Monthly Archives: December 2012

Let’s focus on Growth

Sigmoid curve

I don’t know about you but I find all this talk of austerity quite depressing, especially during the Christmas season and when looking forward to next year. I’m not advocating getting into debt by ‘spending your way’ out of any stagnation in sales, what I am suggesting is that if things are not working as they should be we need to look for other ways of growing the business. This is where the Sigmoid curve diagram as shown above can help us to see change as a positive choice that can lead to a better future with renewed growth in sales. The simple premise is that if we continue to do the same things that were successful in the past but we are now entering a maturity phase, due to internal or external factors, then it’s time to think again before we hit the downward curve to decline.

A recent article in The Economist entitled ‘Gold hunting in a frugal age’ highlighted 4 potential options for businesses to prosper when their customers are feeling the pinch: firstly to look at emerging markets, secondly to adjust corporate policies to the situation of stagnant wages and growing inequality by targeting frugal products to low income markets, thirdly to provide poor people with innovative services, and lastly to harness the power of new technology. However, these 4 options may not to be the easiest route to find growth as there are likely to be unmet needs within your current customer base which could be a more profitable opportunity to consider before investing in a totally new strategy.

Whatever path you choose to help grow your sales and business our experience is that it’s best to maintain an attitude of looking for growth rather than opting for austerity and hoping that things will change. All the best for 2013!

It’s not the ‘close’ but the follow-up that counts

In most sales training courses the close or closing question that ‘asks for the order’ is viewed as the most critical component. It can’t be denied that actually asking a question or suggesting an action to buy a product or service can help a customer who is not sure what to do next. I believe that this ‘question or suggestion’ is an important step if it is done at the appropriate time (after finding out whether the customer actually needs the product or service!). However, traditional sales training often elevates the close to such an extent that the salesperson can become tense or even aggressive at this ‘make or break moment’ with the customer in order to gain the sale. We all know how it feels to be pushed too hard and we will often push back with a No! or reluctantly give in but vow never to return to the seller again.

We have re-examined the sales process from the customer’s perspective and in our workshops and coaching we take some of the focus and anxiety/aggression away from the ‘close’ and provide a bigger picture view of the buying and selling experience by adding in what happens after the sale. The follow-up part of the sales process does not usually figure in sales training as it could be viewed as part of customer service but I believe that this misses the point. Having contact with the customer after they have bought a product or service will help a salesperson to understand  what the customer has gained from their purchase, what works well and what can be improved. This follow-up step which comes after the close may be less interesting to those agressive salespeople, who are often described as ‘hunters’, but if they did take the time to follow-up on their sales they would actually find that the next sale to this or another customer would be so much easier, but then maybe they just like the game of pushing hard and winning!