In today's struggling economy, maintaining strong sales growth can pose a big challenge. It's OK to sulk for a little while, but you'll soon have to take action. One of the most efficient and least expensive solutions to this problem is to focus on creating better processes and leverage the existing tools you already have. Here are six tips to help grow your sales using resources you already have.
Be More Organized
Know who your current customers are, who your prospects are and how you became aware of them. Keep all information regarding customers and prospects up-to-date so that you have accurate data available when needed. If you are an Outlook user, you can be more organized by leveraging Outlook's contact, calendar and tasks features. You can also keep an Excel spreadsheet of contact information, but maintaining that list that can get arduous if you have many contacts.
Focus on the Funnel
At any given time, your sales cycle will include various deals at different stages of completion. Tracking where specific clients are in this sales cycle is vital to ensuring that none of your deals fall through the cracks. To keep track of your sales pipeline, you should develop a list of milestones that you would like your sales team to achieve.
The milestones will be different for every business, but should include three to five decision or contact points. For example, some points might be the initial contact, a follow-up, a verbal agreement and a written contract.
Again, you can create a spreadsheet listing each individual sale, where each deal is in the sales process, and the estimated date of closure. If you have many opportunities, or want to share the information, getting a CRM application makes sense.
Track Who Your Evangelists Are and Thank Them
It is important to keep track of your customers, but it is also essential to maintain relationships with your referral sources. By noting which sources have referred the majority of your sales, you can begin to see which of them are providing the most sales opportunities and focus your attention more directly on them. If you are using a CRM solution, you should see if it has thes capability to tie referral information to sales in the pipeline.
Another good practice: Every time someone refers a customer to you, thank them immediately with a handwritten note or a quick email. This is a common courtesy that many are guilty of neglecting.
Measure Your Progress
Make sales expectations known to employees and make achievements measurable. One way to do this is to use the stages of the sales cycle as levels of achievement. More sales will be finalized and more revenue will be made when an employee is well informed and knows what is expected.
For example, a sales employee might be expected to make ten new contacts and move three accounts onto the next stage of the sales cycle each week. This will make expectations clearer, allowing employees to effectively meet them.
Get Out There
It is essential to keep your company and your product in front of customers. One way to do this is to create and distribute a newsletter with items of interest to current and potential clients within your industry. But your newsletter can't just be spam--it must add value to your customers' life. Another tactic to help keep you on the frontlines is to host an open house at your offices to get better acquainted with your local customer base and try to build better relationships with them.
Leverage Your Existing Tools
As another way to boost sales, capitalize on what your team is already doing and streamline it. If an individual salesperson is using a certain tool or has developed an efficient process that they're using on their own, find a way to expand it to a corporate level. Reward individuals for sharing their best ideas with the entire sales team.
Once you have defined your existing sales processes and are effectively leveraging what you already have, then it might be time to get CRM software. Most people do it wrong by going for the software first hoping that it's the panacea to their pain when really it's their processes that needs fixing. I'll share more on this in future posts.
James Wong is the co-founder and CEO of Avidian Technologies, the makers of Prophet, the easy CRM software for Outlook. James is a seasoned entrepreneur and founder of three successful companies, and an active investor and supporter of entrepreneurship.