A Successful sales culture for uncertain times28 December 2016
When the economic and market outlook is unsettled and unpredictable, an informed, involved, technically competent and positive sales force is key, says Paul Black, chief executive of sales-i
Conflicting reports on the health of the UK’s construction industry have fuelled post-Brexit uncertainty. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports it performing at its weakest in four years.
However, the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) says sales have increased and firms are enjoying solid growth. But regardless of how you perceive the health of the industry, in the current period of intensified global competition and economic limbo, timber and building materials sales people can’t afford to miss out on opportunity. Smaller independent manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors are not typically enthusiastic adopters of new techniques and technology, but if upping their game means a change in approach, now, as we enter a new year, is the time to do it.
A proactive, empowered sales team can hit bigger targets and help businesses mitigate wider uncertainty. One way to help achieve this and build a successful sales culture is to embrace new technology. Salespeople can view it as a distraction, or labour-intensive obligation. But it’s best treated as an opportunity. So involve your team in technology adoption. Ascertain their individual needs and listening to their suggestions.
This will ensure you choose the most relevant solution. The right tools can help solve many daily challenges faced by your team and free up more time for them to pursue sales. Certain software can automate routine administration and take care of repetitive reporting. Analytics platforms can turn historic purchase data into a clearer picture of customer behaviour, helping sales identify new opportunities. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can also increase transparency and accessibility of information companywide. They keep a sales team connected to customers. You should also aim to learn from your ‘millennials’; staff who came to young adulthood around 2000.
Salespeople of this generation are likely to be more comfortable with technology. They’ll use social media to communicate with friends – so why not with prospective customers too? When used strategically, these platforms can also facilitate professional interaction and build faster, stronger business relationships.
The millennial generation is also hungry to learn new skills, often valuing on-going training over and above other perks. Embrace their enthusiasm and encourage more experienced salespeople to do so. Both could learn a lot from the other about how to sell more effectively. In fact, encouraging team-building activities and training programmes is another must in creating a successful sales culture. Investing in sales team development increases confidence, abilities, and loyalty, all to the long-term benefit of your business.
Whether you choose to outsource these programmes or manage them in-house, make sure you’re actively involved in developing the content. Coach your teams, monitor their progress, acknowledge achievements and suggest improvements.
Economic uncertainty affects the entire supply chain, from materials manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors through to construction firms themselves. A proactive approach to sales will help your company overcome setbacks. To achieve it, make sure people have the technology, training and positive attitude they need to stay that step ahead.