“My mantra is that sales has no real dark art. It's actually just about being organized and disciplined, and using the right tools so that you can manage the right activities in the right places.” For author and sales consultant Ian Cartwright, growing sales revenue requires a simple but direct approach defined by action: not fixating on end sales results.
Ian Cartwright is the founder of Ian Cartwright Sales Coaching, and author of The 6 Fundamentals of Sales Know-How, a sales handbook for new B2B professionals and SME owners. Ian joined Numerik CEO Jonathan Hubbard for a discussion and interview on his approach to growing sales revenue based on his 30+ years of sales experience.
Read on to watch the full liveshow, get access to Ian's free resources, and view our highlights.
Get the resources mentioned in the video here
Part 1: What we do and where we do it, how Ian Cartwright grows sales revenue
How do you grow sales revenue? Ian explains that to grow sales revenue, you’ll need to recognize which sales activities bring success, and concentrate on doing them in the right areas.
“…if you understand your numbers, and what it takes to get a prospect through [to a closed deal], then you can do the right things in the right places every day.”
Know which sales activities bring success
Make sure your reps understand and can measure how much of a particular sales activity they need to do to achieve a particular sales result.
“In my first sales role in 1994/93, I knew my measurement was I needed to make 12 phone calls a day for meetings: it's still really simple like that. Things have changed with social selling and digital selling, because we're doing different types of outreach, but we still need to be doing the activity.”
Here's an example: If a rep needs to hit a $100k sales target, and they know that 50% of proposals succeed, they can work backwards to find out which activities they need to do each day, and how many. E.g. X number of calls, X no. meetings, X no. proposals per day.
Nurturing sales among your existing customers
If you want to grow the most sales revenue in a short time, the best place to start is with your existing customer base: building closer relationships, understanding how your products help them, and where growth opportunities lie.
To pinpoint which customers have room to grow, and make plans for nurturing them, your reps will need a way of categorizing their customers, relative to their importance/growth potential.
“I know who my Platinum customers might be: those one or two which your business really revolves around. Then you've got your gold customers, silver, bronze. You’ll need to come up with some criteria that works for your business to ascertain what it means if a customer’s gold, silver. It might be to do with how much business you do with them now, but it might be potential.”
By tracking customer performance over time, reps can see which customers have room to grow, and which ones should be left alone. Make sure your team knows how to communicate with, and nurture each tier (platinum, gold, silver, bronze) of customer.
Ensure sales reps have all the right contacts
To get their deals over the line efficiently, reps need to know exactly the right people in a business to be talking with.
“[It’s] about making sure that you know who all the decision makers are, particularly in your platinum and gold customers, because you don't want to be surprised.”
Encourage your reps to find out who the key decision makers are for each tier of customer and note them down in a contact matrix. As for getting a contact, it can be as simple as asking 'this deal that we're trying to get over the line...who else do I need to be talking to about it?'
Keep track of potential sales opportunities
Once your reps have a better understanding of their existing customers’ potential, they can start looking for sales opportunities: whitespaces.
“Write down who your top 10 customers are. You may have five, six, multiple products that you're dealing with, or taking to market, but you might be able to map out and say actually, for my top customer, they're only dealing with four out of my six products. And I know they're getting the other two from someone else. So I need to put a plan in place to see what I need to do to secure that business.”
By understanding each customer’s problems, building rapport with them, and knowing how to engage with them, reps can begin to capitalize on these whitespaces to boost sales revenue.
Use existing business to generate more
Once reps have developed great customer relationships, they can start leveraging those connections to get case studies, referrals, and turn existing customers into advocates.
“If you can really nurture those existing customers, make sure you're maximizing the amount of problems you're solving for them, then you get to develop low cost simple case studies that you can share as anecdotes with other customers that you're talking to.”
Reps can ask their customers for recommendations of other related businesses they could get in contact with: an easy conversation to have if a strong relationship exists. Ian explains that sales is like growing mold, mold spores next to one another, and so do great sales.
Part 2: Video takeaways on speaking your customers’ language, sales coaching, and the sales funnel
Read the condensed interview below for Ian’s take on enriching customer relationships, developing a sales coaching routine, how his 6 Fundamentals work, and how to advance prospects down the sales funnel better.
Speaking your customers’ language and sales coaching routines
Jonathan : 15:15min - If I’m a rep out in the field, what can I do to make sure I’m talking in my customer’s language?
- Ian : First, you’ll need to understand what their business is, and what their typical challenges are. Spend time with the customer in their store/workplace, and ask them questions. Your goal is to build trust and rapport by understanding their context.
- Ian : Talking in your customer’s language is about understanding their world, their problems, and how your products solve those problems. Through building rapport and understanding, you can start to help your customer solve their core problems by recommending better products.
- Ian : And ultimately, if you’re new to sales, there’s nothing wrong with saying to your customer “I’m just new to this role. I’d love to learn more about what you do. Can you explain to me what that machine does?”
Jonathan : 17:29min - Would ‘speaking in your customer’s language’ be something a sales manager could roleplay with a new rep?
- Ian : It’s hard for sales managers these days because there’s so much to do, but the manager’s job is to coach, and opportunities for coaching can happen in the field. A sales manager riding shotgun with a rep to visit a customer, can sit in on meetings and give a review afterwards. Ask: “What happened there? What do you think you can improve on?”
- Ian : There are many opportunities for coaching, but note that you can’t do sales training once a quarter - it’s got to be ongoing. That’s how you grow your team and make everybody’s life easier.
Jonathan : 18:39min - How can sales managers practically work coaching into their month?
- Ian : You’ve got to program it in, and think about the best time each week you can run training e.g. a Friday afternoon when not many customers want to see you. That’s a good time to be doing coaching, working on organizational discipline, and planning out your next week.
- Ian : Additionally, there’s two sides to coaching. There’s alot of focus on losses e.g. we lost this because of X and what could we have done better? However, it’s equally important to look at why you’re winning e.g. we won a big deal, what did we do really well there?
How Ian’s 6 Fundamentals work in practice
Jonathan : 20:51mins - Can you give us an example of how your 6 Fundamentals have worked well in practice?
- Ian : I think a good example would be me: where the Fundamentals gelled for me was around the 2000s when I was working for a motor control business as a regional manager. We put a plan in place, growing revenue by 300% for 3 years by mapping out our customers by region, then industry segment, then identifying what it was we did for them and being clear about who was who in the zoo.
- Ian : It was about making sure we were doing the right stuff for the right people, which takes time. And developing a good sales methodology under that, where you’re learning to ask those questions and uncover needs so you can then offer a proposal that adds value. It’s not a dark art, it’s about just breaking it down into bite sized chunks, and doing these things every day.
Audience question: advancing prospects down the sales funnel
Audience Question : 26:02mins - In the sales funnel you referred to customers being further along these days. In your opinion is it better to give them more info online and let them advance themselves? Or get them to contact you to get that info (but potentially frustrate them) but control the process better?
- Ian : It’s abit of a balance actually, because customers will get frustrated if they have to log in and give up an email address to get information. I wouldn’t encourage that scenario, instead looking at trying to give information that actually encourages people to go abit further. So look to give people genuine information that adds value, and is easy to get. But also, every time you give information, have a call to action to remind people you’re there to help: if there’s something they don’t understand/want more detail on, you’re there to help.
- Ian : In my book I look at SAVE, instead of the 4 P’s of marketing: Solution, Access, Value, Education. It’s about making yourself accessible, and educating them rather than pushing too much stuff at them. The right things will happen if you’ve got content out there which is accessible and adding value.
If you’d like to hear from more sales experts, why not come along to our next webinar on July 12th? Click here to get more details.