Strategies for optimizing sales effectiveness

A sales representative and a client walk into an elevator. The representative exits on the second floor with a new deal in the pocket.

Is it a magic trick? Not quite.

A two-storey elevator ride or a one-sentence proposition statement is all the time a sales representative should need to sell their product, according to Mark Mulholland, associate director at the American Press Institute. Mulholland gave a lecture on the strategies for optimizing sales to 150 people at the INK+BEYOND conference on Saturday, April 30.

He said that increasing sales effectiveness isn’t magic and will take some work. “Change is hard, but it’s usually necessary and it’s almost always worth it,” Mulholland said. “Start small, but maybe more important even than that is start. Pick something. Choose something that you can begin to change and make it work.”

Mulholland outlined seven key strategies that companies can use to maximize their sales. These strategies include tailoring sales plans to specific market sizes, designing a detailed sales process, setting medium-range goals, and hiring skilled and motivated staff. The strategies can be used by any organization, of any size and in any country.

A strong value proposition is one of the most successful features that a company can have, Mulholland said. All sales staff must be able to communicate the company’s values in one short, powerful sentence. “

[The value proposition] can differentiate you from your competitors,” he said. “It really helps you gain fast and positive attention.”

But many companies that American Press Institute and its partner ZS Associates have looked at still don’t have a clear value proposition or can’t communicate it effectively. Mulholland explained that a lot of companies struggle to implement the seven strategies even when these strategies offer obvious benefits. “It’s common sense,” Mulholland said about his proposal for newspaper companies to target specific markets. “But it’s something that not every newspaper or organization has taken the time to do.”

Some companies have taken up the strategies in the past, but had to drop them as they got distracted by daily activities. “A lot of initiatives over the last five or six years that were really smart ideas, smart programs that people started with stopped abruptly because they had to put out fires,” Mulholland said.

Mulholland advised companies to consistently emphasize the seven strategies above cost-cutting to get better sales. And if staff morale ever dips – let them eat cake.

“Identify a series of short, quick wins, make them happen and then celebrate,” he said. “That’s what’s going to change the nature and the success of the organization.”

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