Today’s post is by Mark Allen Roberts: an author, coach, sales trainer, and strategic business development strategist. His No Smoke and Mirrors approach to profitably growing sales has helped companies experience profitable sales growth over the past 30 years.
If you could only do one thing to improve your sales revenue and profits, what would it be? In this post I will share how capturing and leveraging the current voice of your customers is that “one thing.”
When your team understands your customers – how they buy and what they need to buy today – you will experience the following:
- Increased sales
- Increased profits
- Increased market share
- Improved sales close rate percentages
- (Oh, and much better board meetings!)
Why do most sales plans fail? The most common reason I have experienced is a dated value proposition. What worked years ago is not working now due to some change or shift.
As the authors of the book The One Thing share, we achieve more when we go small. Each of us can make a long laundry list of things we could do, but that dilutes focus.
The most powerful thing sales leaders can do is equip sales teams with a repeatable sales process, sales training, and sales tools to hit their numbers based on how buyers buy today.
- What do you need to know?
- Why do customers buy from you today?
- Why don’t customers buy from you today?
- What is your buyer’s buying process today?
- What buying criteria must your buyers have today?
Emphasis is placed on the word “today.” Many of the teams I have served have been in business 10-20-80+ years.
We serve dynamic markets that are always shifting and we need to adjust to those shifts or realize stalled or declining sales. How do we capture current customer voice and market truth?
- Meet with your top 12-15 accounts.
- Meet with three accounts you recently tried to sell but did not win. (I have found some of the best actionable data comes from people you did not sell.)
- Meet with two or three accounts that were once in your top 12 accounts but, today, their sales are down more than 40 percent.
- Meet with three prospective accounts that match your ideal customer profile.
- Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a yes or no answer.
- Your questions should start very broad, then become more specific.
- Add at least two questions that demonstrate your knowledge of your customers’ business and industry.
- Use active listening. You are listening to learn, not reply.
- Take notes. Once all interviews are completed, look for trends.
- Expectations…understand you are doing this exercise to better serve your markets and buyers and win more business. You are not looking for a “throat to choke” or blame any person or department.
It can’t be that simple (I hear some of you saying).
Yep, it is…
What are some questions I have found produce good feedback?
- If you were the president of our company, what would you have us do to win a larger percentage of your purchases?
- What do our competitors do very well? How important is that to you?
- Is there anything we are doing now you wish we would quit doing?
- Have you experienced any changes in the past 6-12 months that have changed how you make buying decisions?
- When you search for products or services, where do you look?
I still feel some doubters out there. Below are some companies I have helped leverage the voice of their customers and the results they experienced:
- A plastics company that made mechanical security devices grew more than $38 million in 18 months.
- An adaptive automotive vehicle manufacturer realized a $50 million sales increase over six years and realized a 6 percent increase in gross profits.
I hope I have convinced you there is a power in understanding your buyers today.
In today’s competitive markets you must
- Understand the current voice of your customers and markets.
- Develop a repeatable sales process that mirrors how your buyers buy today.
- Create sales tools that proactively provide answers to the criteria buyers must have to buy today.
Understanding your customers today is that powerful “one thing” that will position your team for profitable future success.