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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 23, 2007 • Issue 07:04:02

Inspiration

Sales stars are people stars

People are pivotal to any sales venture. An enterprise can have the most advanced technology; a Web site complete with videos, music and animation; and a marble-tiled office in an upscale district. Nevertheless, success hinges on its employees.

Therefore, it is important that a company's structure and processes support sales professionals so they can reach their true potential and close the most deals.

Following are six things you can do to create the optimal sales environment:

1. Start at the top

Businesses need to foster sales success from the top down. This means your upper management team should ensure that sales team goals and high-level visions and strategies are aligned.

If bureaucracy interferes with the signing of sales agreements, there is a problem. For example, if you decide to increase sales by 2% but then slash in-house administrative staff (who process applications and ship equipment), agents may have difficulty even maintaining let alone increasing their current level of sales.

2. Recruit the best

Skilled salespeople who are personally invested in the welfare of their clients make money for themselves and the companies they represent. The best ways to attract such people are to 1) establish high ethical standards through your own personal behavior and your company's business practices and 2) bring out the best in the staff you already have by training them well and keeping their skills up to date.

Training can take many forms:

  • boot camp style basic training
  • apprenticeships with skilled agents
  • ongoing mentoring
  • seminars on important industry topics
  • webinars and other forms of online training
  • printed training materials and relevant publications
  • assistance in attending industry events.

3. Motivate your team

Even the best agents benefit from outside encouragement so they can continue to thrive. Get to know your team members. Find out what sorts of activities and materials help them.

For some companies, performance-based bonuses and free training may get the juices flowing. For others it might be team-building exercises or sales contests. It's your job to find out what works best and implement effective programs.

4. Hold 'em close

Once you have a team of well-trained, motivated sales stars, the last thing you want is to lose any of them. It's disruptive to your business. Plus, it is much less expensive to retain a good sales professional than to hire and train a new one. Tell your agents how important they are to you.

Keep communication lines open, and encourage feedback even from the newest employees or contractors. In addition, offer creative compensation packages such as incentives, additional vacation time or other recognition.

5. Retain customers

Agent retention is tied directly to customer retention. And similar to sales reps, it is much less expensive to retain customers than to secure new ones. This doesn't mean you should cease prospecting. It just means you must recognize the value of your existing client roster. This is where good client-agent relationships are invaluable.

Merchants are less likely to be lured away from their current service providers if they feel personally invested and committed to their current business relationships. Agents must always keep in mind just how important relationship building is. Help them hone their skills, and your business will improve accordingly.

6. Change with the times

Nothing remains the same. Customers' needs change. Perspectives, businesses and technology are always evolving. Therefore, sales strategies must be able to shift as needed.

Your procedures need to be fluid and dynamic, so they can remain effective as the business climate takes surprising turns. Anticipate new developments, and be ready to help your sales team adapt.

Our industry is flooded with free terminals and products that have grown increasingly commoditized. As a merchant services provider, some of your most valuable "products" are your sales agents.

Showcase them. Each agent is unique. Use their skills, talents, experience and personalities to set you apart from the competition. end of article

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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