Our Sales Director's Tips For Smooth [Whole]Sailing

Wholesale and B2B sales training

If you are in the Wholesale and Business-to-Business (B2B) space, things may be winding down a bit for you.

Of course, you still have to keep an ear on the ground and ensure your customers are all stocked up for the Christmas madness. Other than that, your job is done, right? You can just put your feet up and relax...

Well, not so fast. What about next year? What’s your sales pipeline looking like?

I’m sure you guessed where I’m going with this… that’s right, it’s time to plan your next moves.

So we decided to call in the army, well more like our Gladiator in this instance, to share a few pearls of wisdom. Here are a few words and tips from our Sales Director, Ben Sleeman:

"It's no secret that to win in sales you need to be tenacious and determined with resilience to handle the knockbacks that inevitably come. But having these characteristics is only part of what makes a great salesperson. The other parts in my mind that are just as important, are process and planning.

Coming into what is the busiest part of the year in Retail for the frontline team, can be a great time to look at and review what your process and plan look like for 2020. If you don't have a plan, now is a great time to start.

All plans need to have an objective or end game, so whatever your objectives, goals or KPI's are, write them down. Looking at your objectives for the year ahead can be daunting, so it’s best if you break them down into achievable tasks. These could be how many meetings need to be had in order to present your product or how many new business calls you to need to make to get a meeting. I have always found it easier to break my annual objective down into quarters, these into monthly targets and then plan my weeks so that the annual objective or KPI's are more achievable, less daunting.

It sounds pretty basic, but it’s where most salespeople come undone. As the saying goes:

"failing to plan is planning to fail".

Once you have your plan in place and understand what your weekly tasks look like, you need to reflect on what activities are going to support you to achieve these and what common things can move you away from your core tasks or plan.

As salespeople, generally speaking, we like to help and often will commit to tasks that can take us away from the core focus of our role: sales. This could be overcommitting time to a task that could be delegated or overcommitting time to a customer or prospect that’s not going to give us the return. We’ve all done this, I certainly have and then wondered why I have no time to get through the task I set that week.

Prioritising as part of working your plan is really important. You may have heard of the 80/20 rule, The Pareto principle (also known as the law of the vital few or the principle of factor sparsity). It states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In essence, what this means for salespeople is that often 80% of our results come from the top 20% of our customers, so spending time wisely is a smart thing to do, right?  

In most cases this is correct but it is not 100% effective. You need to use your gut and make sure to qualify all customers and prospects so you don't miss an opportunity. A good way to do this is to work out who the top 20% of your customer base or leads are. This is where you should spend most of your time. To that purpose, first you’ll need to figure out which criteria to use to decide what qualifies a good customer or lead. The top 20% will be your A type customers and leads. Then work back through the remaining 80% of your list and categorize them into your B's and C's, where C’s are the least profitable.

Breaking your list down into these 3 categories will give you visibility and clarity to plan where you should spend most of your time to be most effective.

In summary

Being tenacious, determined and resistant are certainly important traits of a great salesperson. And so is having a solid process and plan in place. But it’s not something that happens overnight. It’s a continuous process of trial and error until you find what works for you.

Here at RedSeed, we understand that as a salesperson you need to constantly learn and develop new skills. That is a critical factor in being successful in your role. Our experience tells us that working in Wholesale and B2B is a different ball game and to be the best you need to develop a different skillset. For this reason, we’ve created a specific sales training program for salespeople working in the Wholesale and B2B space.

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