In general terms, a sales job is one where unexpected situations arise on a daily basis. Brands are not equal, and nor are their products or their needs. This means that commercial teams will constantly face challenges, negotiations and targets in keeping abreast of the new and unknown.
While it is not possible to control this level of uncertainty, there are other aspects of sales work which can and must be tightly controlled in order to guarantee optimum results. Indeed organisation and planning work very much in our favour when it comes to sales. To boost sales and expand our client base we must follow a series of logical, ordered steps which lead automatically to an efficient sales process.
Whether you are selling yoghurts, shoes or pens, the sale must never be considered a single action but rather a process in which each stage must be perfectly and consistently completed . And at each of these stages personalisation is a key factor. The definition of a perfect visit must take account of this concept: the perfect visit should be seen as quite the opposite to a standard process that applies to all customers equally.
Having said this, the process should include certain key steps:
1. Prior preparation
This phase can be summarised in one word: research. It is essential to acquire the habit of asking, tracking and finding out more. It is not a cliché to say that knowledge is power, and any information you can gather about your customer will help you tailor your visit towards increased sales. What is your customer like? What is their history? What are the strengths of their product? What are the brand’s weak points? Digital transformation and the tools deriving from this process are great allies in this area. Technology that records each customer’s history and suggests opportunities for improvement is perfect for supporting your bid to increase sales.
Try to answer as many questions possible, not only in relation to the customer, but also their sector in general and their particular concerns. Anticipate possible scenarios and seek solutions for all of them. Once at the point of sale you will be in a position to make the most of your visit and give the customer the impression that you are confident and in control.
2. Objectives of the visit
The whole prior preparation phase will help us to detect the direction in which our customer is moving and what is going on beyond the purchases or orders they have made. This will be the basis for the next phase of the perfect visit, what are we hoping this visit will achieve?
It may be a point of contact for prospecting or monitoring or indeed it may be a visit in which we must activate a new promotion. In either case, the commercial team must establish in advance the objective to be achieved and any discursive or technological tools required to do so.
3. Review of point of sale
When planning this phase of the perfect visit, a key fact is that although many consumers make purchasing decisions in advance, 62% still decide which product or brand to buy at the point of sale itself. This makes display a crucial factor and correct exposure is an essential mechanism in achieving increased sales.
But what do we understand by correct location and exposure? A review of hot and cold display zones and the routes that they generate is required. The role played by image recognition technology is key in this area, for example, in helping us to check KPIs at the point of sale. All this helps us to achieve the aim of facilitating customer access on the basis that the less time they spend finding us, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
4. A further step
Once we have ensured that the position and visibility of the brand are correct and agreed, and have encouraged activation of secondary locations, we will have established the bases for achievement our main objective: to sell more.
Any sales process must include this phase, based on optimizing current presence at the point of sale. On the basis of our prior review, an action plan will be designed that seeks, on one hand, to reduce stock breakages and protect our own spaces in the display, and on the other, to increase visibility by negotiating new displays with the point of sale’s manager and placing display units in new spaces.
The next step is to ensure that the customer buys more than originally planned. Two key sales concepts come into play, namely up-selling and cross-selling.
Up-selling is based on promotions and offers encouraging the customer to purchase a higher-end product. Cross-selling, seeks to encourage consumers to buy a second product that is different from, but complementary to, the first.
The last phase of this commercial process is analysis, which should cover points for improvement and evaluation of the KPIs that will be the foundation for planning the next visit which is where the process begins again.
A key part of this step is access to systems that allow us to gather data immediately. This will allow visits to be optimised while at the same time making useful data available to other team members and managers. Such systems mean it is possible to access data about each point of sale in real time.