“Don’t put the cart before the horse.”
This age-old analogy often becomes a reality when a company’s sales have slowed, and new leads are not being generated. A quick, and instinctive reaction for business owners is to provide the sales team with additional training as the solution to the problem. Unfortunately, this way of thinking is not an effective long-term solution to the bigger issue at hand.
Think about when a new house is being built. What is the first thing that must be laid down properly for the rest of the house to be built to last? The foundation. It is the most important step of any house or structure being built because without a solid foundation, the house will crumble over time.
Business owners who build and develop their company around basic house-building methodology are poised for scalable growth. A strong and solid foundation within an organization will lead to success. There are four cornerstones that make up the foundation of the company:
- the strategy
- the process
- the people
- and the tools
If any of these are weak, something like training will only temporarily patch the real problem. Getting to the root of the problem is the only solution to stabilize and strengthen a business’ foundation. Let’s apply how these four cornerstones function in your business’ sales organization:
Establish a Solid Sales Strategy
Sales strategy is meant to provide a sales team with a documented plan that clarifies how your products and services solve specific pain points for qualified buyers. A robust strategy should equip salespeople with an understanding of the different types of buyers they’ll encounter, what their challenges and objections are and how your solution is different from the competition.
Without a clearly aligned strategy, it’s left up to each individual salesperson to chart their own path. Even with talented salespeople, a business can hinder its own growth if everyone is not working from a common blueprint. Equipping a sales team with a clear strategy enables salespeople to boldly pursue profitable growth. Salespeople can then efficiently focus their time and your resources on the best fit opportunities to grow your business.
Understand and Create the Process
Time needs to be spent to discover the root cause of the sales team’s most pressing challenges. Evaluate the full customer life cycle and see where successes and failures occur, such as if enough time is spent nurturing clients before they have readiness to be ushered through the Sales Process. Then, dig into the Sales Process to ensure it enables the salespeople to effectively navigate the Customer Acquisition stage of the life cycle.
Establishing a repeatable sales process with key objectives for each sales stage will provide your sales team with the structure they need to achieve predictable results. This will develop consistency in messaging, sales stage advancement, and ability to successfully lead the customer to a natural close. An effective sales process will evolve as sales metrics are evaluated, or market conditions change. Creating a unified sales process customized to your unique sales environment is the start in streamlining the path to a sale.
Analyzing the People
The core of a business lies within its people. It is easy to pull and evaluate reports for the sales reps and sales team leaders to see who is effective in producing results. However, the metrics are not always the black and white answer, with several other factors to consider. Evaluate the person to make sure they are the correct type of talent to fit the role and that they fit the company culture. If they are a fit, then the implementation of processes and additional training or retraining can help lead these representatives to success.
This is a difficult evaluation because if the person is not the right fit for the role, in the end, it will be best to look at where else they may best serve your business or cut ties. Training a person that is not right for the role and company is not an effective solution. During this evaluation, a business owner must be completely objective if the person was set up for success, or if the failure isn’t in the person, but due to a limited sales foundation. Sometimes, it is best to use an outside source to look at how team members are functioning in their roles to get a clear picture of current state.
The Tools for Success
When a company implements a well-rounded onboarding process, it serves as a platform for success. It’s critical to train on established processes and sales tools, company history, how departments interact, as well as full immersion into product knowledge. Even with the right tools and right people in place, salespeople, even strong performers, must learn to walk before they can run.
Additional development, coaching, and ongoing training are also important to ensure the sales team is positioned to achieve company sales goals on a long-term basis. Changing market conditions and increasing company goals require them to continually evolve their skills to be equipped to achieve higher levels of performance.
Much like a house, even if it is discovered that a business’ sales foundation is failing, there are ways that it can be properly repaired to make it structurally sound again. The ability to recognize organizational fractures as they gradually occur is not an easy task for a business owner. Often, an experienced, outside sales consultant is the best tool an owner can invest in. With a fresh perspective on the business, layered with a wealth of diversified industry experience, this resource can help analyze the business’ foundation without bias to recognize gaps and provide insight on how to resolve them.
Assess your sales foundation by taking this self-directed 10-question Sales Agility Assessment and receive a no-cost comprehensive report to expose vulnerable areas.