Part A: Create Your 90-Day Plan
Step 1: Identify Your Goals
In the realm of business, sales prowess stands as an essential cornerstone for success. To commence on this journey, a robust plan, ample financing, and untapped potential form the foundation. As the team at AFM Services, we are devoted to empowering small businesses with the tools they need to flourish. Early adoption of online accounting software, such as Xero, is a pivotal step towards attaining financial clarity and control, ultimately helping you improve your sales and achieve sustainable growth.
Decide what specific outcomes you want from your growth plan. Some examples include:
- Increased revenue
- Higher margins
- More new customers
- Greater number of returning customers.
Whatever you focus on, make your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound).
Examples of SMART Goals:
- Acquire 50 new customers
- Cultivate second purchases from 10 of the 50 new customers
- Garner 1,000 weekly website visits with a 5 per cent conversion rate
- Generate $200,000 in new revenue by boosting sales to existing clientele.
Once you’ve identified your goals, discuss them with your team and get their feedback. It’s easier to get their buy-in on your plans if they’ve had a chance to share their thoughts and feelings and take some ownership of the plan. After all, your team is vital to your success.
Your sales team also knows a lot about your customers and what doesn’t work when selling to them.
Step 2: Define Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Your key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable measurements of how your business is doing related to a specific objective.
This means your KPIs must be related to your strategic goals. It doesn’t help to have KPIs related to transportation costs if your goal is to improve your sales. KPIs related to sales include metrics that can be related to:
- Sales by region
- Sales over time
- Increases in new customers
- Number of online sales.
Regularly share and discuss these KPIs with your team, encouraging open dialogue regarding progress, achievements, and any hurdles faced. Set aside dedicated time slots for progress reviews, allowing for timely adjustments and course corrections.
Share what worked well in the past. If your team has difficulty meeting your KPIs it might be a sign that you need to re-evaluate your goals.
This means setting out milestones so you can review your progress and compare it to your goals. If your plan is only 90 days, you don’t want to wait until day 80 to review how you’re doing. Consider each team member’s strengths and challenges when setting out their milestones.
Step 3: Describe Your Ideal Customer
An intimate understanding of your target audience is paramount in crafting effective sales strategies to improve your sales. Delve into your customer data, uncovering patterns and preferences. Profile your ideal customer succinctly, encapsulating their demographic, psychographic, and behavioural traits.
When compiling your research, take note of customer clues such as:
- Any common characteristics (e.g.) age, gender, education, interests, and income as well as psychological traits
- The biggest problem they want to solve and any barriers—real or perceived
- How and where they spend their time
- How they prefer to communicate with you—in person, by phone, email or online; or,
- For business-to-business customers, their buying cycles.
This will then enable you to find a customer profile. For example, “Our customers are busy, health-conscious new moms with a family income exceeding $180,000 a year living within 5 kilometres of our business.”Remember, you may have multiple customer profiles!
This detailed snapshot empowers you to tailor your sales efforts to this specific group of people, enabling you to more efficiently move prospects through your sales funnel.
Step 4: Map Out Your Customer Journey
The customer journey is the path people take from being a prospect to being a loyal customer. In addition to knowing who you want to target, you need to know how they interact with your business, including what does and doesn’t work for them.
Here are some questions to ask:
- When was the last time you bought something similar to our service or product?
- What was the problem you needed that service or product to solve?
- What factors encouraged you to make that purchasing decision?
- Was it a positive experience or a negative experience?
- What features in our product or service are important to you?
- If you’re looking to solve a problem, how have you previously solved this issue?
- How do you evaluate whether a solution works for you?
- What steps do you expect a company to take after a sale to ensure you feel confident in the decision?
Understanding the customer journey means also understanding why people choose not to become customers. If they aren’t buying, why aren’t they buying? What could you do to be more successful in the future? If training or professional development is required for your salespeople, include that in your sales plan. Identify what training is required and develop a plan for ensuring you follow through on it.
Step 5: Choose Targeted Strategies
If your goal is to improve your sales by double in 90 days, your best bet may be to connect with your current customers. After all, guiding a “warm” prospect through the sales process is easier than convincing a new customer to buy because you haven’t yet established trust.
It’s also often easier to sell something additional to an existing customer such as a related product or an upgraded service-than it is to convince someone new to buy anything from you. If your upgraded products or services are relevant to your clients, it might be simple for you to reach out to them to let them know about what you’re offering and invite them to make use of it.
If you have clients who are loyal to your business, you can also ask for referrals. Referrals are often easier to sell to because they come with some implied trust. Goodwill is generated when someone whose opinion they value endorses you. You don’t have to work as hard to build up a relationship with them. If your plan involves attracting new customers, you’ll want to draw upon your customer profile to identify where you can find more customers just like your existing ones.
This background information will help to plan an effective promotional
campaign. Likely you will choose to:
- Find new customers to approach
- Sell more to existing customers or,
- Re-engage dormant customers.
Step 6: Shorten Your Sales Cycle
Depending on the type of business you run, your sales cycle might be incredibly short or very long. Longer sales cycles tend to occur in businesses where the products or services are costly, long-term, or highly sensitive, or where your business is selling to another business, requiring more time for the customer to make a purchasing decision or receive purchasing approval.
Some steps you can take to shorten the sales cycle:
- Automate repetitive tasks, such as emails, scheduling meetings, data entry and company research
- Focus on qualified leads
- Make sure you’re talking to the people in the organisation that have authority to make purchasing decisions
- Listen to prospect objections and respond to them
- Make it easy for prospects to make purchases or sign necessary documents from any of their device
- Be someone people want to talk to, not just a salesperson
- Focus your efforts on the channels that bring you the best results, rather than trying to improve lower-performing channels
- Invite prospects to an event where current customers can talk about their experiences with your business
- Ask for the close at the end of the sale
- Email prospects your case studies, rather than waiting for prospects to ask for them
- Eliminate cold or disinterested contacts from your CRM
- Build relationships by sending out personal emails and relevant content.
Part B: Sharpen Your Sales Skills to Improve your Sales
Once you’ve got your sales plan written out, it’s time to evaluate and improve your selling skills, especially if your selling process involves direct contact with customers.
Step 7: Improve Your Sales by Improving Conversion Rate
Improving your conversion rate is akin to fine-tuning a well-oiled machine. It’s about enhancing the efficiency of your sales process to turn more prospects into loyal customers. In the world of sales, the AIDA framework “Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action” holds immense significance. Each step represents a pivotal stage in your sales funnel, with customers progressing at their own pace.
Awareness: Prospects become acquainted with your brand.
Interest: They express interest in your product or service, seeking to learn more.
Desire: This stage signifies a transition from liking your offering to a genuine want.
Action: The prospect takes a definitive step, such as reaching out or making a purchase.
For returning customers who are already acquainted with your offerings, concentrate your efforts on the Interest and Desire phases, which are the core of your sales funnel. Pinpoint the pivotal stages where customers often disengage, and collaborate with your sales team for valuable insights. Armed with this knowledge, you can fine-tune your approach, guaranteeing a more seamless journey through the pipeline and ultimately working to improve your sales performance.
Step 8: Anticipate Objections
Mastering objection handling is crucial for any proficient salesperson. Utilising open-ended questions proves invaluable in revealing the root causes of customer hesitations. Additionally, a profound understanding of your products and services enables you to offer customised solutions precisely when they’re required.
Now, think about the impact of reframing, the art of transforming how your offerings are viewed. Emphasise the advantages in a manner that aligns with your customer’s desires and goals. Through this approach, you not only conquer objections but also illuminate how your product or service effectively addresses their pain points, ultimately working to improve your sales performance.
Common Objections and Effective Responses:
Objection: “We don’t have the budget”
Solution: Showcase the incredible value and emphasise the benefits over features. Demonstrate how your solution optimises their operations or fulfils their needs.
Objection: “It’s not a good time”
Solution: Create urgency by highlighting the relief your solution offers. Motivate them with a time-limited offer that adds compelling value.
Objection: “I need to consult with my manager”
Solution: Request the right contact and propose a conversation with the decision-maker. It’s a proactive move to keep the sales process moving forward.
Objection: “I need more time”
Solution: Offer a test drive or demo to build credibility and solidify trust. Prompt follow-up is essential to maintain momentum.
Step 9: Make Use of Closing Strategies to Improve your Sales
Closing a deal requires finesse and timing. Adopting a thoughtful approach is key. Asking open-ended questions and listening attentively to customer responses. Each interaction should guide the conversation towards a specific objective for the sales call.
Effective Closing Strategies:
Leverage an attractive, time-limited offer to prompt action. Align the urgency with the customer’s expressed timeline for maximum impact.
For example, “It sounds like we’ve covered all your questions now. Is there any reason we can’t move forward with the order?”. Summarise your discussions and seamlessly transition into asking for the next step. This approach capitalises on the trust and desire you’ve built.
For example, “As we’ve discussed, all our products come with a full money-back guarantee so there’s no risk, as well as a 5-year warranty on parts and free installation. What would be the best date for delivery?” Recap the benefits of your product or service in an enticing package. Reinforce the value proposition to give that final nudge towards a positive decision.
Approaching B2B and B2C sales
It takes a different mindset to effectively sell to businesses (B2B) than it does to sell to consumers (B2C) because buying criteria and processes are very different.
For business-to-business selling, it’s important to do some background research on the company before making contact. Do some online research into the particular challenges a company in their industry might face. This will help you evaluate whether an account would be profitable and is worthwhile to pursue as well as any potential issues that might impact the sale.
Check the company’s website to learn more about their objectives as well as any information that can help you match your offerings with what the business needs now, or down the line. See if you can find out anything about their business processes, or info that might help your salesperson adjust their approach.
Last but not least, before you make a sales call, confirm you’re connecting with the right person, someone who understands the needs of the organisation and has the authority to make buying decisions. You can learn more about the person by visiting his or her LinkedIn profile and reviewing social media posts.
Unlike B2B selling, B2C sales typically have a much shorter cycle, as consumers tend to make buying decisions quickly. Keeping your unique value proposition (UVP) top of mind will help you connect with more buyers on and offline and ideally, convince them to buy. Your UVP encapsulates what makes your offering better than others. For example, a home renovator might promote experience as their UVP. A grocery store might highlight their local produce as their UVP. Getting this right is vital because it will come into play whenever you talk about your products and services in face-to-face interactions with prospects, at networking events, on your website, and throughout your marketing collateral.
Step 10: Measure Results
As you make efforts to improve your sales figures, you need to track customer sales and the performance of your team members. That way, you can find out what’s working and which strategies or processes need improvement.
Remember your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to watch over your 90-day sales challenge can include:
- Sales cycle metrics (i.e.) how long each phase took to complete in the pipeline
- Time spent on each sale
- Closing rate
- Average purchase value.
Depending on your marketing strategy, you may also want to look at online metrics like:
- Number of downloads/sign-ups for a free offer
- Conversion rate
- Lead to close ratio
- Customer value
- Projected return on investment.
Keep an eye on your Google Analytics, social media activity, newsletter sign-ups and any other methods that can tell you whether you’re reaching more leads.
Why not use what you’ve learnt to plan another 90-day sales challenge but this time targeting a different consumer niche or business category? Consider implementing a new three-month sales plan a few times a year, to try out new ways to connect with your customers and continually improve your sales.
If you need a hand working out a plan on how to improve your sales to grow your business, please get in touch with us today at