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Creating A World-Class Sales Campaign - Articles Surfing


Recruiting a great sales team is essential to the success of any business, but great salespeople are not easy to find. You need sales leaders who are hungry enough to make 10 sales calls per week, diligent enough to write up detailed reports on each call, and mature enough to deliver on their promises. When you have to ask yourself, "Do I have the right sales person?," you don't. It's best to say goodbye and upgrade.

Vince Thompson, author of Ignited, wanted to make a change from television advertising sales to Internet sales when he left CBS. He quickly created a prospect list, sourced accounts, developed a team to support his efforts, and created rapport with the client services group. Every sales call with Vince was successful and fun, which is how sales works best. Here is his story.

As regional vice president for America Online Networks Sales and Solutions, Vince led teams responsible for selling millions of dollars per week in online media. Vince also built AOL's first sales training and leadership organization. "Figure out who your target customer is and go talk to them," he says. "Understand what their needs are, build a product to fit their needs, give them incredible service, be available to them, listen, and try to come up with a flexible approach that works and makes sense. The type of business will dictate the sales solution you need to put in place."

He advises entrepreneurs and sales professionals, "You should be able to tell your story in a couple of sentences. People should be able to understand quickly what you do, what it is you sell, and how it can benefit them. Customers listen to that. Tell a story about why you're in business, why you're doing what you're doing, how it solves problems for people. And practice telling that story so it becomes something that you're good at telling."

What is your unique selling proposition, the thing business schools call a USP? Maybe you're the market leader in innovation -- if you are, you can command any kind of price; or maybe you sell for less; or maybe you're solving somebody's unique problem. Your USP should set your business apart. You can differentiate on all kinds of levels -- sometimes it's on service. These days, you must make sure that your USP is tailored to each individual customer. So follow through, do your research, and understand your customer's needs. Success comes when you bring solutions that can help customers accomplish their goals.

After you have the pitch down, build revenue through constant activity. Stay up to date with the news, read press releases, go to networking events, and learn about the market and its players. Vince also suggests "discovery meetings" that may occur before the pitch. "I try to understand their business problem, what they're trying solve, where they're spending money -- do they need new sales, need to reposition their brand, need to prop their company up for a sale? Then I come up with a solution that does the most for them, if they're willing to buy. This is called a needs assessment. Have a list of questions and try to answer most of them before the meeting, so the valuable meeting time will focus on the things that matter most. Follow up with a sales proposal. The prospect may need to build consensus and work with other people prior to buying, so you write to that." Vince helps companies sell the proposal internally, understanding there may be a number of decision makers.

When building a sales organization, "You can't manage the market or market conditions -- but you can manage behaviors and set expectations," Vince advises sales managers. "If you have a history with the sales organization, you can begin to take numbers and figure out baselines -- knowing the sales per quarter, the close ratio, the number of calls you have to make. You can use a sales management tool like Salesforce or Upshot. You can analyze the hell out of it, but what matters is that you're focusing on the right things."

"To develop the best practices for your industry, make a spreadsheet. In each column, put a problem -- like 'I need customers,' 'Getting referrals,' 'Making presentations,' 'Following through' -- all the things you're thinking about. Then go out and interview the people in the industry. Maybe they aren't direct competitors, but people who have similar types of businesses. Ask them, 'What is the best way you have found to get to customers?' Then build your own best practices document, based on people you respect. Keep on filling in all the best practices you hear. When you're done, you're going to have a roadmap of the best practices and best ideas."

One of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make is not making their sales numbers because they fall in love with their product or service and stop living by the spreadsheet. So make sure your sales goals are on your desktop and refer back to them every two or three days. It doesn't matter if you are a nonprofit, a for-profit, or a venture-backed company. Strong and creative sales forecasting, great sales teams, good knowledge about what the client needs and wants, and a strong product or service are all critical.

One of the most effective aspects of a sales strategy is to build a community of customers and share knowledge with them. ThirdAge was at the nexus of two trends, the wired boomer/senior and the mature consumer, so our customers appreciated sharing information with each other. Bring your customers together for annual events. Private client meetings can also be extremely effective. These events help build and reinforce your brand. And if they are insightful and fun, the sponsors will return.

Copyright © 2007 Dr. Mary S. Furlong from the book Turning Silver Into Gold Published by FT Press; February 2007;$24.99US/$29.99CAN; 978-0-13-185698-1

Submitted by:

Dr. Mary S. Furlong

Dr. Mary S. Furlong is the leading authority on the baby boomer generation as it moves beyond 50. She founded Mary Furlong & Associates to help socially and consumer-conscious companies reach this growing market. She is also Executive Professor of Entrepreneurship and Women in Leadership at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business.

Dr. Furlong has appeared on CBS, NBC's Today Show, PBS, and NPR to discuss trends in aging and technology. She was named one of the top 50 business leaders by Time Digital, and has also been honored by Fortune Small Business Magazine. Her books include Grown-Up's Guide to Computing.

For more information visit www.maryfurlong.com



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