12 Feb 5 Tips for Quick Sales Transformation
So here’s the scenario, sales are down and profits are falling, the business isn’t seeing the return on sales efforts and the board wants it fixed NOW!
The answer? Tip the whole sales team on its head, restructure, remodel, rework the comps plan, add more sales people and change the way the business sells, after all these MUST be the problems, so changing them MUST be the answer, right?
BUT what often actually happens is the model is changed, more people are added, the comps plan is re-worked and NOTHING CHANGES!! Performance stays the same or worse still declines, and then good sales people start to leave and the problem has doubled. “What do we do now?”
This is a pattern I see repeatedly. And here’s the thing. It might not need such a dramatic approach.
A number of years ago I worked with Panasonic, famous for their use of Kaizen lean principles. Kaizen is one of the most practical eastern philosophies for attaining corporate success.
Operations within a Kaizen environment will seek to continually improve by observing production activities to reduce or remove waste or non-value adding steps in processes.
Within Panasonic’s factories, everything is set up to improve efficiency by reducing wasted time and effort. Unnecessary processes are removed or re-worked and the layout of the factory is planned to ensure no time is wasted. Even the distance from a worker to a toilet is considered to ensure that time working on production is maximized, down to the second.
So how is this relevant to sales?
Your sales team are the number one revenue generating capability within your organisation and as sales activity is the BIGGEST predicator of sales success, it makes sense that your sales teams focus should be on active selling and all non-value adding or waste should either be reduced or removed, would you agree?
So let me ask you this? How many hours a week are your sales team ACTUALLY focused on revenue generating active selling, and by active I mean either meeting customers, prospecting for business and focused on moving opportunities through the pipeline?
The following is what I discover with pretty much EVERY sales organisation I’ve worked for or with;
The company isn’t performing as needed, and the sales people are only spending 20-25% of their time actively selling. The rest of their time is spent filling in spreadsheets (a good indicator that the CRM isn’t fit for purpose), putting out fires, dealing with long-winded admin processes such as generating orders and quotations, or a number of other activities that take their time and attention away from focusing on actively selling to increase sales and profitability for the company.
What would the impact on sales performance be if your team were actively selling for 50% of their time, how about 70%?
The next thing I witness is talented sales managers – who have a wealth of experience, wisdom and knowledge to impart to their team members – tied to desks and bogged down with admin, customer issues, service and delivery issues, and pretty much anything the business wants to throw at them. They are glorified customer service agents. This is insane, not to mention a VERY expensive way of getting admin done.
I’m astounded to find that, in many cases sales managers NEVER spend any time in the field or coaching their teams, NOT EVER!
What would the impact on sales performance be if your sales managers were focused on supporting and developing sales teams in the field , coaching them to be better, imparting their knowledge and wisdom to create a better sales team and better sales capability, rather than being stuck in an office?
What I’m alluding to is that your sales performance challenges may not be quite what you think, and some simpler solutions may yield better results.
So here are my 5 tips for quick sales transformation;
1. Free up your sales people to focus on selling and increasing revenue generating activity, it will have a significant impact on your performance, so it makes sense to find out WHAT your sales people spend their time doing and then fix it.
• If they are tied up with admin tasks that could be done by someone else, get them admin support.
• If they are firefighting and dealing with issues, create a support function that can alleviate this
• If they are filing in spreadsheets or using them to manage their pipeline and daily activities, get them a CRM that works
In short, do whatever is needed to free up their time so they are focused on finding great opportunities and selling to customers.
2. Sales Managers have often been successful sales people themselves and know what it takes to get results, they have a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills that will increase your team’s ability to sell, release them from their desk jobs and send them out into the field to coach and support your sales team. This is where they can add the most value and can impact performance directly.
3. Create product training that is beneficial for sales people, not overloaded with product information. What sales people need to know is why the customer needs the product or services and how it can add value to their business, feature blasting never produces results!
4. Give your team a sales process that is simple and easy to use and focuses on customer-centricity and selling business value, encourage them to share knowledge and insight to customers and facilitate the buying process, helping the customer to buy rather than desperately trying to ‘sell’ to them.
5. Give your team the tools to do the job, don’t make it difficult for them by expecting them to use a CRM system that’s outdated and doesn’t work for the team or worse still, use the dreaded spreadsheet!! From demand generation and guided selling to CRM – in today’s technological age there are literally thousands of great apps to assist in every part of the sales process – Hubspot, Showpad and Pipedrive are just some of my favorites that give sales teams the tools needed to succeed and worth taking a look if you’re not ready to make an investment in heavyweights like Salesforce.
So there you have it, the message is simple.
Often transformation doesn’t need dramatic overhauls and grand gestures to work. It’s not rocket science it’s common sense – right people, right training, right tools, right support, right use of time.. BINGO!!!
Your sales team only have limited revenue generating hours every day, maximise them by giving them the right tools, support and training, release your managers from their desk jobs to coach them and find a more cost-effective way of dealing with admin tasks and customer issues that take up time, you just might be astounded by the results.
No restructure needed.
You can thank me later…
At S-Academy we have developed a systematic approach for diagnosing and solving sales challenges. With expertise gained from world leading sales organization such as Cisco and FedEx, we know how to build high-calibre, high-performing sales teams that produce consistent results.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your business drop us an email or call Anna on +44 (0) 7495 733612
About the author:
Anna Ashton is an award-winning sales strategist, author and professional problem solver with more than 20 years’ experience gained at the coal-face of international sales. She knows what it takes to be a top performer. Anna works with board executives and sales leaders to dramatically improve the performance of their sales organisations – particularly when it comes to creating winning sales strategies, motivating sales teams and developing new business.
Anna is Managing Director of S-Academy and can be contacted through her business networking site at https://www.linkedin.com/in/annaashton, visiting her business website at www.s-academy.co.uk or emailing her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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