Soup Up Your Sales Team

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Tepid sales may be the result of more than just a sluggish economy. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your sales approach and how you attract new customers.

Want to know how you can grow your business? Make more sales. And while the answer is a little obvious, the execution is a tad more complicated. You assess your market, price your products and services competitively, fire up your marketing and sales engines and hope for the best. But how does a small business take on the competition, deliver on its products and services, keep its customers satisfied and, at the same time, attract new customers?

In a conversation with Pedro Hernandez at Small Business Computing, Joe Fuster, senior vice president of global sales for SAP Cloud, says the answer may be in how you approach sales opportunities. Here is some of his advice.

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A Consistent Sales Force

Sit down with your entire sales team and together identify and visualize what the perfect sale would look like. With that and “a successful sale and an excellent customer experience” as your goal, write down 5 or 10 steps required to get you and your sales team to that ideal. Doing so will inform the process and keep all of your sales people focused on the outcome instead of becoming mired in the details of the sale.

Small businesses have an advantage over their big competitors: they’re much more nimble, which lets them react to changing conditions much more quickly. Fuster urges small business owners to take full advantage of that fact. “Use your lean and nimble business processes to help everyone involved reach a good outcome,” he says.

Tap Existing Accounts

Landing a customer is just the beginning of the sales odyssey. Don’t wait for repeat business. Instead, think of yourself as a general contractor and how you can provide more value to your customers. Look at your customer’s business and understand where problems might arise, and when you see a problem that your product and service can address, offer to solve it for them.

Look for Interesting Opportunities and Outcomes

Look for customers or industries that use your products in interesting ways. Does your product do better in one industry than in others? Find out why; it might be worthwhile to adjust your strategy to take advantage of any trends.

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As you keep your eyes outwardly focused on your customers, consider using the same technique with your sales team. Don’t try to clone your best salesperson. Instead, says Fuster, “look at your customer base and look at similar accounts” to find commonalities and opportunities.

Customer Communication

The bottom line is that your sales team exists to solve your customer’s problems. To do that, you need to deliver the information they want and need. But that means communicating with customers in the way that’s most effective for them. If they prefer the phone, call them. Email, website, carrier pigeon; whatever it takes.

Your goal is to be a trusted advisor to each customer, and you won’t earn that status by merely pushing products.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of Small Business Computing. Follow Lauren on Twitter.

Adapted from 5 Tips for Small Business Sales Success by Pedro Hernandez at Small Business Computing. Follow Small Business Computing on Twitter.