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Sales Gameplan

Is Exceeding a Sales Target Enough?

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Supplying Sales Force Automation solutions provides a fabulous insight into customers, processes and - most importantly - sales people.

Picture this: Your top sales person has won your Sales award for the last four years running, they are always over budget. Wow, what a super achiever. If only we had a team of these guys.

Here is the other side of the coin. When we dug into this sales person’s performance and monitored their daily activity what we found was both good and bad. This sales person was a great relationship builder and the customers loved him, which was great. BUT he was exceeding his target easily with just a few key clients, there was no new business development being done and in fact he was finishing just after 1pm most days.

The first issue was the sales target, which was well out of date and hadn’t been reviewed or measured properly in years. The second issue was lack of management, understanding and measurement of what this sales person was doing every day.

A simple call wrap on our Sales Force Automation allows you a real time picture of how many calls your rep is making per day and how well they are doing in each call.

The really good news is that he is still a great sales person. But his territory was split in two, a new sales person added to the team and the company has now doubled revenue in his old territory.

How well are you managing your sales team and are you getting the most from your sales territories?

Can we make your "C" Customers profitable?

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Driving your online business to business eCommerce into different customer groups can be incredibly profitable. But understanding how and why we are targeting these customers’ needs some thought and will provide a fascinating insight into your customers and your sales team.

We normally find our clients divide their customers into three groups, A, B and C. The A customers provide typically 80% of the revenue, and take most of the sales people time and resources to service. Our B customers are those which we are desperately trying to grow into A’s and is where we hope the new wave of growth will come from but are they really getting enough of our sales people time? The C customers are those who are difficult to deal with, maybe are in remote locations, simply don’t spend enough or are just too costly to service with a sales person.

Sometimes the quickest and easiest revenue growth can come from enabling our C customers with online eCommerce. A “getting started” campaign of letters with Statements, a mail out, follow up email and a simple user guide is a great way to get these customers online. We can greatly reduce the cost of dealing with these small customers, they can review your catalogue online, find the right articles to order, and check previous orders and invoices and better still their orders are loaded into your system to reduce re-keying.

Support them with the customer services team and suddenly we have a whole new sales channel open for business with a greatly reduced cost of sale.

Will my customers buy into online commerce?

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I am often asked as I visit people: Will my customers buy online? Just to clarify here, I’m talking about B2B eCommerce today. That is, trading via the web with your existing customers, people who have an account in your financial system.

One thing to ponder, if you asked a customer if they would order online they might say yes and they might say no. If you asked them, “Would you use our online commerce if we could share our entire product catalogue with you, up to date pricing and stock levels – and by the way you could check the status of previous orders while you are there” the answer is normally a resounding YES!

Turning on eCommerce is one thing, you also need to consider why and how your customers will use it. Maybe they are retailers open in the evening or during the weekend who can’t call you to check stock or pricing. Maybe some of your customers are too small to see a rep regularly, who can they now trade with you via the web (driving down your cost of sales). What about being easy to deal with? How many times have you visited customer, seen a competitor’s product on the shelf and asked “Why aren’t you buying that product from us?” only to hear them tell you they didn’t know you stocked those.

Remember eCommerce is now mainstream. All types of people in organisations are now web savvy (thanks in many ways to Trademe) and eCommerce is well accepted. I have one customer who charges their customers a monthly fee to use his eCommerce website, that’s how much value he can deliver online.

Would you like fries with that Sir?

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Upselling online is no different to upselling over the counter or via your sales rep or monthly specials. We want your customers to order what they need but we always want to tempt them to upsize their order.

Over the years our research and experience has shown three quite different types of promotions work well. New products, your customers are normally on the lookout for what’s new, something they can use themselves to gain a competitive advantage, thus our new products area on the eCommerce and Sales Force Automation solutions.

But what about those customers at the other end of the spectrum, the ones happy to purchase last month’s model, out dated or damaged stock. They know they can still make a margin on it and the reduced sale price is attractive. Here is a thought – you should never again have to write off stock if you use the End of Lines area of your eCommerce site. Just how much stock do you write off each year?

In the middle of the New products and End of Line offers are your monthly specials. I am guessing historically you sent out a monthly fax/flier/email with your specials which works well but it is a one shoe fits all approach. Taking your specials online allows you to promote these items but also make the specials customer specific, further enhancing the upsell.

A final thought. I was having this conversation with an automotive parts supplier and he questioned the benefits of promoting items online. A 1969 Hillman Hunter Carburettor, it doesn’t matter how cheap I make it, you either need one or you don’t! Very true, but promoting new tools worked wonderfully.

Bridging the information gap

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A bike retailer told me about a good weekend he’d had. On Friday he sold the $10k bike in the window to a guy who wanted to come back and pick it up on Monday. On Saturday someone else wanted to buy the same bike. Because his bike supplier had a good eCommerce system, the retailer was able to confirm that the same bike was in stock, and could be delivered on Monday. So he let Saturday’s customer walk out of the store with the bike.

The bike supplier was a B2B business, and it is B2B businesses that really need eCommerce. Distributors in particular have massive catalogues and no store fronts to sell their products from. This also means that many of their customers are retailers. One reason this is important is that the operating hours of these two types of business are different: retailers sell over the weekend.

I have to wonder how many sales aren’t closed because of the information gap between retailers and their suppliers.

The 7 ways automating your sales team takes cost out of your processes and increases sales volume

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Sales force automation is about getting the right information into the right people’s hands at the right time. When that happens your sales force can sell more products, more easily. Here are my favourite reasons why:

  1. Putting the right online tools into the hands of your sales teams saves calls to the office, written orders, faxed orders and return to base trips. If your team completes 8 calls a day that’s approximately an hour a call. If we save them 10 minutes a call, that’s 80 minutes a day. With a spare 80 minutes can they squeeze in one more sales call per day? That’s a one call a day, five a week, twenty a month – you work the numbers for the team.
  2. An informed salesforce is a productive salesforce. You shouldn’t need to be paying support staff to be sending pricing, stock outs, credit holds and stock information to your road warriors.
  3. Always be selling. Giving your sales staff the information they need to answer any customer query means they can increase their order to visit ratio. Same number of calls but more orders has to be good.
  4. Up-selling and cross-selling. Most of you carry either higher value versions of the same product, complementary products, or both. Carrying all of those connections and opportunities in your head can be a real nightmare. By making them available automatically you’ll ensure you don’t miss any.
  5. Avoid re-keying and double handling. A properly implemented sales force automation package delivers the orders into your financial systems instantaneously. This means each order can be handled just once, with the data going from sale to dispatch to recording.
  6. Improved closure rate. We’ve all seen the young keen guy who is racing from sales call to sales call. He is wearing the shoe leather thin, but is he closing? Automating your team gives you the visibility you need, and him the tools to take orders on the spot.
  7. Lastly, wouldn’t you love to know in real time how many calls your people are doing, how long the calls are taking, and whether they get an order? No more poring over week or month old sales reports, that’s what Sales Automation can do for your business.

Should I discount to get them online?

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Many years ago we helped a client run a promotion to drive customers to purchase online. The Big Offer — if you purchase online you go in the draw to win a trip for four to Disneyland (it was a $10,000 prize).

Much to our client’s disappointment we saw only a small increase in online orders. When we went back to the customers and asked why they didn’t enter the draw the response was simple: If I win, the boss will take the prize.

So we reversed the theory and went with every order place on line receives a can of Coke. No one is going to take a half dozen cans of Coke off an employee at the end of the month. It was a hugely successful promotion. We see this done with chocolate bars and all kinds of things.

As for discounting online, your goal is to change a behaviour. Rather than ringing or faxing an order we want the customer to order online. So the danger is that if you offer a discount that becomes part of the new behaviour and expectation. Once the customer is online it’s very hard to get that margin back. That’s why I favour promotions.

In saying that, a good customer of ours, Harish has run a short term discount for ordering online and it has had a huge impact on ordering — an increase of tens of thousands of dollars a month through the website.