No matter what you are selling and who your customer is, it is often your negotiation skill that closes the deal. If you are a sales representative, you must know how to negotiate in order to increase sales and profit. Negotiation skill is thus an important tool for implementing your sales strategies. Negotiation is not only a mere skill, it is an art. Here are some tips for the independent sales representatives to use in perfecting his or her art, and to succeed in the sales negotiations:
To make any negotiation successful, the first step is preparation. Effective sales negotiation starts long before you join together at the negotiation table. Doing thorough research is required before actual negotiation with the customer. You need to consider your customer’s situation and to understand what he or she is really expecting from the deal you are offering. You need to understand what and to what extent you can compromise and what you cannot do. Also, preparation gives you ample confidence and helps you to remain calm and confident throughout the negotiation.
A good sales representative wants to close every deal by making all involved happy about the decisions that have made. Here a common human psychology plays a crucial role.
- If you make your customers feel that you are overpowering them, they will turn defensive. However, if you play fair they will definitely do the same.
- Never let your customer pre-judge you and put you under pressure.
- Never leave a dead space while you are negotiating.
Close the deal and meet your commitments
The main goal of sales negotiation is to make the deal profitable for all involved. When you are near to closing a deal, have as many conversations with the client as necessary to address all the crucial and minor details. Try to solve your customer’s issues and concerns. Once the deal is closed and the agreement is signed you have to be sure that you maintain the commitments you make. You have to deliver on the promises you have made to your customer. For example if you have promised any product or service as complimentary, make sure you provide them with that. When you keep your words, you build rapport that will serve you in future negotiations. You might also get referrals to associates of the customer.
With over a decade of experience, RepHunter is known to have provided many companies with high performance sales reps, in all business sectors. With its unique matching process, RepHunter has provided sales representatives, manufacturers representatives and independent sales representatives to thousands companies across American and the globe.
Selling to web retailers can seem really challenging. The funny thing about web retailing is that you can run the business from anywhere. Your web domain might be registered from your Chicago address, your admin person might be in New Jersey and the warehouse might be in Los Angeles. As an independent sales rep, how do you sell to such geographically dispersed buyers? Or how do you track them down in the first place? Well, it is not as difficult as it sounds. In fact, getting through to a web retailer is rather easy as you will find out from the next few paragraphs.
Finding Them First
Not having a brick and mortar store to walk into does not mean that finding them is difficult. The power of search engines makes this task really simple. Narrow the industry or product you represent to about 10 Keywords. For example, if you sell shoe polish, develop keyword phrases such as “Shoe sales in Tulsa”, “Buying ladies shoes in Oklahoma”, and so on. You will get a good list of brick and mortar stores and online stores that are into the business of selling footwear. Do not limit yourself to the first page search results. Go in as deep as you can till you feel that the results are absolutely junk. As a manufacturers rep, you cannot afford to ignore any good sales prospects that might be hiding as far down as the 8th or the 10th page of the search results.
The typical thing most people do once they have found a list of potential customers is to go the contact info on their web page to find out where they are located. While there are a good chunk of web retailers that do provide their contact info, there is also a sizeable chunk who just give a toll free number, a web form or an email address. If the customer is outside their state as seen from the address, there might be a tendency to ignore them. However, this could be an opportunity for a sales rep from that other state. Sharing this information with him would also mean that you are likely to get something in return.
Getting in Touch with the Web Retailer
If all you could find was an email address or a toll free number, send them an introduction. If you do not receive any response within 24 hours, send them a general enquiry. While you do not necessarily have to misrepresent the purpose of the enquiry, a general enquiry could also mean to them that you are enquiring about their products. The good thing about an online store is that most of them are thinly staffed to take advantage of reduced costs, but still believe in really quick response times to compete with a brick and mortar store. It is most likely that you will get a reply with a day if not an hour. While you could make general enquiries about the product, the detective in you must take over and find out details on where they are located, whom to talk to if you had to sell something and so on. Once you have these details, this becomes a sale just like any other sale. However, remember that web retailers rely on economies of scale and you might need to initially support them with a good pricing till their volumes pick up.
An independent sales rep is as important as an inside sales rep and you should take care to ensure that they are treated equally well if not better. There is no simple formula to creating a great working relationship between you as a principal and an independent sales rep. It is built over time through mutual trust and support. However, there are a few things that you can follow to make sure that your relationship with your sales rep is always improving as a work in progress.
Communication forms the back bone of any successful relationship and trust is a very important part of this. Research has shown that any relationship without a proper two-way communication is destined to fail. A sales rep takes the first step of selling your product or service when he understands what needs to be sold. It therefore logical that the salesperson must be provided with good training.
Some principals think that an experienced independent sales rep will not need training because he has worked on similar lines before. This can be potentially very dangerous if his understanding does not match with what you offer in reality. If you haven’t set clear goals or if your sales training hasn’t been good enough, your sales rep is likely to be confused. Such a situation is detrimental to the effectiveness of your campaign.
Set Realistic Expectations
If you know for sure that Product A that you are selling hasn’t historically sold more than 100 units, but you tell your sales guy or gal that the highest figure achieved was 300, the sales rep might get disheartened even if he managed to achieve a sale of 150 units. Being honest with your manufacturers rep can fetch you a lot of rich dividends. There is no better asset than having a motivated fired up rep who trusts you and believes in your products.
Coming back to our initial point of why external sales reps need to be well cared for, your organization’s reputation is very important. A sales rep who has been ticked off badly is more likely to damage your brand’s reputation than somebody who has departed from a contract with your organization on good terms. He or she will have little or no loyalty especially when the time spent selling your products has been just a few months or less. There is no way of keeping tabs on the individual as there is with a regular employee. It is therefore important that communications are clear and expectations set realistically as explained above.
Having regular trainings and interactions, assigning a supervisor to monitor the performance and assist in selling, and making sure that the sales rep is well versed with the process of payouts from your company can help avoid disappointment later. Your escalation process should also be clearly communicated in case the immediate supervisor is not cooperating or is not available.
Reports – unnecessary burden or mutually benefical tool?
Working as an independent sales rep has several advantages. You get to choose the line to work on, your targets are not fixed by your boss and most lines will allow flexible timings. Everything sounds great but one important thing many sales reps ignore is their reporting. Just as an organization relies on their inside sales force to provide them with field data, having a sales rep can provide valuable data. As a manufacturer’s rep, you can provide your principal with data that can help them make projections for the next quarter or even for the next year.
When you make sure that the reporting is in line with your principal’s requirements, you are paving the way for a great partnership between you and the principal. There are many other ways to improve your relationship with your principal.
Keeping in Touch
As an independent sales rep, you may not have an office to report to physically. It is therefore important that you keep in regular touch with your principal. When you are presented with the sales rep opportunity, remember to have the contact details of at least 2 reporting supervisors. Do not wait for a reason to call your principal. If there is nothing important to report, you can always call to say a hello. You might be lucky to get some inputs from your supervisor that might help close that elusive sale.
Sharing Market Information
As an independent sales rep, you might represent more than one principal. It is not uncommon that some reps represent competing manufacturers at the same time. However, sharing market information with your principal is key to ensuring that the products or services that you represent are successful. Your principal will be able to use this information to improve their products and services. You can also share information on the field sales efforts of other manufacturers and service providers. This will help your principal fine tune any sales programs that are being implemented or is in its pre launch phase.
Your Loyalty to the Brand
A manufacturers rep can successfully establish himself or herself as being known by a brand. This is normally achieved through many months or years of dedicated service to that particular brand. Principals love to have such sales reps as it gives their brand better visibility and recall. Customers hate to have different sales people knocking on their doors every few months. Manufacturers and principals love sales reps that do not leave their line easily. If you as a manufacturers rep have been with a brand for more than a year, that also establishes the fact that you believe in the brand and the products being sold. It will also be quiet likely that you have been able to successfully sell their products or services and you have been able to secure your personal income from these sales.
Just as an employee working full time, it is important that you have a good relationship with your principal to guarantee a win-win relationship.
When it comes to maximizing your sales, reaching goals, and making the sales process easier, utilizing the best software possible will give you a big advantage. With so many different tools for sales reps available, it’s easy to get lost. In order to help you avoid spending your money on bogus or low quality software, I’m going to tell you about 5 pieces of software that every sales rep should have in their arsenal.
As a sales rep, having a website to showcase your products and business is essential. It’s nearly impossible to have any type of business without having an online presence and creating a website is the easiest and best place to start. WordPress is a Content Management System that lets you easily set up your own website with absolutely 0 knowledge of coding or technical expertise.
The reason I recommend WordPress for your website is that it’s easy to integrate features such as shopping carts, appointment schedulers, and other tools that sales reps need to help make sales and interact with potential clients.
The sales process is notorious for having loads of paperwork. However, as we move towards a more “Green” world, using less paper is an excellent way to help the community while staying more organized as well. Docusign is a program that allows you to sign documents digitally. Instead of dealing with paper contracts, you can use Docusign to have clients sign digitally. You can email them a copy of the contract or sales order immediately so you don’t have to worry about making copies and faxing.
I would recommend using Docusign for creating sales contracts, order slips, or anything else that requires clients to sign something. In addition to this, DocuSign is also able to integrate with several different CRM solutions as well.
If you have clients all around the world, keeping in touch with them all can become difficult. Skype allows you to have video chats with current or prospective clients right on your computer, laptop, or mobile device. Trying to make a sale through email or even phone sales doesn’t have the personal touch that a face to face conversation will have.
Through Skype, you can show clients your products even if they’re hundreds or thousands of miles away. Emailing a picture or describing what you’re selling over the phone is no match for a live presentation.
I’m not sure about you, but I know that as a sales person I love some sort of incentive to give me even more motivation and drive. This is exactly what Xactly does. Most sales organizations have some sort of incentive or bonus program to help motivate sales reps already, but Xactly gives you a way to automate and organize it all so you’re not doing it manually.
I like the dashboard of Xactly because it gives you a full view of where you stand as a sales rep in regards to commissions, how you’re doing in the compensation program, the ability to print reports and other useful features.
The SupeRep app for iPad by Wrnty.com is a complete CRM that gives you everything you’d expect and more. Even though it’s aimed at wholesale companies, even smaller sales companies with sales reps can benefit from it as well. One of my favorite aspects of this tool is the e-Catalog. You can actually create a full digital catalog of all the products you sell and place orders right from the app. There are several other features as well like creating reports, tracking goals, and managing your customers.
I also chose this app from www.wrnty.com because it’s focused on one thing, increasing sales. Having features like alarms when you make sales or other gizmos is fine, but if a tool isn’t going to help you get more sales, what’s the point?
I personally recommend all of these tools for sales reps or sales companies looking to get ahead and increase sales. Also if you’re serious about sales you should join SMEI. SMEI is an association of sales professionals joined together to help motivate each other and get access to a wide range of tools and benefits that will help you progress.
Ofer M. Yourvexel has been WRNTY’s CEO since 2009. His management experience spans the global high-tech and retail sectors. Before joining WRNTY, Ofer served as VP and Head of Information Management Products at Amdocs (NYSE:DOX) and Managing Director of International Operations at Jacada Ltd. (NASDAQ:JCDA). Ofer holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering and Management from Tel Aviv University.
Mr. Yourvexel has been selected as a guest author. His opinions are not necessarily those of RepHunter.
Every business revolves around sales. The ultimate aim of every business is to make maximum sales in order to generate more revenue. Every business process revolves around achieving the sales targets. Sales are not the cream in your coffee. It is the coffee itself. In order to improve your sales goals and take your business to new heights, it is highly crucial to use independent sales representatives who are passionate and motivated and most importantly share the same zeal as you.
Every business whether big or small knows the importance of sales reps. Sales channels not only facilitate in acquiring new customers, but they also keep the business alive. The nurturing of your sales channels is critical when foreign manufacturers are successfully capturing market share with low pricing and internet marketing.
With the market brimming with sales representatives, it is imperative that when selecting sales reps for your business, you look for certain intrinsic qualities in them. Here are some of the qualities and tips that will help you to choose the right sales reps for your business:
Honesty – as a sales representative will represent your business, it is essential that the your sales rep be honesty and have integrity. An honest sales representative will ensure that your customers develop the idea that they are dealing with a business that is built on the principles of honesty and openness.
Knowledge and good conversational skills – since a sales representative will be actually presenting your product/service to the customers, it is highly essential that your rep has excellent communication skills. A sales rep who has the knowledge about your business and products can easily handle all the queries of your customers. A good conversationalist will form a bond with your prospective customers even in the case the sale does not materialize, paving the way for future sales.
Passion and enthusiasm – If your sales rep is passionate about your business and products, he can induce a sense of urgency to purchase by imprinting his enthusiasm on the customers. A passionate sales rep can handle stressful situations better and is better positioned to overcome objections thus enabling the business to generate more revenue as compared to a sales rep with less fervor.
The X Factor – When placing a sales rep try to determine how they will behave and communicate. If you find a laid-back and casual attitude when they are interacting with you, it suggests that the sales rep have the same attitude with your customers. Find out the things that drive them in order to understand their motivation levels.
With years of experience, RepHunter has been allowing fast-growing companies to expand their operations by providing them the most suitable sales reps. From agriculture, construction and mining to manufacturing, transportation, finance, insurance, information, entertainment, pharmaceuticals, hospitality and public administration, RepHunter through its unique matching process has enabled hundreds of manufacturers and businesses to build their sales force with independent sales representatives, sales representatives and manufacturer’s representatives. Call us today toll free at 877-895-2909 to find out how RepHunter can help you achieve your sales targets.
The purpose of a sales forecasting plan is to allocate company resources with an objective to achieve anticipated sales. An organization can forecast sales either by forecasting market level sales (market forecasting) and determining what share of this will accrue to the company, or by forecasting the organization’s sales directly.
Sales forecasting is actually the art and science of predicting the future demands by anticipating how consumers are likely to behave in a given set of circumstances. A company might ask ‘what will be the demand if real incomes increase by 10% or how would the demand be impacted if a competitor launches a similar product. Other functions in organization – production, purchasing, finance, HR plans – are also affected by the sales forecast.
One of the best methods of sales forecasting is to consider recent past sales of the company. As the business environment does not change all of a sudden, the sales figures of the last quarter help management know the kind of sales they can expect in the coming months. When applied quantitatively, this is known as the Time Series approach to forecasting sales. Different components of Time Series Analysis are Seasonal Analysis, Trend Analysis, Cycle Analysis, and Random Factor Analysis. Usually all of these components are applied to the analysis and computations.
Using market research data is another quantitative method of sales forecasting. The technique involves directly asking people what they intend to do in the future. A number of large market research firms continually gather such information. They may ask consumers questions like “do you intend to purchase a tablet in the next month/3 months/6 months/year, or later?” Such firms may also conduct research upon salary ranges and if the consumers expect to be better off or worse off in future. The results of these surveys allow businesses to predict sales patterns across a wide variety of consumer durable goods.
Sale forecasting techniques can also be qualitative. Some organizations use the Delphi Technique for forecasting sales. A “delphi” starts with development of a questionnaire focusing on the problem. A panel of experts is chosen and the questionnaire is sent to them. Each participant answers the questionnaire independently and returns it. Responses to the questionnaire are summarized and a further questionnaire is developed, based on the findings of first questionnaire. The revised questionnaire is sent to the same panel of experts. The members of expert panel independently rate and prioritize ideas included in the second questionnaire. The process is repeated until those who are investigating the issue feel firm positions in the expert group and agreement on a topic is reached. The budget for production and sales is planned as per expert group’s responses and ideas.
Another qualitative method of sales forecasting is Brainstorming, a group technique used to generate new, useful ideas and promote creative thinking. Brainstorming is most effective with groups of 6-12 people and works best with a varied group. So within an organization, a brainstorming session should include participants from different departments and from different backgrounds.
RepHunter helps companies to find sales representation, and independent reps to find new lines. These reps not only make it possible for companies to expand their market reach and increase revenue, but also help to provide input for the prediction of sales for your business. Experienced sales reps understand the realities of the market and help businesses to become aware of those conditions, especially as it affects their customers. In particular they can provide the type of market intelligence necessary to the market research described above for surveys or a delphi. With more control over your sales profile, it becomes easier to improve your visibility, revise and upgrade your product lines or target markets, and make other changes in business plans without delay. Call us toll free at 877-895-2909 to find how RepHunter can help you with your business sales.
The cat has been out of the bag for quite some time now – sales cycles are getting longer, irrespective of the industry you are in. The top clients that used to close deals in a matter of weeks are now taking a whole quarter of painstaking negotiations just to convert into a qualified sales lead. Although, the cause for this phenomena could be narrowed down to the 2008 world financial crisis, a closer look tells us that the reasons for this carry forward to the current and the foreseeable years are an amalgamation of complex factors, including ever increasing client awareness, and the focus on self empowerment and knowledge gathering across industry.
In spite of the advent of new and innovative marketing communication tools such as online social media and grass-root level marketing techniques, there is a constant stream of reports which indicates that creating qualified leads continues to be the biggest challenge that manufacturers, suppliers and service providers face on an ongoing basis. Sales cycles, especially in the technology sector, are getting longer by the day. Some contributing factors include – the requisition of highly specific information, multiple decision making authorities, long-drawn procedures mandated by the company or the industry, and the dependency on the efficiency of internal communication between concerned departments.
The main reasons for lengthening sales cycle can however, be categorized into four principle factors – tighter budgets, avoidance of risky decisions, an increasing number of options for buyers, and dropping standards in the quality of personnel and procedures in marketing and sales operations. Despite this, one should remember that marketing and sales is still the pivotal functional area of any profit-based organization. Sales personnel will always be the first to be hired and the last to be fired, however dire the financial health and the bottom-line issues, and howsoever stringent the updated cost-cutting policies of the company.
For B2B marketers, this has immense significance, particularly in the short and medium term. Whether a business has an in-house sales team, or a team of independent sales reps, or a combination of both, the senior management is always looking for quick and easy methods to get their sales cycle down. This is easier said than done though, especially if you are relying on the exploits of hired sales reps.
The recommended approach for principals is that of considered patience, knowledge building, and logistical and moral support. Periodic training for manufacturers’ reps in better and innovative communication techniques and procedures that assimilate novel sales ideas are the order of the day. For the customer, the only thing that matters is the brand that is being represented by the independent sales rep. He is no longer bothered with the sales rep’s personal credentials. To reverse this mindset is the only way out for businesses, and to achieve that, the empowerment of sales reps is of paramount importance.
Rephunter offers a unique and innovative matching process that makes it convenient for qualified independent sales representatives to network with manufacturers and distributors within an efficient and trustworthy framework. For more information, visit RepHunter at http://www.rephunter.net/.
As your field soldiers, the sales force of your company is among the most important links between your company and the market. An ineffective sales team can be detrimental to your organization’s efforts of brand building or improving market penetration. While organizations put in a lot of effort into training and mentoring their inside sales team, the outside sales force is an ignored lot, at least with many companies. As far as a customer is concerned, he only looks at the brand being represented by the sales rep. He is not going to dig deep into the individual’s credentials if he is a direct representative or an independent sales rep. All he is bothered about is if the manufacturer’s rep can fulfill his demands for a product or service.
Improving Productivity Through Training
Training is considered to be one of the most effective ways of improving the productivity of an individual. Training basically ensures that an individual’s understanding, operation and expression is in line with that of the company he works for or represents. Ignoring training can have disastrous effects on an individual’s productivity starting from motivation. Research has shown that apart from skill development, training an individual can do a lot to motivate the person. At training sessions, it is common to find many people who share their knowledge of a common subject and the positive atmosphere can do a lot for the motivation levels, especially that of a sales rep.
Training is also the time when the ‘trained’ get an opportunity to clear their doubts. There will be many questions that cannot be addressed through a simple telephone call especially if it is product related. If the manufacturers rep has been struggling with an internal process, having a team of experts at the training or even other sales reps helping out can drastically improve the productivity.
Depending on the training budget, you can always tweak the frequency of training, but it is a good idea to have a training program once a quarter or at least semi-annually, depending upon your industry. As the principal, you will also get to connect with your sales reps, understand their practical difficulties and fine tune your sales programs based on the feedback received.
Improving Productivity Through Better Communication Methods
Better communication involves giving the independent sales rep the right tools and making sure that the communication with you is as smooth as possible. While it may be outside the organizational scope to provide any communication device to a sales rep, some organizations do encourage this practice. If budget is a constraint, you can have a precondition set before you make the offer to the independent sales rep. For example, if you have an Android app whereby the sales rep makes his daily update, you need to make sure that the new person being considered has an Android smart phone.
Having a dedicated desk to answer to the queries of outside sales force is always a good idea. One of the most common complaints received is that there is nobody to answer. You can avoid this by identifying one or two internal resources as the main point of contact for your outside sales team.
If you are an independent sales rep, you probably know the importance of attending a trade show. Not only does a trade show help an independent sales rep to find prospective customers, they are a great place for building relationships. Unlike offices, a trade shows has an open atmosphere as they are designed to promote products and gain more business.
Here is how to make the most of your opportunity at a trade show:
First, although it should go without saying, be sure to divide your time carefully between the booths of your various vendors. You should also discuss your commission in advance with the vendor for the orders that you write during your time spent in the booth, as the vendor may have a different expectation from your normal commission rates.
Do not spend all your time in the vendor booths writing orders. Wander around the booths and do your best to make new connections with other prospective vendors. Be sure to carry a copy of your line card so that you can pass it on when needed. A note of caution here, don’t jump into any offers for sales that you may receive. Do a little due diligence to check potential new vendors out before you commit.
If you can, it is a good idea to have a booth of your own where you can display all the products that you represent. Having your own booth allows you to make use of advertising that may attract other potential vendors to you. To gain the attention of customers and potential vendors, try to make your booth stand out from others. Make it look inviting, and keep it open for people to walk in. Plan ahead so as not to run out of business cards or brochures.
As the trade show ends and exhibitors are pack up, your next job begins. It is time now to call those you met at the trade show and start building relationships. Trust is a critical factor in business. Begin to build trust while your memories of those you met are freshest.
Finally take note that there are companies who bring out products in a trade show that are not a part of their regular production. Customers may be impressed with the product and may even order it, only to become disappointed if the delivery takes too long. Along with the company, you too lose a customer. However, these situations can be avoided by being aware of any special restrictions or limitations with the trade show merchandise.