1. Commitment to development of Sales Competencies. It will be very difficult to achieve better results in 2016 using the same level of competencies you used in the last year. It will be more important to improve the skills, knowledge and motivation of the sales people and managers to be able to excel in a tougher market situation. It will be critical to focus on competency development through coaching and effective training.
Probably, this will be the single most important factor that will determine your 2016 sales success or lack of it. Most firms have been operating without one. But in a situation where it is harder and more expensive to get a top performing sales person as it will be in 2016 ;it will be like attempting to swim wearing a heavy woolen jacket. But as the economy becomes tougher and competition stiffer even with the best sales people in your team you will need to have one that is followed to the letter.
3. Hire, develop and keep highly optimistic sales people and sustain positive attitude throughout the year. The most successful sales people have very optimistic world view. Various studies have shown optimistic sales people sell more and stay longer in a sales job. One of the studies showed that optimistic sales people outsell their pessimistic colleagues by 300%.
4. Customer Focused Selling Approaches: When there is so much news of real or perceived economic slowdown it becomes ten times more important to adopt customer focused sales approaches. The customers will not want to spend one more penny than necessary to solve their problems. It is then important for the sales person to have almost flawless ability to identify the customer's pain (or pleasure points) and match the attributes and advantages of what you are selling to these pains (and pleasures).
5. Positive Price Communication: In 2016 buyers will ask tougher questions related to price and they will base many of their buying decisions on price. They will actually try to live with their problems than spend to solve them which will mean that one of the biggest price competitors to a salesperson will be status quo. Therefore, it will be necessary for the salesperson to communicate his prices in the best positive way possible. Whether this communication is in verbal presentations or written proposals and quotations it will need to be in a format that gets the customer to see more value than cost otherwise forget the sale. In-fact the value should prove that the person will lose by maintaining the status quo.
6. Account Management: Many organizations get at least 60% of their sales from existing customers. But this is the year that most of these customers will become more open to propositions from competition (especially if they are less than excited about your handling them). As you think how to excel in 2016 the first set decisions you need to make are on how to handle existing customers as the foundation of your business.
If you have built good relationships with your customers 2016 is the year to get most out of them since they will tend to be more conservative in their experimentation. But for those who have been unreliable you better clean up your mess immediately since your unreliability will be scrutinized more and found to have more negative effect than you can imagine. Unreliable sellers can have only one reprieve sell on lower prices for some time.