Selling by Objectives
Planning and preparation are the keys to success in selling. In order to plan effectively, you need to establish the result that you are aiming for - your objectives - which must fit the ‘SMART’ parameters.
Selling by Objectives is a simple planning discipline which operates at two levels:
• Overall performance objectives
• Individual call objectives.
The principle behind them both is the same - if you have a clear objective in mind you will work more efficiently than if you have no objective in mind.
Overall performance objectives
You should have clear annual objectives (preferably agreed with your manager, but if not, set them for yourself) which are expressed in terms such as:
• Total sales
• Sales within product groups
• Sales in certain areas of territory
• Sales to certain categories of client
• Total profit from your territory
• New accounts opened
• Average order value
or any other combination of them.
Break these down into quarterly and/or monthly targets allowing for seasonal fluctuations in your business, your own holiday periods, the number of selling days available allowing for bank holidays etc.
Individual call objectives
It is rare in today’s business environment for every call to result in an order; indeed, in many areas of commerce it is common to have to make a number of visits without making a sale. This factor, coupled with the increasing workload that most buyers suffer, makes it essential for the Sales Professional to be clear about the reason for each meeting, and what they are wanting to achieve from it, and to ensure that all attending are equally aware.
Recently there has been a major rationalisation of management roles within industry and commerce, resulting in individuals having little or no time to waste.
The progression from the beginning of the sales process to its ultimate objective can be likened to a staircase, with each upward step requiring information from, and the agreement of, the customer. Missing steps out can be dangerous!
There are, therefore, two types of objective that need setting - and both must be clearly defined before making the call. These are:
• Information seeking objectives (What do you need to find out?)
• Decision based objectives (What do you want to obtain agreement to?)
Your decision based objectives will ensure that your customer will know that they’re not having their time wasted, and that you won’t be wasting your time. To allow the best possible chance of reaching your objectives, your presentation should always follow a clear structure.
Examples of objectives
"To obtain information about.....":
• Needs/potential needs
• How need is currently being satisfied
• Which competitors are being used or considered
• Perceived advantages and disadvantages of competitors
• Budget levels or constraints
• Budget timings and financial years
• Creditworthiness and ability to pay
• Results of tests (on sample)
• Individual reactions to test results
• Why business has been lost
• Who has been given business and why
• Prices quoted by competitors
• What other opportunities in same company/group
• Other people who could be contacted
• Why orders are at current levels
• Why quotation has been rejected
• Future volume requirements
• Who is involved in decision making or influencing
• What staff changes have taken place
• What staff changes are likely to take place and when
• Terms and conditions on which orders are placed
• Order placing procedures
• Account settlement procedures
• What organisation’s present overall priority is
• What growth plans there are
• Performance of past products/services supplied
• Satisfaction levels in different parts of the organisation.
"To gain agreement to....":
• Further appointment
• Appointment with another decision-maker or influencer
• Specify product/service in future
• Place initial order or trial order
• Place repeat order
• Try new line
• Evaluate product/service by test or trial
• Recommended purchase to someone else
• Factory visit by customer
• Another customer visiting his factory
• Persuade decision-maker to attend demonstration
• Move/improve display
• Conduct survey or audit
• Present survey report or audit recommendation
• Open an account
• Install new accounts procedures
• Agree delivery schedules
• Regular order
• Forward/bulk order
• Quotation being submitted
• Amend and resubmit quotation
• Place on tender list
• Visit exhibition/promotion
• Continue ordering following problem
• Continue ordering at different prices
• Give a reference
• Change specification or switch to new product/service
• Training of users or operators
• Supply samples.