Andre reads a book about sales

What is the most important thing in sales?

I’ve wanted to tackle this sales question for ages. So far, I have always lacked the right perspective or “my” answer. But now I have found it. And no, it’s not 10 points of anything…

The most important thing in sales is the continuous implementation of a predetermined sales process in order to be able to learn systematically from the results. This results in the potential for improvement, which over time enables the company to acquire the right customers in an increasingly targeted manner.

The task of sales

In many cases, the line between marketing, sales, and selling is blurred. I even dedicated a separate article to this topic. Under “How are marketing and sales related?” I am looking for the demarcation line of the areas of responsibility, especially for small companies. So I’ll just go into that briefly.

The operational task of marketing and, thus, also branding is to make the company and its services known and to look for potential buyers in the market.

The sales function fulfills this interest. Here and now, I am only looking at systematic sales activity. (In real life, there is also the “logistical component of distribution”, closely related to sales.) It is therefore the job of salespeople to turn prospective customers into customers.

For me, selling is the concrete situation in which the salesperson (or the technical substitute, e.g. the website) and the customer come together. So, it is the moment when a single prospect becomes a customer.

Please, also feel reminded of the marketing funnel or sales funnel here. In real life, by the way, it doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s a model that you need to adapt to your situation in order to help you do your job better.

Marketing funnel
Marketing funnel

The most important thing for a company

When we look at the role of a company in our society, we can see that every company has a purpose. And no, it is not profit for the owner! No customer comes by and gives a company money, so that return on equity is where it should be. On the contrary, the customer is not at all interested in whether the company is making a profit.

Businesses exist to provide a valuable service to customers.

Andre Jacobi

No value for the customer, no survival. (Of course, the substance must first be used up before bankruptcy occurs.) If we pursue this thought further, then the following necessities arise for companies:

  1. You must constantly adapt to changing customer requirements and market conditions.
  2. There is no “always 100% guaranteed working path to success”, but only “currently effective activities” (which may be superfluous again tomorrow).
  3. When customer requirements, the range of services, and the market change, sales must also change.

Sales as a standardized process

For me, the most sensible approach based on the task at hand is to tackle sales systematically. In my mind, that actually means creating a system.

For each target group, a process should be found with which I can turn prospective customers into real customers. Generally speaking, this always includes “similar stations” (not necessarily in the same order).

Core structure of a basic sales process
Core structure of a basic sales process

This standard, which can be found individually in every company, is the basis for successful sales. From my own experience, I know that a diligent salesperson with slightly below-average selling talent is more successful in the long term than a lazy salesperson who has above-average selling abilities. I know this because, at the beginning of my professional life, I belonged in the second category…

The role of metrics in sales

With a standardized process, you can do things that otherwise would not work. You can measure what works and what doesn’t.

Key figures allow you to check your sales success and keep an eye on whether the level of performance achieved is being maintained. This is the basis for adjustmentd in the future. Unsystematic sales and distribution “at random” will not let you learn…

Adjustment of the sales process

Let’s assume for a second that you know the following things about your sales activity:

  • You have three levels: general interest, specific interest in buying, and customer.
  • On average, 20% of your general prospects have a specific purchase interest.
  • 40% of your prospective buyers usually also buy from you.

And now, one morning, you find that your quotas have changed in the last month. They have deteriorated noticeably. You would immediately start looking for causes. Was it a poor performance? Does the marketing channel still work? Is there new competition with a better offer? And so forth…

And now imagine that you had not determined these key figures.

You would be effectively flying blind. You wouldn’t even know if you would have to adjust your process or if there was a seasonal effect. Of course, you will have a “dull gut feeling”. But is that the right basis for sales success?

The most important thing in sales

For me, the most important thing in sales is the standardization of the process. Only when I have done this can I systematically determine key figures and check whether my operational actions are having the desired effect.

And only when I check this can I align my sales to what is happening in the market and adapt my company.

By the way, you can find more detailed reading on this in the article “How can I promote my small business?” Here, you can find out how you can create such a sales process in your company.

If you want to change the topic, I recommend, as always, choosing “Strategy” first. Our articles “Why is a business strategy important?” and “How to become a good strategist?” are rather short introductions.

Of course, we also have more “practical” topics like “10 things you can do as an entrepreneur when there is inflation” 😉.

Stay focused, lean, and keen, and remember, “There is more to life than work.”

Andre

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