10 Questions for a Great New Year – Sales Tactics for 2013

With the potential for further economic recovery, 2013 can be a great year for sales. Whether you are a manager or a sales person, you’ll have to be prepared to make the most of opportunities that come along in the coming year.

While we should always be adjusting our sales tactics to current markets, now is a natural time for implementing change. Any effort you expend improving your sales game will contribute to your advantage over the competition. The below questions are a great tool to get you started. Get ahead of the sales game and thrive in 2013 by starting now.

10 Questions to determine, “Are you ready?” (and help you get ready if you’re not)

  1. Is your Ideal Client Profile (ICP) properly Defined?
  2. Does the market need your product or service?
  3. Have you established a sales training program?
  4. Do you have a winning sales strategy?
  5. Is your selling process defined?
  6. Is your sales support structure in place?
  7. Do you have the right people on your sales team?
  8. Are your sales goals aligned with corporate goals?
  9. Do you have clear product differentials to stand out against the competition?
  10. Are your value propositions what the client needs, or what you think the client needs?
  1. Is your Ideal Client Profile properly Defined?
    Defining or profiling your organization’s ideal client is extremely important to ensure focus and consistency. By defining your target, sales people can have a laser-like focus in pursuing new business and your managers will know what is good business or bad business. In economic down times, taking on business is important but taking on good business is more important. Many companies, in an effort to survive, deviate from their targets. This may work in the short run, but without a focus sales people may drift away from profitable business, or management may take too many risks in trying to achieve growth. By staying within your profile, the company and your sales people will find success much more rewarding.
  2. Does the market need your product or service?
    Over the years we’ve been approached by many entrepreneurs who sincerely thought they had the best idea ever. Some ideas do seem to be great, but others are just too advanced for the average user to understand. Many ideas are strong, but the application to the targeted market wouldn’t bear fruit. Even if you’ve been in business for years, you must evaluate your position in the market. You must know if your customers still demand your product or if your competition has grown beyond your current capabilities.
  3. Have you established a sales training program?
    Sales training programs need to develop consistency throughout the sales team. Every sales professional typically has nuances that make him/her successful. I would never change these, but delivering the message consistently and touching all the key points in the sales process is essential. Sales training should reinforce the positives and work towards strengthening sales professionals’ weaknesses. Focus on specific areas of concern, then make immediate corrective actions so bad habits don’t formulate. Even the top sales professionals should welcome new ideas and look forward to gaining tips and ideas to win new business. Use your top sales people as guides to help your underperforming reps. Remember – training is a lifetime event, not a weekend seminar!
  4. Do you have a winning sales strategy?
    Before each year your sales strategy needs to be analyzed for 5 key elements – Target, Direction, Methods, Management and Success. Are you aiming at the right target, has your direction been laid out and is it understood? Have you prepared your team with the right methods and tools? Do you have methods of measurement to monitor success and have you hired the right people? Can you verify where you’ve been successful and are you celebrating your success? Selling is difficult enough, so remember to find your target, align your goals, measure your success and celebrate your victories!
  5. Is your selling process defined?
    Managers need to align their processes to meet corporate expectations. In order to effectively manage sales and grow an organization, selling processes must be properly communicated and the front line and the support team educated. I’ve seen 24-step sales processes and 4-step sales processes within organizations. Neither is right unless the end result can be effectively and efficiently communicated and managed. Managers, Executives and Board Members rely on the consistency and accuracy of the sales team, so proper alignment is essential to growth and stability.
  6. Is your sales support structure in place?
    Sales professionals are only as successful as the support team around them. Sales support includes finance for pricing, technical assistance for the bits and bytes talk, marketing for lead generation and communication, proposal and research teamwork, along with executive support to get deals closed. Sales will not be effective if the team is not complete. Working as a team is the key to future success.
  7. Do you have the right sales team in place?
    Have you spent the necessary time evaluating the hiring process within your organization? Have you formally reviewed each sales person’s performance on a semi and annual basis? Have you implemented a sales training program that is continual throughout the year and reinforces the selling process you’ve established? Hiring the right people eliminates struggles further down the road. If you have dedicated professionals with a targeted focus, you’ll be ready to succeed.
  8. Are your sales goals aligned with corporate goals?
    Review and verify your sales incentives. Many times sales goals are not aligned to meet the real corporate requirements. If your company needs to achieve a higher result in a specific area, then confirm you’ve placed enough performance-based incentives on the target area. Sales people sell where they make money, it’s that simple. If incentives are weighed towards achieving financial success versus corporate requirements, sales will lean towards individual financial success. Each year quotas and commission plans should be evaluated and tested.
  9. Do you have clear product differentials to stand out against the competition?
    Have you taken the necessary time to review your product/service? How does it compare to the competition? What makes you unique? What makes your product stand out when compared to the competition? If you think you don’t have any competition, think again. Competition is always there and changing. Be prepared and informed. A knowledgeable sales professional is the most successful sales professional.
  10. Are your value propositions what the client needs, or what you think the client needs?
    Too many times companies believe their own marketing materials! You must have clear value propositions, but remember the value must be what the client needs or perceives they need. You are solving problems and the value you bring will cure what the client needs. The value you bring is to resolve issues, reduce costs, increase performance, etc. Align your value with the needs of your clients.

Making adjustments to your team will ensure earlier success for next year. Reducing sales cycles and eliminating non-selling activity should be a focus for the management team. Increasing effectiveness through proper hiring practices, targeted marketing campaigns and ongoing training programs will result in success for 2013.

This is going to be a great year! Focus on Success.