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Business confidence has plummeted across the UK (especially in the North East) in August, according to new data from Lloyd’s Bank’s Business Barometer (published in the Bdaily this morning).
The usual suspects will undoubtedly be cited by most – Brexit turmoil, decline of the pound, time of the year etc.
Whilst political, economic and seasonal factors of course have some baring on businesses, confidence should derive from businesses themselves, not external factors.
The best way to build confidence in a business is through solid sales performance.
After all, let’s not forgot that businesses exist to make money. And nothing increases confidence more than consistent, predictable sales.
Here are the three areas that underpin both business confidence and performance:
1) People – attracting and developing sales talent is absolutely crucial – people who are not afraid to pick up the phone, who can understand prospects’ challenges and how their products and/or services can help or not (Business Fit, Business Value is our #1 Sales Mantra), but more importantly, people who can close deals.
The problem is that good sales people rarely look for other roles. Usually, they must be enticed and headhunted.
Nonetheless, sales shouldn’t just be down to your sales people – most if not all colleagues must have a commercial mindset and be able to recognise, understand and qualify potential prospects.
2) Process – you must have a consistent sales process and ensure everyone understands and adheres to. You must have a clear qualification criteria and system for scoring leads and opportunities – who does what when?
What and how much information do you need before you will consider drafting and sending a proposal (if at all?).
Why has the prospect got in touch or responded to your activity? What are their real challenges?
What would happen if they did nothing?
Having a streamlined process and rigorous qualification criteria means you can be confident that you are spending time where you can be most effective (Quality x Quantity x Consistency = High Performance is our fifth Sales Mantra).
3) Pipeline – the most important of all, that everything feeds into. Having an accurate, burgeoning sales pipeline is imperative for cash flow, business planning and of course – confidence!
How many leads have been generated this week? Month? Quarter?
Which stage of the sales process are they at?
Which ones need to be nurtured and how?
Which are due to close and when? Your pipeline should be full.
This requires continuous, systematic prospecting activities.
Research from the National Sales Executive shows that 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact attempt, yet only 10% of sales people make more than three contact attempts.
Having more people to see than you have time to see is a great way to build business confidence.
The challenge is that most people hate prospecting! You don’t have to enjoy doing it. You don’t even have to do it in-house. It just has to be done consistently and effectively.
Business confidence is an intangible concept in many ways, but it’s underpinned by tangible factors.
Most of these factors are under your control. If you master your people, process and pipeline, both confidence and performance will improve.
It may come as no surprise to learn that durhamlane can help with all of the above, having consistently bucked this trend by our recent growth. We’re selective on who we take on, but get in touch for an initial exploratory conversation.