A sales representative immediately impacts the success of a company. Since a company measures a salesperson's effectiveness quickly and accurately, they often link compensation directly to performance. When pay is linked to performance, the sales representative's job becomes a small business or personal profit centre. Under these circumstances, a business plan helps a sales representative focus her efforts to produce maximum results. A business plan needs to spell out the sales representative's mission, strategy and goals. The plan should deal with setting goals that are specific, measurable, challenging and realistic.
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Learn everything possible about your product or service. The more you know about what you are selling, the better able you are to assist the customer in making a good decision. A firm grasp of your product or service is essential for developing a solid business plan.
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Establish your sales goal for the year. Depending on your industry, you might set your goal in terms of dollar sales or units sold, but in any case, your starting point needs to be what you intend to achieve during the year. This approach is consistent with the idea of beginning with the end in mind.
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Divide your annual sales goal into monthly and weekly sales goals. If the business is seasonal, do not expect to sell the same dollar amount every month or every week. Make the goals realistic based on the seasonal factors that affect the business.
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Plan your activities based on the "sales funnel" that applies to your business or industry. In most businesses, the salesperson creates a list of potential prospects (sometimes referred to as "suspects"). The list is "suspects" is narrowed down to actual prospects who agree to meet with the salesperson. A small cadre of prospects shows up for the initial meeting with the salesperson and an even smaller percentage of them become customers when they buy the company's product or service. In many industries, a salesperson must generate a list of more than 50 "suspects" to obtain one customer. If a salesperson needed to make 80 sales in a year, he or she would need 4,000 "suspects." This analysis would help the salesperson plan a marketing campaign to generate enough prospects.
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Contact a sufficient number of prospects each month to fill your calendar with sales calls. A systematic approach to contacting prospects and setting up interviews will keep the sales representative busy. A sufficient level of sales activity will translate into a corresponding volume of sales.
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Conduct each sales call with skill and professionalism. Ask questions that will reveal how the prospect might benefit from becoming a customer. Be helpful and answer the prospect's questions honestly. If the sales representative has the customer's best interests at heart, he or she will make more sales.
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Review the sales process at the end to each month to make sure each of the components of the sales representative's business plan is working. When you discover problems, modify the plan. Repeat this continuous improvement process.
- Maximise the number of sales calls. The number of sales calls is the best predictor of sales volume.
- Ask for referrals from customers. The best prospects are usually referred by satisfied customers.
- Don't let rejection get you down. Rejection is a normal part of the sales process.