xkzero has been experiencing significant growth. In 2023, we increased year-over-year ERP software sales for the two brands we represent by 440% and 967% respectively. During a recent company meeting we discussed this as “closing the sales gap”. This of course led to a good question, how exactly do you close the sales gap?
As a sales and marketing business consultant for over 17 years, I was often asked by economic development agencies to improve the sales performance of regional manufacturers. Many of these were at-risk companies who needed quick sales revenue to survive. Most didn’t have time for long-tail marketing to generate a pipeline of qualified leads. They needed improved sales velocity, and higher closing rates. They needed to close the sales gap immediately.
xkzero has always been a strong and growing company but the principles are the same. What follows are methods I use to optimize sales performance before investing in marketing. Essentially, increase closing rates before running marketing dollars through it. These are simple and logical steps to energize the power of your team.
- Improve follow-up. This is one of the most critical success factors for selling. F3: Frequent. Friendly. Follow-up. Respect your customer’s time but follow-up. I can’t tell you how many times a salesperson will rescue a sideways or lost deal because they followed up at the right time.
- Establish common goals. People tend to make micro-adjustments when they know where the team is headed. These little changes add up. For example, Salespeople are often rewarded for individual performance, but a team goal may incentivize them to collaborate and share best practices.
- Treat sales as a process. Understand your customer’s needs and journey. Create sales stages that are actions not categories and “close” each stage: 1) introduce the company and product, 2) discover their needs, 3) discuss possible solutions, 4) adjust according to their needs, 5) propose 6) negotiate 7) close. Processes can be optimized and improved; plan do, study, adjust.
- Reduce as much non-value-added back-office admin as possible. Tools such as online document signing, templates, standard documentation as well as CRM systems can significantly increase the percentage of time on sales follow-up and improve close rates.
- Leadership. My team is made up of extremely smart and talented people. Ultimately, they will do the selling. I listen to them, and make sure they have what they need to succeed. I remove obstacles if possible and I trust them.
- Follow-up – Did I mention Follow-up?
While there is no silver-bullet, these actions taken together can significantly increase velocity, increase closing rates, and close the sales gap.