We spent five minutes with Matt and asked him some questions about managing sales and profitability.
How do you motivate your sales team to sell during challenging market conditions?
Motivation is an inside job. It’s far too convenient to blame external reasons for below-par results, so first and foremost you must get your recruitment right – hire for attitude. ‘A Players’ will always deliver, so focus your efforts on shifting the B’s to A’s and look to move any C’s who resist, out.
Give your salespeople the tools to do the job; train and coach them regularly so they improve their skills and measure performance and adjust constantly. Motivation is a top-down created environment which delivers bottom-up performance.
How can you put your prices up and keep your customers?
The question is, can you afford not to? If you’re asking yourself that as a matter of business survival, then I would argue it’s too late. In almost every situation the market decides the price, so check to see if you’re in-line; if you are then look at whether you can trim costs or improve efficiency to increase your profit first.
Communication and justification are key. Talk to your customers and explain why you need a price increase. Avoid wholesale adjustments, opt to increase prices on specific products or services where needed and always do so by agreement.
What can you do to avoid competing with others on price?
Don’t. Contrary to what most think, buyers position quality and service ahead of price when making a purchasing decision. It’s their reputation that’s on the line if the product they buy fails to arrive on time or doesn’t hit the performance criteria required, and both are at risk if price is the primary driver.
During your initial conversations, establish the basics; ask potential buyers what their buying criteria are in order of importance and demonstrate the return on investment that your product or service delivers them.
How do you protect your reputation and enhance it?
Do what you said you would. Reputation is built on a number of things, but past achievement is a key one. All things being equal, people do business with those they trust most and if you consistently deliver on your word, you’ll earn their trust.
When people trust you to do what you say you will, they’ll enhance their own reputation by sharing you with others in their network and that in-turn will enhance yours.
How do you grow sales?
Organically first. Too often, people overlook the ‘know, like and trust’ that already exists in their customer list and spend vast sums on trying to find new customers. It is much easier and more cost effective to look internally at helping those who’ve already bought from you, to buy more.
If the opportunity isn’t there to up or cross-sell, get approval to create case-studies that can be used to promote the results you’ve achieved together. Learn how to ask for introductions to their customers and suppliers and your sales conversations and sales will grow this year.