[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the first of two parts taken from the “Sell Like Hell” seminar held Sept. 29, 2010 at the LCT Leadership Summit in Chicago. The second part will be published in the Feb/Mar. 2011 issue of LCT Magazine].
The key ingredient to bringing in more revenue is to dramatically improve your closing ratio. To close more, a salesperson or team must have:
• Exceptional training: A great team or sales person knows what the goals are to hit at every point. They know what they are selling inside and out. They know the market, their prospects; they are experts and armed with the right information.
• Optimum efficiency: A simple, organized sales process on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis so salespeople can move FAST in their daily lives.
• Know where to find hot prospects: A lead generation system that brings a steady stream of qualified leads is critical.
Goal setting is an important exercise. Without them, we would just drift along. Goal setting allows us to be proactive instead of just being reactive. We’ve all had days where we just seem to leap from one crisis to another, but we know that it’s not a preferred mode of operation.
Whether you have a sales team, or if you’re that one person in your operation, you need to do the following:
• Set your revenue goal: Look at your total company as it is right now, including gross sales, revenue, and your net profit percentage. You need to know your top line AND your bottom line when setting sales goals so you know your wiggle room for pricing averages. If you have high volume and low profits, you are not balancing out your sales efforts. You may find you need more boutique accounts that pay on rate card to bring up your averages, or you may find you have too many boutique companies and need a better mix of affiliate work and/or national accounts.
Decide your net profitability increase for next year, presuming you will not increase your bottom line through cost cutting but only through increased sales. And be realistic. Try setting goals based on your current fleet size and your current salesperson head count. Goals need to be specific if you are going to have any chance for success.
• Break out goals by weeks, months, and quarters: Too often we sit down and map out this great sales game plan and then we don’t manage it. Goals need to be regularly revisited. Life is all too distracting and we forget or go off on tangents.
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“By year-end, I plan to increase sales by XX%” — that is your goal.
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“I intend to do this by up-selling my top 10 accounts by XX% and increasing my client retention factor by XX%, and also my company will add XX more clients before this time next year.”
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“My top 10 up-selling strategy is. . . and my client retention strategy is. . . and I will close XX new clients by doing following strategy.”
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Without a goal setting strategy, or series of actions, whether or not you achieve the goal you have set is just a matter of blind chance. And blind chance is no way to run a successful business!
Plan of action
To succeed, you need to make things happen, not just let things happen.
Have an action plan. Have a goal setting strategy for your team or yourself. Sales are still a numbers game. Client turnover and budget downshifting is a natural part of business. Most salespeople like to build a client base and coast from there. Do not ever let them stop prospecting; two hours per day, every day.
Discipline is the lost ingredient to sales success.
Recruiting new clients usually costs a pretty penny, so make sure that you include upselling and cross selling to current customers as a major part of your sales discipline.
Unfortunately, many salespeople avoid these techniques because they are afraid that suggesting additional services could scare off customers. It’s up to you to be sure that your salespeople are clear and comfortable with talking about what you’ve added to the menu. Give them an incentive to upsell if you need to get them over the fear of selling something new: But the key here is to make sure they understand and have buy-in on your programs so they sell with confidence.
Now, here’s the pledge I want you and/or your team to make about upselling:
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“I will contact at least  existing clients per day to talk about add-on services. I will close at least one existing client per week on a [10%] increase in service spend. I will stay relevant.”
Goal + action = success
What happens when you go beyond the basic step of goal setting? Evaluating your success or failure is easy because your goal is specific rather than general. And suddenly, instead of just having a goal that you may or may not achieve, depending on chance, you have a specific battle plan to follow to achieve the goal you’ve set. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, you’ve set yourself up for success.
How do you make sure you stay on course? Rally your family behind you. Tell them your sales goal and keep them posted. Tell your family how you will celebrate with them if you hit your sales goal. Set a personal net worth goal and write it on a spreadsheet, then review it monthly. Self-worth increases proportionately with net worth.
SIDEBAR: How To Cross-Sell
If you overload customers with too many unrelated cross-selling suggestions, you may blow it. Listen to them and ask them questions about travel needs, billing, concierge, meeting services, and so on.
• Post expert recommendations on your website. One way to facilitate cross-selling and up-selling success is to state specific recommendations from professionals, experts, or other customers. When you buy a book at Amazon.com, for example, the site automatically lists other books purchased by people who bought the same book you just ordered.
• Train employees in cross-selling techniques. The approach must be built around serving the customer, not just selling more stuff. For example, you might describe how the additional services would complement the original purchase and further solve the customer’s problem.
• Timing is important. Cross-selling and upselling can occur at different times. In some cases, the best time is while a customer is talking to your reservationist. Other items are more appropriately offered once the initial buying decision has been made, such as an extension to the designated trip.
• Leverage the cross-selling potential of your website. Position cross-sell and up-sell items throughout your site in places where they can help educate clients on the depth and variety of what your business offers. Try mixing and matching different items to see what works best.
• Offer a range of prices. If you suggest three items to complement your service, try to offer a mix of price points. The lowest cost items are most likely to be picked up as impulse buys. But other items that meet the customer’s needs also can be sold at higher levels.
• Try service bundles. Bundling has long been used as a way to entice clients to talk to you initially or to prompt the sale. But an upgraded service package, which offers a price break, will help close the sale.