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How Sales Directors Succeed in a Tough Economy

(Source: Flickr)

Let’s face it, in a tough economy every director finds it difficult to succeed. For Sales Directors though, it’s particularly painful. If fewer customers than before are purchasing a company’s products or services after all, the buck lies with Sales. So, how can you ensure that sales effectiveness means business continues to tick along nicely – even when consumer spending power is vastly reduced?

1.Align sales strategy and growth objectives

What we mean by aligning your sales strategy with growth objectives is for you to check that it’s actually possible for your sales strategy to meet the current ambitious goals you’ve set yourself. It may, for instance, be an idea to reduce your growth target at this time (for many a CEO the most difficult challenge in a recession is simply for their company to stay afloat). But you still want to grow, of course, so ensure your strategy focuses on where that potential growth is. Is it, for instance, by potentially penetrating a new segment of the youth market? Or could it be by zoning in on where a competitor is obviously failing? Then again, has new legislation in your sector made it easier to promote particular products, and as a result ensuring sales effectiveness?

2. Get the structure to support sales goals

It’s all very well having these great plans for success, but if you can’t back up your strategy with the right tools, equipment and people then it’s going to show those weaknesses within a matter of weeks. So, in order to succeed, it might mean having the manpower in particular geographic or market locations. If you’re targeting a youth segment, for instance, does your company have the IT know-how to reach them? If your new potential customer base doesn’t have a clue about your product or service, they certainly can’t buy – and benefit – from it. And neither, for that matter, will your company (benefit).

3. Have the right people in place

Are your employees in the right roles – both for them and your company? If you’re targeting a youth segment, for instance, then it’s not a bad idea to get someone of that age on the team. They should have a better understanding of how your customer base thinks, for starters. It’s crucial to ensure that the skill sets of your employees match what you require, not only in order to get your strategy implemented successfully, but also to maintain team morale and ensure sales effectiveness. Just like with getting the sales strategy right, finding the best employees for the job can also prove to be a CEO’s most difficult challenge.

4. Make sure you target the right markets

Once those target market/s have been identified it’s easier to know the type of resources you’ll need in order to reach that group of customers. You’ll also be able to fashion your message more appropriately, as well as learn the best way to promote your goods or services, in addition to pricing them suitably and distributing them in the best way possible for them to literally hit home – and lead to more sales.

5. Utilise technology in the best way possible

Social media is free to use (if you’re not paying for click advertising) so make use of that cost-free resource. Find out which social media channels your target audience is more likely to be found on and use it to reach them. Provide educational posts for your sector, humour and, every now and again, promote your product or service. It’s all about getting your target audience to recognise, appreciate and trust your brand/company. They’ll then like your products or service as an extension of that ‘good will.’

CRM software is another invaluable piece of IT when it comes to sales effectiveness because it allows a company to enhance its relationship with the customer. It does this by keeping a record of all interactions he or she has with the company. That means tracking orders and getting to understand a customer’s preferences and what future products or services may appeal to them based on past purchases etc. It also helps you provide a more efficient and effective service by being able to immediately let the customer know the status of their order. CRM systems can also indicate how particular sales staff or products/services are performing at an early enough stage for you to do something about it.

6. Invest in the correct software

The main point of CRM software is that it provides data (which is the newest form of currency). It is companies which have found ways to “collect, interpret and act upon customer data that are winning,” according to a survey by 3rd-party research firm, SPOTIO, conducted last year. It based the results on responses from 492 American sales professionals in both inside and field sales roles. Despite the importance of keeping up-to-date with both hardware and software, only 52% of outside field sales personnel felt that they were equipped with the right equipment.

At the same time, a “State of Sales” report from Insidesales.com, found that companies on average invested just over £4000 on software per sales rep. It’s a 22% increase over four years, leading the report’s authors to conclude that “organizational heads are recognizing the importance of investing in software as they see the direct correlation between modern tools and sales rep success.”

For expert guidance on ensuring sales effectiveness i.e. that your sales strategy leads to increased revenue, then take a look at sales coaching by Winprograms today.

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