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Why effective sales performance is about efficiency, not pure effort

  • By
  • Managing Director

Working ‘smart’ instead of working ‘hard’ sounds like an old-fashioned snippet of information from an American corporate training video of the 1980s, but the underlying message has never been more important in all areas of business. When it comes to sales, working ‘smart’ involves making the very best use of available time and resources, and there are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that no opportunities are being missed.

One of the most important characteristics a salesperson requires is a high level of self-discipline – the ability to maintain momentum and carry on in all situations. When times are good and leads are converting it is usually relatively simple to carry on making outbound calls while also chasing existing sales prospects. In stormier waters, there can sometimes be a nagging sense of doubt that has a direct effect on a salesperson’s attitude, and prospective clients will usually pick up on this. Sales can be unpredictable at times and it is nearly impossible to predict when that all-important major contract will be won.

When visualising a ‘sales funnel,’ it is vital to take steps that identify any gaps and leaks that could reduce the efficiency of any sales efforts. This concept involves having a large amount of leads and prospects at the top of the process, before they are gradually whittled down to the most suitable opportunities and sales at the bottom. One particular ‘leak’ could be a number of leads that are not worth following up, such as those with an inadequate budget or a lack of authority to make purchases. By taking the time to remove these elements from the sales funnel, the capacity to handle a higher volume of incoming leads should increase, and continually qualifying leads is a cyclic process that can bring a higher level of sales as a result.

Although recognising that conversion rates need to be high is pretty much a ‘given,’ any serious salesperson will always be willing to develop their own personal sales skills to ensure that leads always have the best chance of converting. By making a real effort to understand the statistical elements of any prospective client, it will soon become obvious that any solution is in effect being tailored to their individual needs. As a broad example, offering a software product with 500 licenses to a sole-proprietor could show a total lack of understanding, and it also demonstrates that a salesperson is only interested in the final transaction. A personalised touch will not only lead to a greater rate of conversions, it will also lay the foundations for future deals.

When it comes down to it, sales people need to be smart and work hard. By never spurning training and paying close attention, it is possible to make the demands of sales a little easier.

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