Dealing with slow periods

How To Increase Sales During Slow Periods

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Change management: a vital lesson in how to increase sales 

Much of the shift in business practice is determined by changes in consumer behaviour, sometimes in combination with a slowing economy; customers want more for less, they shop around, they shop online and they shop smarter. The willingness to forego traditional retail models has profoundly affected bricks and mortar business. The survivors are those who have adapted to changing consumer patterns and acted accordingly to boost sales.

There are number of ways of understanding why sales figures are stalling. For Trent Leyshan, the founder of sales training company, BOOM! Sales and author of Outlaw and The Naked Salesman, those who fail to engage customers in the right way will have fundamental challenges with their customer engagement process and conversion rates. 

“If you don’t apply a tested method to measure your sales process you will not understand why your customers are dropping out and at what stage. Commonly a process is broken into a number of critical stages or logical steps. When you understand the capabilities that activate and move each step of the process correctly, you can then tailor your approach and activate relevant training and development to enhance each phase. A heightened focus is often put on the final phase, or gain agreement step of the sales process. However, if the sales process is not developed with the correct insights and crunched with the right data, this phase commonly becomes the drop off point. Largely because the sales people don’t know how to move through this phase without coming across as pushy, nor do they have a deep enough discovery that allows them to fight through objections with empathy, clarity and confidence.”

Leyshan says that these basic failures lead to salespeople giving up the process after one objection. In addition, not knowing how to work to a tested and measured follow-up process that generates conversions and subsequent uplift in performance, inevitably leads to slump periods.

“There are two common frustrations; one from the customer side, the other from the salesperson’s perception. Customers feel that when they deal with business it feels transactional and that they are merely a number, where’s the service! On the other hand the business or salesperson has to deal with more demanding, more informed, price driven and less loyal customers.

So, in this climate, how is it possible to boost sales?

“Salespeople need to do more of what works (master the fundamentals such as marketing and promotion) and work harder to better understand their customers. Their fearless leaders should invest more in quality, tailored training to better handle objections, empathise with the consumer and approach the customer with a genuine passion and belief and knowledge of what they are selling.”

Modern day selling requires salespeople to be more in tune with their clients than ever before. Having this skill will better facilitate the negotiation and buy-in process. You will find that you will be able to convert the sale, avoid discounting (which Leyshan says is lazy selling and a last resort) and try hard to add more value through promotion of products.

Today’s sales techniques require greater rapport with the client than ever before. This change in consumer behaviour is a result of people knowing more about what they want.

Aaron Sansoni is one of Australia’s leading sales experts, an entrepreneur and author. He refers to this change as the ‘ebay revolution’, which he feels has placed consumers at the heart of new sales practices. Aaron believes that we have transcended the traditional sales model (sales 1.0) and are now working to sales model 3.0. Those who haven’t come along for the ride are in downturn.

“This is based on the concept that to be a successful seller or run a successful business in the 21st century, the old ways (Sales 1.0 and 2.0) no longer work,” Sansoni says.  “Sales 1.0 was based on selling the features and benefits of a product or service and it was heavily used from the 1940s to the late 1990s. We evolved then to Sales 2.0, which incorporated elements of its predecessor, Sales 1.0, but with the addition of what we call ‘solution selling’ or ‘consultative selling’. Now we’re further down the track and we are in an age where we need to use the fundamentals of Sales 1.0 and 2.0 but within the context of, and with the evolved mindset, skills and principles of what I call Sales 3.0.”

Understanding why sales are declining

Sansoni believes that six key elements exist within the 3.0 model that will inform why sales are stalling or declining and how to turn your sales around. These six elements include:

  • Authority
  • Value perception vs. cost
  • Discipline to the sales process
  • Trust
  • Absence of linear
  • Passion

While full analysis of these six points requires its own article, let’s have a quick look at the first two. In the information age, there is information overload. If you can disseminate that knowledge and help people to make an informed decision they will see you as a trusted source and will seek your expertise again. This will undoubtedly boost sales.

Point two speaks to cost perception. Sansoni says, “Many times I see sales professionals and businesses as a whole with an offering that is rarely of high value perception compared to the price they are asking. Let me ask you, if I wanted to sell you $1,000 for $100 would you take it? No brainer right – and that’s what people need to master in their offer. You will forever have sales success if the person or business you are selling to believe whole-heartedly that they are getting far more value than you’re asking them to part with. This is an imperative when looking at how to increase sales.

Businesses that have experienced slump periods need to revise their business model, the way they approach their product, their custom and create a product and service that meets their customers’ needs. By doing this they can avoid slowdowns in the economy.