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Diagnose Your Sales Dilemma
Diagnosing the root cause of slow sales is always the right prescription
Every business has peaks and valleys in its sales cycle, but there are times where sales take a continued decline and provide a huge impact on the bottom line. If you are in sales then you have to admit the awful truth that some months' sales are just going to flag. Not everyone can be “up” all the time. These natural peaks and valleys can be the result of a number of factors ranging from the economy, to the environment, to even a prolonged teacher’s strike. Anything that impacts your customer base’s budget will have a natural impact on sales numbers. That is what we are taught in sales 101, but what happens when these factors are not cause of decreased sales? What if the problem is internal? How does a CEO or Manager determine which internal factors are impacting the sales of a company?
The natural thing for a CEO or manager to do would be to pull staff together and ask the simple question ”Why are the sales numbers so poor this month”? Ask that question and wait for excuses to start flying across the table. “My pipeline dried up”, “I simply can’t sell in this town”, “There is no money in my territory”, “Marketing is horrible and is not producing enough leads”, or “Operations shut down my sale”. There will be as many excuses as there are people sitting at the table, and taking this approach to curing a sick sales pipeline is totally the wrong approach because no one at the table will step back and look at the bigger picture. Everyone at that table is way too close to the problem to see the larger process is broken and needs to be fixed. What needs to happen next is actually an extremely simple step, but it is often the hardest to do and that is to admit that there is a problem.
When I teach people how to improve their sales pipeline I like to tell
them to think of their company as a living thing, which is essentially
what any company is. It is a collection of systems and moving parts
that make up a larger organism. For this purpose we will imagine
that the company is an athlete who has sustained an injury. Let’s
make this person a body builder for all intents and purposes.
Like a business, bodybuilders are unique athletes who utilize a variety
of exercises to build their muscles and hone them to perfection.
Much like a business will utilize a variety of techniques and
strategies to build an effective sales pipeline.
When a bodybuilder sustains a back injury that body builder can’t effectively focus on winning a competition because they are too focused on the pain that they are experiencing. A business with poor monthly sales can’t possibly focus on effectively closing sales because there is too much pain from not having enough sales in the pipeline, and just like an athlete that sustains an injury, the first thing is to stop everything and do a primary assessment.
A first responder does a primary assessment of an injured person to determine where the pain is, and that is exactly what a CEO, or manager, needs to do when sales are down- find out where the pain is.
This is often a lengthy process that is sometimes best completed by an
outside consultant, because just like a bodybuilder, CEOs and managers
often think that they can continue to compete. That is completely
not the truth. Once a sales pipeline is hurting, finding out what
the source of the pain is, and then taking steps to treat the pain is
the only workable solution. The bodybuilder might be able to
bench 300 pounds and “fight through the pain”, but they know that they
will be in twice as much pain later. Any business that is in twice as
much pain from a poor sales pipeline will be closing its doors soon
Let’s look at some steps for stopping the pain, and getting back into competition.
In closing fixing a poor sales funnel is easy if you know what to look for; the biggest step is admitting that there is an internal problem. As a CEO/manager it is never a person, it is all about the business, and that needs to be communicated to sales people. Sales people have egos and get defensive, so always bring the facts. If salespeople are performing poorly it is because that is what management is allowing, and sometimes empowering them to do. There is not a sales person in the world that will not work with management to improve the bottom line. Business is business, and sales people want to make money. The trick for a manager is to provide them the proper inspiration, motivation, and incentive to do so. Sometimes sale people just need to get reminded where it is, and what we are shooting for.
Pushing harder and increasing sales is the end goal of this article,
but the main goal is to get managers to think about the reasons that
their account managers give for not achieving quota. I cut my
teeth under some true professionals, and they never once put the blame
for not making quota on anyone but themselves. They very calmly
said that they failed to achieve quota and here was the plan for next
month. Their confidence inspired respect, and I gladly gave it
because they understood that while you may treat the bottom line,
ultimately improving sales is a cure for the long run and that takes
work, determination and the will to win.
No injury is overcome without hard work and the will to improve. The challenge that we face is managers' not understanding the big picture. Once a company defines where it needs to go, then sales people know what their targets are and can provide true customer satisfaction. That in itself is what every company is trying to achieve -customer satisfaction.
I hope that the tips and tricks that are displayed above are helpful,
and that everyone in the BAS space takes a moment to evaluate their
sales force’s needs. Sometimes a minor tweak can nurture maximum
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