Who will sell your products or services
To have an effective sales process you'll need to know who your customers are and how they prefer to buy. Customers often show a preference for buying specific goods and services in a certain way, for example buying stationery supplies online, booking travel arrangements over the phone, buying hi-spec IT equipment via a specialist retailer.
Direct sales or indirect sales
One of the most fundamental decisions you need to make is whether to use a ‘direct’ or an ‘indirect’ sales model.
‘Direct selling’ or a ‘direct sales force’ is where you employ your own staff and have direct management and control over who's doing the selling and how. ‘Indirect selling’ or an ‘indirect sales force’ is where you out-source the sales activity to an individual or another organisation who, under contract, sells your product or service using its own staff and resources.
It’s not unusual to choose a combination of channels, sometimes temporarily to test which is the most effective. Using multiple sales channels and channel partners can be very effective but it needs careful management if you’re going to get maximum benefit with the minimum amount of conflict.
Sales incentive schemes
Having multiple sales channels often causes disputes over who gets the commission on a particular sale. So put an incentive scheme in place that encourages your teams to sell only what you want them to sell and who you want them to sell it to. Set fair but stretching sales targets and add extra incentives for if these targets are exceeded.
For example if you have a policy that only your direct sales force sells to key accounts you should provide sales agents with a ‘hands off’ list of customers they mustn't approach. Make sure you have a way of blocking commission payments for any restrictions you put in place though as any sales person worth their salt will work out very quickly that they'll get paid anyway!
At the end of the day your sales channels are there to sell so you don't want them distracted by arguing over payment. To minimise any sales channel conflict give very clear instructions and boundaries so each person in the sales process can go and sell, in the sound knowledge that they'll get compensated for a job well done.
Sales analysis and performance monitoring
Whichever channels you use, make sure you regularly review performance against targets to ensure they're a cost-effective and productive way to sell. Put systems in place, such as having different phone numbers for each team or sales campaign
, so you can analyse sales performance to show the sales revenue each of them has achieved, and a way of analysing what is costs to support each one. The person/team/agent who earns the most sales may not prove to be the most profitable!
It's important that you maintain balance and control over how, where and when your products are sold so make sure you have a sales agency or employment contract in place that includes a review clause and a termination clause. That way you're free to terminate the contract if the sales performance is not up to standard.