Historically, we have considered two ways to increase sales: add more salespeople, or improve the effectiveness of those we have.
Equally important is spending time on the right stuff. We often hear “my sales team is not spending enough time pursuing new prospects.” Salespeople, like most of us, tend to take the path of least resistance. Let’s be sure we all know what’s important, provide necessary information and remain focused.
Look at these areas to help uncover problem areas in your sales organization. Address these and be well on your way to improving sales performance.
- Do you have the right people on the bus? If you have always hired industry veterans, it may be time to move to experienced salespeople regardless of industry experience. Teaching product is often easier and more effective than teaching selling.
- Are salespeople armed with proper information? Profile your ideal customer and make sure salespeople are pursuing prospects that match that profile. Understand the needs that your new product addresses and provide salespeople with supporting data.
- Do salespeople have appropriate levels of knowledge to successfully sell? Expecting someone who has never been on farm to successfully sell barn cleaners is just plain stupid. Expecting someone accustomed to a one call close to successfully sell capital equipment is equally dumb. Invest in specific product and relative sales training.
- How much time is available? If your salespeople have books of business that provide no time for finding and developing new customers consider a re-organization. Expecting new customer acquisition when your salespeople spend all day servicing existing accounts is a recipe for failure. It may be time to divide your team into a new business development group and an account management group.
- Are your priorities clear? Management needs to be abundantly clear on their objectives. Whether it be a new product introduction, or new customer acquisition, make sure you establish goals and track metrics that drive sales to meet that objective.
- Does your compensation plan drive desired behavior? Uncover what motivates your salespeople. For some it’s money, for others it’s recognition. Maybe it isn’t the same for all. Tailor your plan to meet their desires.
While these seem simple and obvious, they are often completely missed. In other cases, they are acknowledged and just neglected. Revisiting these areas annually will help you remain focused on what’s important and help you adjust to a changing environment.