Sales success 2024

How to (also) write lucrative orders in the new year

Some people start the new year with a lot of confidence, while others are more worried. “Will I get enough orders next year?”, “Will I be able to push through my calculated prices?” or “What will I do if my best customer drops out?” are questions that make many people anxious. Others just hope that things will work out.

Hope never hurts! However, relying on this alone would be bad advice. Instead, you should take action and contribute to the success of 2024 yourself. Go through the following five questions to set the course for a good new (sales) year now.

How do I get more qualified inquiries?

There are many ways to do this. Interestingly, sales employees often deal exclusively with incoming inquiries from their regular clients. Well, every now and then a potential customer will (hopefully) get in touch of their own accord. But many salespeople tend to be rather passive – and simply process incoming inquiries. In this passive role, there is a high risk that you will rarely make contact with companies that may be a better fit for you, require higher quantities or are less price-sensitive overall.

It is best to start different ways of generating sales inquiries at the same time: call potential customers more actively, place advertisements and try out other options to generate more inquiries. After around six months, draw an initial conclusion: Which acquisition methods were lucrative? Which ones less so? You can then focus on what works best for you – and finally get in touch with new customers from whom you would otherwise never receive sales inquiries.

How do I create pressure to act?

The primary task of salespeople is not to prepare quotations. Quotations are nothing more than a “crutch” to an order. The job of salespeople is to write orders. Nevertheless, there are some business partners who like to impose work on sales staff free of charge and ask them to submit quotations – but never buy. This often causes frustration among salespeople. Interestingly, there are even salespeople who take a lot of time to prepare a detailed quotation – knowing full well that they will never receive an order. But can this be right? Anyone who writes quotations without selling has worked in vain.

This is why salespeople should take much more time to determine requirements – to be able to decide not to provide a quotation at all if necessary. Answers to questions such as “Why are you interested now?” or “What if you can not find a solution?” are good indicators of the likelihood of a purchase. Anyone who writes quotations and does not believe that they can generate an order from them is doing something fundamentally wrong in sales!

How do I make myself more interesting for the market?

Your best customers are your competitors’ target customers. Or to put it another way: there are no safe customers. The only sure things are death and taxes. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. Unfortunately, you quickly get used to your good customers: The order comes in, is processed, the invoice is created – and the customer pays. But there is a great risk that at some point your customer will no longer feel that they are in good hands with you. That they might even think “Somehow my supplier has become dull, they do not really care about me anymore. Perhaps I should look around at other suppliers, maybe they can provide me with more interesting offers and impulses.” Once customers threaten to leave, many companies and vendors can only think of discounts as a way of retaining their customers. But suppliers who do this are really only saying one thing with this behavior: “We have overcharged you in the past.”

Why do not check your presentation: How attractive is your website? How much of a must-have are you as a provider for (potential) customers? Are your sales staff able to communicate these added values clearly? Or to put it bluntly: What would the market be missing if you were no longer active with your company? If you are now saying meekly: “Nothing really”, then remember: you must be doing something right, otherwise you would have no customers at all. But now is the time to start positioning yourself even more clearly in the market to be interesting and therefore relevant for customers.

How do I achieve high-margin prices?

Buyers have the task of acquiring the required or desired quality at the best conditions. Price is a decisive factor, along with many others. Statements from the purchasing department such as “But your competitor is cheaper!” or demands such as “No, if you do not give me a 10% discount, we will not do business” are commonplace. Nevertheless, there are far too many salespeople who almost gullibly put up with such games – and give away important margins to finally place the long-awaited order.

A buyer must never realize that the supplier is dependent on the order. Otherwise, the supplier can quickly be blackmailed by the buyer. So anyone who regularly wins new customers will sell at higher prices. For a good reason: the seller can enter into price negotiations with a healthy (!) indifference and is thus in a position to signal to the buyer that he would like to work with him – but not at bad prices.

It can be assumed that customers are putting more and more pressure on their suppliers through purchasing. Those who cannot counter this will, at worst, sell – but earn nothing.

How do we get our sales force to act?

Salespeople’s behavior has a massive impact on the company’s balance sheet. Despite this, many managers, whether entrepreneurs or sales managers, are satisfied with a large performance gap between individual employees – and this for years. But can this be right?

Everyone in sales should know what is expected of them. They should also regularly receive very specific ideas and instructions on how to deal with a telephone inquiry from a potential customer, for example, or how the price should ideally be communicated to a professional buyer in a respectful but clear manner. Why not take the test and ask your sales team the following questions?

  • What arguments do we use to differentiate ourselves
    from our competitors?
  • How do we qualify or disqualify customer inquiries in
    an appreciative manner?
  • What statements and behaviors do we use to enforce our prices?
  • What wording do we use to attract attention when acquiring customers over the phone so that our counterpart is happy to talk to us?
  • How much turnover can we achieve this month?

Unfortunately, the answers are often very unsatisfactory. But if there are no well-founded answers to elementary questions, this clearly shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement. What is very reassuring is that if you discover potential in your company, you can make use of it. And it is easier to change yourself and your company than customers and markets.

You have now been presented with five powerful levers for retaining and acquiring customers and increasing sales. It is best to choose one or two of them to tackle as soon as possible so that you have another good sales year in 2024.

Oliver Schumacher 

Sales trainer Oliver Schumacher is a speech scientist (M.A.) and focuses on new aspects of sales training in a friendly, well-founded manner. Under the motto “Honesty sells”, he shows salespeople how to confidently win new customers, successfully master cold calling and assert themselves fairly – even in difficult price negotiations. The multiple book author is known to many through his numerous videos on YouTube. Before starting his own business in 2009, he worked very successfully for over 10 years in field sales for a listed manufacturer of branded goods.

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