In sales, time is money. When your livelihood depends completely on your sales commissions as an independent rep, it’s crucial to be constantly finding ways to improve and streamline your sales process.
We’ve seen thousands of internal and external sales reps use digital tools like sales order management software to save time and work faster, transforming their businesses and ultimately making more sales. After digitizing many of their formerly manual processes, they see more customers in a day, sell more product, and end up providing better customer service.
Here are some ways to make the most out of each day on the road:
Set specific goals for each customer interaction.
Before going into a meeting with a buyer, set goals for what you’d like to get out of the visit. What are the easy re-orders that you know you can get out of the way quickly? What new products do you want to push? What are the products you think they’d be most likely to add to their assortment? Having a game plan will allow you to steer the conversation effectively.
Much of this has to do with coming prepared with certain information–namely, the customer’s past order history. Knowing in advance what kinds of products your retailers normally buy opens up the opportunity for you to quickly and efficiently suggest a list of products that they’d be likely to add to their order, rather than spending time flipping through your product catalogs and lingering unnecessarily over items that don’t fit into their assortment.
Look for tools that will help you organize this information. Great sales order management software tools will allow you to use a digital catalog and store customer information (including past order history, most frequently ordered items, etc.) in an easy-to-navigate mobile database.
Plan your route in advance.
This is another important piece of prep work. Efficient route planning can save you a lot of time in a day. When making your sales appointments, try to schedule them so that you’re not wasting too much time en route from place to place. There are easy, quick ways to do this, with travel applications and mapping software like TripIt and Sales Navigator.
Digitize your product catalog.
With several software options available to help digitize your product catalog, you should no longer have to be hindered by cumbersome product samples and paper catalogs. These are troublesome both to carry into sales appointments and to actually sell from.
Digital catalogs allow you to stop searching for page numbers and squinting at SKUs in tiny text on a page, and instead scroll through a visually rich, easily navigable product database. This is the most efficient way to present products to a buyer, and you’ll end up putting more product in front of them than you would have with the paper catalog and sample method.
Eliminate complicated order entry processes.
This is probably the biggest time waster of all. Though every independent rep’s order entry process varies–whether it involves a fax machine, excel sheet, phone calls, emails, and/or a backend database–they are usually drawn out by delays, causing product to get shipped out later. The work involved in submitting these orders also translates to less time in which you, the sales rep, can make sales.
Take control of this process to speed up fulfillment times and stamp out unnecessary busy work. Sales order management software applications can make a huge difference, allowing you to send out an order to the retailer and your brand immediately after it’s been written. You can move on to your next store visit without having to worry about entering that order for fulfillment later.
Increasing your sales numbers can be a struggle in today’s hyper-competitive market. In order to capture more customers and retain your old ones, streamlining your sales process isn’t just preferred–it’s necessary.
By moving faster, you’ll waste less time and allocate those hours to the things that’ll actually have an impact on your commission–making more appointments, having more meaningful conversations with customers, and selling products for your manufacturers.
Sarah Leung is Content Marketing Specialist at Handshake, where she creates high-impact sales, marketing, and technology-related content for wholesale brands. When she’s not writing, she’s talking with sales reps, sales managers, and other industry professionals to source new topics of interest and further understand how Handshake has helped them increase sales and build their businesses.