1. Develop A Sales Plan
First and foremost, you need to answer the key sales questions regarding your business in a sales plan.
· What do you want to sell in the next 12 months
· How will that be split by month or quarter and over what distribution?
· What are the products that you anticipate selling?
· Who is going to be responsible for what in the sales plan?
Then the softer more difficult issues
o Why will customers want to buy from you?
o How will you sell your product?
o Where and when will customers become aware of you?
o Where and when will they buy?
And finally how much is it anticipated this will all cost?
Once you’ve answered all of the above, you can start selling from a more solid foundation. Most importantly, you now have a road map that you can refer to on a regular basis that will keep you focused on the key objectives you are seeking to realise. (Drop us a note here if you'd like to receive a copy of our free Sales Template)
Now you need to wrap a combination of processes, systems and IT solutions around this plan. Establishing these as regular activities and fixing them into a routine will help your business in two important ways.
1. Decisions should be based on better structures and information
2. You will have milestones & targets to measure progress
2. Invest in understanding your market
Whilst developing your Sales Plan, you should take some time to research trends in your market place and your customer’s expectations, wants and needs. This counts for both the end drinker and your trade buyers. The more you understand and respond to your market place and its shifting requirements, the better you are able to secure opportunities others may have missed.
1. Primary Market research includes research projects such as customer face-to-face interviews or surveys which can be conducted on an annual or half yearly basis.
2. Secondary research that taps into industry reports, trade news, social media channel conversations, website and search engine analytics can also bring up juicy nuggets of information that can be used to your advantage.
The Business of Drinks tip -As a particular case in point, TripAdvisor provides a great seam of data to mine on local food and drink venues across the UK. It gives you a better sense of a venue’s cuisine or existing bar list and how well it could match your particular drinks offer. Use the area search options and filters to create short lists of prospects in advance of your sales rep visiting an area. This approach can save you travel time and improve your sales rep conversion results.
3. Collect & Track Your Sales Lead & Customer Data
Keep track on your sales contacts and all communications with each contact in an integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Excel spreadsheets have their uses, but you are missing out on greater levels of instant reporting and tracking if you store all your sales details in this way. CRM systems don’t have to cost much and many basic systems start from £10 per person per month. They now come with website and mobile app data entry/review options which increases their flexibility and usefulness further still.
The Business of Drinks Tip Check out Capsule CRM as an affordable option solution built by a UK firm.
4. Standardise and Optimise Your Pitches & Contracts
Having highly customized deals for each on-trade or retail customer can result in confusion and difficulties working out your profitability in the longer run. Take the time to work out your template pitch documents, deals and contracts which can then be tweaked here and there for final company presentations.
Remember KISS – Keep it Short & Simple.
5. Implement a Sales Quality Control System
To make sure you’re completely on top of your Sales Process, put a Sales Quality Control System in place. In practice, this could mean asking your customers to answer a few generic questions once a month, in person or online where they let you know how you are doing. Also, internally you can keep a record of complaints, returns or other issues and review them on a month-to-month basis to measure how well you’re doing.
The Business of Drinks Tip Develop a simple questionnaire on Survey Monkey (which is free) and develop a list of email addresses to mail out to.
All of the above is easier if you have a clear “Sales Plan”. If you would like a copy of our “Sales Plan” template please just drop us a line and we can provide you with a template & guidance notes.