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Watching Sales Increase by 150% in a Recession


As people feel the full bite of the recession, the quest to survive puts more pressure on the need to find more and better clients. One key problem, poor sales performance, is simply more visible in difficult trading conditions.


(Real Life – Accounting Firm: Jan – June 2009)

The Background: profits and sales were slipping. The practice was simply letting new business slide through its fingers. Using a number of fairly sophisticated marketing techniques, potential clients were invited to presentations, exhibitions, updates and seminars as opportunities for face-to-face contact. Yet sales conversion rates were disappointing.

The Problem: poor sales performance despite having a decent product.

The Reason: poorly trained staff and lousy systems.

The Solution: a few simple changes that will have a massive impact on your bottom line.

It was identified that staff had been expertly trained on the technical side of their job but were lacking the more subtle inter-personal skills that are so important. Accountants are great at doing accounts, but not so great at talking to potential clients about why they should be appointed.

Director level support brought the issue out into the open.

My point to you is that you need to focus on these critical issues. And then your sales performance will improve. So, the crunch questions are:

  • Who is the ideal/target customer? What are their problems? Why do they buy your product?
  • Do you really understand what it is that the customer is buying? Are you selling the benefits rather than the features?
  • Why should people buy from you when they can buy from the competition? What makes you different from the rest?
  • How to start and finish a conversation?
  • Do you deliver a credible and compelling Audio Logo/Elevator Pitch/One-Minute Intro?
  • Can you ask for the business? Can you ask for referrals?
  • Are you able to close the sale?

For any sales professional this is the stuff that Session One from Day One of a Sales Course should cover.  (Spookily this is very similar to the programme we take businesses through on the Bright Marketing courses that I run for Barclays). The reality is far from the truth.

Your ‘sales people’ need to be taken through a process like the one outlined above. Add decent measurement systems (targets, some decent prospect data, metrics, and conversion ratios) to your soft skills and selling becomes a simple game: you know how many conversations create an appointment and create a new client.

Results: In the six months we worked with our client we saw their competitors going bust and the industry lose its confidence. However, our client saw client sales rocket. Compare the numbers:

6 mths to 31 Dec 08              6 mths to 30 June 09

Leads                                    300                                          350

Conversations                     140                                          180

Proposals                              50                                            95

New Clients                           20                                            50

Leaving out any complicated or sophisticated explanations, the incredible thing was that new clients had increased by a remarkable 150%.

What does this say to you? Well, small changes in how you go about the sales process have a massive impact. Many trainers use Micky Mouse numbers to impress their audience, but here is an example where the numbers speak for themselves.

Robert Craven shows MDs and owners how to grow their sales and profits and focuses on how to do this in recessionary times. His latest book is the runaway success “Beating the Credit Crunch – survive and thrive in the current recession”
He is a keynote speaker and the author of business best-seller ‘Kick-Start Your Business’ (foreword by Sir Richard Branson) and runs The Directors’ Centre, helping growing businesses to grow.
For further information, contact Robert Craven on 01225 851044, [email protected]

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