Turn More Salespeople into Superstars

A process is a series of related steps that lead to a desired result. If members of your sales are out of sync, having a formal sales process can help them get back in line.

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Although not every salesperson can be a superstar, an improved sales process can improve your associates' performance and your company's profitability. Here are eight steps to follow:

1. Determine prospects. Does your marketing department help you generate leads by creating customer profiles? Establish a database of customers who can benefit from your products or services. It can better focus your sales staff's efforts.

2. Maintain sales activity records. Your sales people interact with many potential customers. Because it's critical to keep track of what's said or promised at every step of the sales cycle, consider implementing one of the contact management systems on the market. In addition, require your sales staff to limit the administrative aspects of their jobs to either early or late in the day. After all, the most effective sellers spend the best part of the day calling and meeting with customers.

3. Develop consistency. Top salespeople generally repeat the same successful basic tasks. Experience allows them to fine-tune tactics to achieve greater sales results. Find out what your superstars use as tactics and make them part of the process for all sales associates.

4. Build relationships. Customers buy from people they like, trust and deliver what they claim. Your sales staff must develop relationships with those they serve. This applies to both long-term sales and quick, transactional business.

5. Ask effective questions. When talking with prospects, your sales staff must know what draws customers to your company. Salespeople who make great presentations but don't ask effective questions are doomed to mediocrity. The most effective salespeople follow the 20/80 Pareto principle. They spend 80% of their time listening and 20% talking. A large portion of the talking time should be used asking intelligent, insightful questions based on customer research done before the sales call.

6. Qualify prospects. The most valuable nonrecurring asset you possess is time. Effective salespeople spend their time with prospects who are the most likely to buy. Aspects of a worthy prospect include:

7. Overcome objections. The worst scenario for a salesperson is to spend a large amount of effort on a sale only to have an unknown issue come out of left field and kill the deal. Closing should be the easiest part of the sale, but for many, it's the most difficult. An objection is viewed as a bad thing, but in reality, it can be a good thing for the sales process. Why? Because an objection is basically a customer request for more information. If handled correctly, it educates the prospect and builds relationships between the prospect and the salesperson. Encourage your sales staff to actively raise possible objections rather than hope they never come up.

8. Present solutions. Wonderful sales presentations are useless without perceived needs being satisfied. Your product or service must fix a problem or help establish a goal. Otherwise, what motivation is there to spend money? Before sales associates begin presentations, make sure they understand why the customer needs to buy.

Paint a Picture: What Does a Sales Superstar Look Like?

Generally speaking, sales superstars possess three key characteristics: Aptitude, an eye for numbers and sales tactics.

A winning sales process should address each of these three characteristics.

After you've identified characteristics of strong sales performance for your company, document and promote them. Create an effective training program for your staff and put in place mechanisms for ongoing coaching.

If a train rolls on a track that's missing a rail somewhere, it will eventually derail. If your staff follows a sales process, but misses a vital step, an opportunity will be lost.

Creating a sales process that defines and promotes success will increase your staff's ability to land larger sales and boost your bottom line.

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