working it, any plan is only as good as the execution and that requires effort and attention.

With all of this, you’re now ready to build your strategic plan and start following it to your destination.

Bonus Section

Sometimes, the easiest way to create your strategic plan is to use my Reverse Engineering Goal Creation process. It’s an extremely valuable tool to help businesses identify what they want and map out a route to get it. It is essential for achieving ‘escape velocity’ for businesses.

Simply put, you create a goal and track back to how to work out how to do it. There’s a lot more to the process but if you’re interested in our sending you the PDF of reverse then get in touch.

If you’re interested in discussing how Cellular Attitude can help your business devise a new sales strategy, develop your sales plan, improve the abilities of your sales teams, increase employee engagement and offer an online platform that delivers tremendous results, call Adam or Bianca on 020 8530 9797 or complete the contact form.

Do you have a SALES PLAN?

Cellular Attitude is a staff training business that has a special sales focus. With Adam Caplan’s: The Psychology of Sales flagship programme and his self-development book: Cellular Attitude – The 9-step guide to a happier life, we offer a large range of sales focussed training courses. This week we talk about the importance of having a Sales Plan and how to create one if you don’t. If you want us to help you develop your sales strategy, we can help! This article offers a step by step method to help you build your sales plan.

All businesses are reliant on sales and often our clients are the owners and senior management of organisations.

Often even senior staff have never been formally trained in some of the key elements required to generate sales for their businesses.

One of the most common areas ignored is the Sales Plan. Businesses will have a ‘business plan’ but often, there’s no formal sales plan. Since sales are so key to the entire business, it’s amazing to think that so many companies do not have a formal, annually updated and referred to sales plan.

This week’s blog will give you the tools you need to create your sales plan. Your sales team’s chances of success will be greatly increased if they have an in-depth plan to follow.

A good sales plan is specific and outlines tasks, realistic goals, and a base strategy for individuals to learn and develop their sales skills.

Creating a bullet-proof sales plan can be time-consuming and difficult – which is why they are often delayed or avoided, yet a good sales plan sets the tone for your entire year.

Sales plans are not quick and easy to make as they should include detailed goals, tools, KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators), a budget for costs and a budget for projected sales figures. Furthermore, a good sales plan incorporates a programme of learning to ensure that staff involved in sales are kept motivated, energised and at the top of their game.

Whilst the plan can be time consuming in the beginning, it will save time in the long run, and that’s time you can spend building up the business rather than focusing on minute details that will delay and side track you away from selling, selling, selling.

If you have revised your sales plan in the last 6 months, the rest of this article may be teaching you to suck eggs. If you have not done this or do not have an active sales plan for your business (and this is as true for an organisation with 25,000 staff as it is for the stand alone entrepreneur), then my humble advice is to read this article and then immediately start building your sales plan.

To create a bullet-proof sales plan, you will have to carry out pre-planning research. Ask yourself:

  • What is/are my target market/s?
  • What does my ideal customer/ client look like?
  • What are the target demographics of my client?
  • Where do I find my customers?
  • What makes my customer buy my product?
  • Can I describe the benefits of my solution simply and easily?
  • Do I understand my sales costs, margins and profits?
  • How much profit do I need to make to break even – Based on that, what sales do I need?
  • How much activity is required to a) break even and b) achieve the desired profitability?

Sales plans are how you will achieve your sales. Marketing plans are how you will get the leads in to get those sales. A marketing plan is different for the simple fact that it is used differently: the purpose of marketing is to generate leads and then turn those leads into sales. Your sales plan will include all of this, and more.

A sales plan is often called a Sales & Marketing plan for this very reason.

What comes first, the sales or the marketing?

Your sales plan must come before the marketing plan. You must define your goals for the sales before you can work out how many leads you’ll need to generate to achieve those results.

If it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. But whether you have a huge sales team and an established business, or you’re a one-person operation just getting the business off the ground, having a detailed plan to follow can make all the difference.

It’s a roadmap. You are setting the stage for future expansion and the route to get to that goal.

With a good route, you’ve got more chance of reaching your destination of ‘sales target achieved’. Without one, you’ll wander in the wilderness and you reduce the chances of getting to your goal.

What follows is a tried and tested method for building your Sales/ Sales & Marketing Plan.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Building the Template

Often called the budget, the financial planning includes several key elements.

Use the following pointers to keep you on track:

  • KPI’s. These tell you the statistics for your sales efforts from your previous year (or shorter period if a newer business)
  • Your prediction for market growth/ shrinkage for the coming year
  • A budget to work out your costs (Commonly includes cost of sales, marketing budget and other sales/ marketing costs)
  • Who will help you create the plan (if anyone)? I always look to include sales team members in this part as they are going to be delivering this. If they were involved in the creation, they can’t turn around and disagree with the plan later in the year!

Whilst the plan will give a strategy, it also needs to explore the ‘bigger picture’.

Reverse engineering Sales Goals is a key training plan we offer everyone involved with selling from CEO’s to salespeople to individual operators. Simply put, it means working out what you want and how you will get there in a step by step manner. (It’s covered in more depth in our training programmes)

Think: Where do I want to be? – What do I need to do to get there? – How will I go about doing that? – What changes do I need to make to do that?

A good plan targets the right customers, sets achievable sales revenue goals, involves strategies, looks at pricing and accommodates special offers, has a cashflow plan, outlines deadlines and key people in the business, examines the team structure, and considers market forces.

When this is collated (or at least a good amount is collated) you can start to scope out the plan.

Part 1 – Mission and Objectives

Your company may have a ‘mission statement’ Most companies have a mission statement and operate based on that concept. For your sales plan you should incorporate the ethos behind the mission statement to create the AIM of your sales plan.

Consider:

  • What is your company’s USP (Unique Selling Point)?
  • Does your company have certain principles that separate it from the rest?
  • Do you understand the brand message of your company?

Use the above as the basis for your business strategies. You should stay aligned your original goals as a company. This is the MISSION Part. Now OBJECTIVES

Consider:

  • Where do you want the company to be next year?
  • How many new customers do you want to bring in?
  • Have you a clear idea of revenue?
  • Will there be any new marketing campaigns to start this year?
  • What events will you do?

This creates a framework for strategic and budgetary planning

Part 2 – Financial Goals (Use SMART goals)

Now you have your overall plan, you can work out your exact financial goals. It’s important to do through a structured process. Too many times I have come across arbitrary financial sales targets that were either plucked out of thin air or just were last year’s target plus 15%. One business I worked with some years ago had increased the sales target every year by 10%. The problem is that the sales team had not achieved the original target, let alone the increased targets. As a result, the sales team had lost all motivation and the targets were completely unachievable. We took the client through this process, created a new plan, retrained and re-energised the team and the very next year they exceeded the original target and narrowly missed the planned increased for year 5. It was a sales increase of 147% in one year. One step back to take three forward in this case.

Estimating the revenue objectives can be achieved using the SMART goals acronym:

  • Specific – What exactly do you want achieved? Not just a value but a breakdown of how that value is to be split across your business products and services
  • Measurable – How will you measure these sales
  • Attainable – Can this be done? Do you have the structure and support in place to hit these targets?
  • Relevant – Have you made the goals relevant to the sales team? Have they bought into your vision?
  • Timed – Have you a step by step sales forecast that can monitor their progress? Will you share this with the team?

Now you can start to structure the sales plane with revenue, costs and profit

SMART works because it helps achieve reachable goals that measure success within realistic time frames. It allows you to stay in control of the sales process and will give you an early earning if the team are behind their targets.

Sometimes goals are set for sales teams by people who are not directly involved with customers and the product or services. This should be discouraged as it creates potentially unreasonable targets the demotivate staff and reduce potential sales revenue. It’s NOT a good idea to deliberately set very high targets in the hope that the salespeople will try harder and therefore get higher sales, even if they miss the target. It will not happen and will unnecessarily load pressure on people thus reducing performance or introducing burn out into the sales team.

If the goals are ultimately unreachable, it will appear to the staff that the company is failing, create doubt and demotivate the entire company. If your team feels like they can readily attain those targets, they can see and feel a real sense of accomplishment – and you will too.

Your projected revenue should be based on a) previous tears sales b) market forces c) the ‘math of sales’ (staff x activity x closing rate = sales) d) market predictions for the coming year

Part 3 – Identifying Your Customers – existing and potential

Your business cannot exist without customers.

What digital technology do you use to track your customers, their demographics and behaviour?

When creating a sales plan, you should really be identifying your customers, who they are, what they buy, why they buy and how you will approach them

If you have KPI’s this is a good place to start. If you do not have past KPI’s, you’ll have to create some assumptions to accurately build a profile of the perfect customer type.

Demographics should include the usual things like age, location and job role. You could psychological profiles for your ideal customer. This helps you frame the sales and marketing message you are putting out there.

Creating a chart with the data you want to capture is a good idea. Remember to conform to GDPR though!

Part 4 – Sales strategy and selling tactics

With this data, you can work with your marketing team to create a strategy that will generate leads from your target customer demographic. This will generate RELEVANT leads and improve your CLOSING conversion rates.

In strategic planning you should have three elements

Short term – Day to day operational targets. How many customers do you contact every day? How many leads are generated? How are the team performing against the activity targets? What are the conversion rates?

Medium term – Quarterly reviews and reports and how are you doing over the quarter in terms of your marketing results (marketing spend and tactic against actual leads created. Leads created per marketing activity against deals closed)

Long term – Annual reporting and review of everything that happened in the last year. This in turn helps you construct the plan for next year

Those are the steps that your team will address every day to make your goals happen. Be specific with these tasks so you can lay out an accurate budget.

Step 5 – Financial Budget

With your revenue goals created, the next step is to add the financial budget,

Using the information already laid out, you can add in the accurate costs of sales (staff wages, marketing spend (advertising/ collateral/ events/ etc, product cost) and any other associated costs. REMEMBER to add sales commissions if relevant! These will be based on sales achieved which means you may have to brush up on those Excel worksheet formula skills) Remember to include

This ties in with you overall business plan and is a good checkpoint to make sure your business plan matches what you require from the sales plan.

Create a financial budget for each department within your sales team – Do you need more salespeople to deliver sales based on the leads you are expecting to get? Do you need to increase your advertising spend to get the required leads to feed the salespeople?

Look at where you will get the most ‘bang for your buck’. Which activities generate the most return. Don’t spend money on something that traditionally give a low return on investment over a long period of time when there are other strategies that return larger amounts over a shorter time, freeing up further reinvestment to return more revenue, etc.

Don’t forget expenses like travel, supplies, paid advertisements, and outside charges. If you’re going to use a recruitment agency to hire new salespeople, include these costs.

Software costs must be allocated as well as print and web promotion costs.

Keep an eye on the costs against budget throughout the year, you do NOT want any nasty surprises alter in the year.

Part 6 – Lay Out an Actionable Plan

Finally, you can put it all together. This is your last step.

You’ll need all the information you’ve created above to create a daily, actionable plan that your sales team work to and you can track the progress of.

Assign managers and team leaders to monitor and evaluate so they can report back the results to you. Ensure everyone know their place in the process and that there are not political disagreements.

These are the people that will make this happen, so make sure they have bought in to this. If you’ve included them in the creation of the plan in the first place, they will be much more emotionally invested in achieving a successful sales year.

Now you put in the key performance indicators that allow you to track success:

List out the trackable items: Weekly new customers/ weekly google ranking/ how many leads are generated a month etc. These can include many things not listed here that you want to see happen in the year. Put a deadline to them – so: I want to be on page 1 Google ranking for ‘x’ search term by ‘x’ date.

Anything related to the sales performance of the business should be noted here with timelines and goals.

The size of your company will determine how detailed this plan is. The good news is that if you are a large organisation, they very act of getting others involved increases the chance of success whilst reducing your workload.

Set aside budget for rewarding success for team members and the company for achieving targets. It will massively motivate everyone.

If you build it, they will come!

Build the plan. Publish it to the people working it, follow up with the regularly to ensure it is being followed and working and the sales will come!

Flexibility is critical when it comes to leads and conversion rates, flexibility is vital to success. If you see areas working better than expected, divert resources away from less successful ones. Follow the money as they say.

Your planning and preparation have enabled you to be able to react to market forces and increase revenue instead of blindly following the order from the top.

Do not act like ‘The Charge of The Light Brigade’ and continue to follow orders that are going to fail, be adaptable.

With six simple steps, you have made a sales plan that will increase your sales, motivate your staff and give your business the best chance to deliver good profits year on year.

At Cellular Attitude, we work with companies looking to develop their sales plans and help restructure businesses so that they are sales led, not production or accountancy lead.

Our executive coaching and mentoring programme gives CEOs, directors, owners of businesses from multi-national corporations in all sectors to medium, small and micro business owners the opportunity to access a different point of view and help structure their businesses to be sales powerhouses, whatever the product or service being sold.

If you’d like to discuss how we can assist, call us on 020 8530 9797. We offer a money back guarantee that you will get a return on your investment if you follow our advice.

Why is selling important for your business?

It should be an obvious question but ask your staff and you’ll be amazed by the different answers you will get, I’m afraid.

The Psychology Of Sales is our signature training programme and over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to ask the headline question a number of times.

Do all company directors and employees understand the importance of selling?
Ask some of them…

You may or may not have some experience in sales and you may or may not have had some success in it. You may not even consider that your role is a sales role at all. You may be involved in the customer service arena. You may work in accounts. You may have an administrative function or work on reception. You may be a senior manager, director or you may even be the owner of the business.

Whatever your role, sales will be an important part of your company if it involved in any way with acquiring and servicing customers.

Consider this: All businesses that have customers are reliant on sales.

If you are one of the salespeople or sales representatives for your business you might consider this: Without sales there is no business. If you are not directly involved in sales, you should also be aware of the importance of sales to your business. Your customers provide the revenue that allows the business to operate.

There is pressure for salespeople, for without good results your position becomes threatened, however, if you are any good, not only can you write your own pay cheque but you also become a highly prized and sought after asset to the company. However, as a salesperson you have a great deal of responsibility to deliver the results for them.

The idea of selling often makes non-sales people feel uncomfortable and there is often a perception that sales skills are shrouded in mystery. There is also a perception that selling itself is something that is difficult to do and unpleasant to undertake. Even experienced salespeople sometimes think that selling is hard. Personally, I don’t think it’s difficult when the right attitude is in place, but then, I’m biased as I’ve helped so many people get to the pinnacle of their company.

It’s a pity that selling gets such a bad rap. It is one of the most rewarding jobs available. There are many people who could be extremely good at selling who never get the chance to realise their potential.

Selling isn’t actually difficult if you understand how to do it and why it is important to most industries. If you tried to drive a car without any instruction, this would be hard to do. Yet, because all car drivers have had instruction, many of us are able to drive a car easily. Selling is very similar. It’s easy when you know how.

Everything we do aims to introduce you to selling effectively, confidently and achieving actual results that make a difference to the bottom line. Perhaps, if you have the right attitude, you can become the best salesperson that you can possibly be. At the very least we want to de-mystify the whole sales process so that you will understand what it is that a ‘natural born salesperson’ does that makes selling look so easy.

Perhaps you can learn to be a natural born salesperson. I certainly think you can!

I appreciate that you may consider yourself to be an excellent salesperson already, however, the situation is that these weekly blogs can show you a completely new perspective on the selling process and you may find that it helps you a great deal, if you use some of the techniques outlined, so I’d like you to approach everything that follows with an open mind and an open heart.

Would that be OK?

See you next week, Adam.