What is a sales force?

 With the spread of telework, partly due to the Corona disaster, the need for non-visual sales (inside sales) has increased. Companies are required to rethink what sales force is and how to strengthen it.

When we hear the word "sales," https://slimtime.co.jp/ usually think of a style of selling products and services by meeting with customers in person. However, with the reform of work styles and measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the need for non-visit sales (inside sales) is increasing.

It is precisely because of this situation that we need to reconfirm what sales is and what sales ability is.

The concept of "sales" is unique to Japan and includes many meanings such as "sales," "business," "operation," and "trade" in English. From this, it seems that sales is often used as "an activity that includes marketing, sales, and customer service in Japanese business activities.

So again, what is "sales ability"?

If "sales" refers to the multifaceted activities of marketing, sales, and customer service, then it can be defined as the ability to research and analyze the customer, think about the customer's issues and concerns from the customer's standpoint, provide the best solution, and then continue the relationship of trust.

Inside sales is where sales skills come into play.

Whether you are a door-to-door salesperson or a non-door-to-door salesperson (inside sales), your sales skills are required to be the same. In a situation where door-to-door sales cannot be conducted due to the Corona disaster, sales ability will be of great importance in corporate activities. Companies are required to strengthen their sales force by utilizing ICT tools and the power of the Internet without stopping here.

Let's take a look at the specifics of what sales force is.

Listening skills

This is the ability to listen to the problems and issues that customers are facing. Hearing is the most important process in business negotiations. It is necessary to find out not only what issues the customer is facing and what they are looking for, but also how much budget is available and who are the key people such as decision makers.

Communication skills

The communication skills of salespeople are to gain the trust of customers. It requires humility and patience to stand in the customer's shoes, to respect the other party, and to listen to every word. Communication skills can be described as the ability to make the other person feel that the salesperson will listen to his or her concerns with kindness.

Problem analysis skills

Thinking of selling your company's products or services first will not lead to solving the customer's problems. Customers are looking for a business partner who can work with them to find solutions to their own problems. What is needed is the ability to analyze issues.

If you hone your ability to analyze issues, you may be able to uncover issues that your customers themselves did not understand. As a result, they are more likely to decide to purchase your products or services.

Time management skills

In general, sales is a job that requires a lot of time away from the office. However, if you look at what is included in "outings," you will find that there is a lot of travel time and extra time before appointments. We need to make effective use of such time to improve the efficiency of our work.

You can use the extra time to research potential customers using the Internet, exchange information with members of the same team using chat rooms, and perform miscellaneous tasks such as expense accounting. It is quite possible that the ability to make such efforts will reflect on your sales performance.

Use sales tools such as SFA to strengthen your sales force.

What do you need to do to strengthen your sales force?

Now that telework is becoming more popular, what are the things that are necessary to strengthen sales force and what can be improved? Let's take a look at the company, the team, and the individual.

What the company as a whole needs to strengthen

In order to increase the productivity of telecommuting salespeople, it is necessary for companies to adapt to the online sales process.

Use online for customer follow-up and customer development.

In order to maintain and improve sales productivity while supporting telework, it is essential to make sales activities online and functional. To follow up with customers, in addition to conventional methods such as phone calls and e-mails, conduct "online business meetings" and "online product exhibitions" using web conference systems to cover the negative aspects of non-visit-based sales (inside sales).

For customer development, holding online seminars is effective. Use e-mail and other methods to actively attract potential customers.

Use satellite offices and shared offices

If you want to telework for sales activities, use satellite offices or shared offices in addition to telecommuting. The Internet environment is well maintained, and you can communicate with customers in an environment with less risk of information leakage than at home. If you can achieve both "separation of work and home" and "proximity to work and home" at the same time, you can expect to recover from the productivity loss caused by telecommuting.

Create a system for information sharing

It is said that one of the major issues in telework is "information sharing.

Teleworking makes it difficult to see the sales activities of individual employees, which is a negative for the company. For example, "Only Mr. Tanaka can know the status of the approach to Company A," and the negative effects of personalization may become apparent.

By creating a system for information sharing, smooth handover of work and appropriate approach to customers can be realized. One of the specific mechanisms for information sharing is communication tools such as business chat. For example, business chat allows you to communicate with your counterparts in real time. You can send not only text but also data such as PowerPoint documents, so there is no waste in information sharing.

Use sales support tools (SFA)

Sales Force Automation (SFA) is a support tool for sharing information related to sales activities such as customer lists, case management, forecast and actual management, daily and weekly reports, etc. in real time so that sales activities can proceed more smoothly.

It is generally part of a customer relationship management (CRM) system and records all stages of the sales process. Some can be used for project management and sales staff management, while others can be used in a telework environment, as they can track all contacts made by individual sales representatives with a particular customer, their purpose and any follow-ups required.

What should be strengthened on a team basis

There are many things that should be strengthened and improved by teams. Specifically, what are some of them?

Hold meetings on a regular basis

Information sharing within the team is essential for efficient and effective sales activities. However, there is a concern about lack of communication when teleworking. To prevent this, it is a good idea to hold regular meetings in addition to business chats and e-mails.

Online meetings using a web conferencing system are fine, but to avoid infection by the new coronavirus, consider offline meetings if you can keep a reasonable distance between members. There is a big difference in the amount of information in an offline meeting compared to a business chat or email. The fact that you can see the facial expressions and tone of voice of the members is also helpful in reconfirming teamwork.

Regular meetings are expected to have a great effect on improving your team's sales ability.

Make sure to set goals

Goal setting is essential for a team. If the goals are not clear, the team will not be able to produce results. Also, if the goals themselves are wrong, the team members will be working towards the wrong goals, and there is no denying the possibility that their efforts will be wasted.

In telework, it is necessary to set the goals carefully. The reason for this is that information sharing and communication within the team tends to be weak during telework, which can easily lead to a loss of motivation among team members. What is the goal, when should we aim to achieve it, and why do we want to achieve it? The leader needs to clarify these three points and communicate them to the members in clear terms.

Actively use online meetings.

When team members telework, it becomes difficult to hold face-to-face meetings. Sales meetings will also be held online more often.

On the other hand, online meetings have the following advantages: you don't need to arrange a location, so you can hold meetings easily; it's easy to adjust the schedules of team members when they work from home; and you don't need to pay for a venue. Online meetings can also eliminate the hurdle for sales teams that normally have difficulty meeting face-to-face due to outside travel.

Web conferencing tools can be used not only for meetings, but also for sales training, as they have recording and video functions that allow you to check back later if you miss something during the training.

What individuals should strengthen

Strengthening sales skills is not only required for companies and teams, but also for individuals. What can be done and what should be improved?

Collect information frequently.

Communication skills and the ability to analyze issues are two of the elements that make up sales skills. In order to exercise these skills, you need to have information, knowledge, and ideas that are equal to or better than those of your customers. It is important to increase your input to strengthen your sales skills.

Sources for obtaining information and knowledge include

Web sites such as newspapers and economic magazines

Blogs of economic experts, etc.


Books and other sources.

From these sources of information

Trends and future prospects of the industry including the company

Trends and future prospects of other industries, including customers

Trends in the overall macro economy

Trends in AI and other new technologies

Effective marketing methods

Try to obtain the following information.

It is recommended to read famous economic books and self-help books.

Take webinars and online training courses.

Due in part to the Corona disaster, more and more webinars and online training programs are being held.

In the past, most seminars and training sessions held outside the company were fee-based. However, with the inability to hold seminars at actual "venues", there are more and more opportunities to receive these seminars and trainings for free.

With webinars and online training, there is no need to adjust your schedule, spend money on transportation, and travel to the venue. One of the major advantages of online training is that you can take it at your own convenience, from the comfort of your own home.

To get information on webinars and online training, register as a member of the web site of an economic magazine and set up a mail magazine subscription. This way, you will receive regular announcements of seminars and other information that will help you stay informed.

Improve and enhance your talk script.

A talk script is a "script" that you prepare in advance to provide solutions to your customers' problems. A talk script is a single flow of how to start a talk, explain about products and services, develop the talk, answer the customer's questions, and close the deal.

Take advantage of telework, which eliminates most of your travel time and gives you extra time, and use it to improve and enhance your talk script. If you can polish up your talk script, you will be able to use it for non-visit sales (inside sales).

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