For most businesses the sectors into which they sell have changed over the past five to seven years.
The markets have contracted, it is tougher to get prospects to spend money, and competition has intensified over the few remaining opportunities that present themselves.
So, to survive this ‘changing of the times’, companies not only need to re-think their sales strategies, they also need to communicate the new strategies to entire sales force to get understanding and alignment, and then of course successfully execute the plan.
It is surprising that a lot of companies we assist don’t actually have agreement between what the MD, CEO and Sales Manager’s think the strategies are. And if sales strategies are not aligned, it sends mixed signals to the salespeople, and the sales manager tends to spend more time resolving conflicts instead of growing the business.
The key to an effective sales strategy is execution. This comes from providing salespeople with clarity of the sales objectives, holding them accountable to the activities that support the strategies, and making sure that any discomforts with the strategies are uncovered and dealt with.
Here are a few examples:
If your strategy is to grow market share…
Research shows that it takes 7-12 touch points to a new prospect for them to even remember who you are, so:
- How many times do your salespeople make contact before giving up on a prospect?
- Are your salespeople capable of handling ‘fob-offs’ from prospects i.e. “we are happy with our current supplier” or “we’re okay”.
- Are your Account Managers capable of hunting for new business?
If your strategy is to sell more to existing customers…
Research indicates that if you’re not calling on your customers every 90 days, they are no longer your customers, so:
- How well are your salespeople managing their territories?
- Are they calling on the right people (decision makers) or are they calling on people they are comfortable with?
- Are they building strong business relationships or just personal ones?
If your strategy is to uphold margins…
- Are your salespeople comfortable asking tough questions to identify the prospects pain and magnify the impact of the problem in order to sell on value?
- Do they have a money weakness and cave in when customers apply a little pressure and want a discount?
If your strategy is to train and develop existing salespeople to support your strategies…
- Do you know if your salespeople are trainable, and how much investment it will take to get them up to the required level?
- Or would it be more cost effective to recruit salespeople who can support the current strategies?
If any company wants to have a successful, full sales pipeline, then being very clear about the factors mentioned above is critical. If your sales team don’t understand the strategy that’s in place to grow the business, then there is little chance they will be able to work towards achieving the right outcomes.