Debra was flustered. She had taken over a business with the intent of growing it but had come to the realization that increasing the sales might be easier said than done. In fact, now that she had acquired the company, she recognized that because of the added overhead of her current operations, sales would have to grow 50% from their current revenue to ensure that the business was profitable.
Increasing sales in itself is not hard, most businesses probably grow organically from referrals at a few percentage points each and every year. This is fine if your referrals are greater than your loss of customers due to attrition. However, if you want to grow your sales in the double digits, as Debra does, there are some basic steps that you need to implement.
1. Have a Plan: It's amazing how many companies don’t have a basic sales plan. Sales plans typically have three parts.
Goals: Clarity about what we are trying to achieve. What does winning in sales mean? What is the target we are trying to hit? Are we focused on selling a specific product or service or everything in general?
Strategy: How are we going to win? This includes the overarching framework of where we are going to focus over the upcoming time period to achieve our goals. This might include focusing on the strengths we have over our competition, specific markets we are going to target, or a technique we are going to employ
Tactics: This is the nitty gritty about how we are going to implement the strategy. We want to break down the steps necessary for succeeding and put them into time frames as well as attach responsibilities to them.
2. Be Accountable: Most companies forget to keep people accountable for achieving goals, meeting timelines and getting stuff done. It’s great to have a sales plan, but if that plan isn’t implemented in a timely fashion, sales will flounder. We want to have specific targets for our sales teams as a whole but also for specific sales people. We should be looking at keeping people accountable for setting a number of meetings, phone calls, and new and existing customer contacts.
3. Change it up: So often we see companies that run the same campaign month after month, year after year. While this might work for some companies, chances are it won’t work for you. Not only will your customers get bored with your sales campaigns, you will too. In order to succeed we need to be creative with our sales. To do this we need to pick different products or services to focus on at different times of the year. If you only have a couple products you might want to think about focusing on different markets or demographics, different customer needs or a variety of campaigns. To be successful in sales we want to have our teams incentivised to succeed with a variety of spiffs, contests or opportunities to succeed. Changing it up gives new energy to our sales force. As they say “Variety is the spice of life.”
Unfortunately, many businesses will implement one of the three suggestions and hope that they are going to grow their sales substantially. The reality is that unless the three components are used synergistically, sales growth rarely happens. Debra will grow her sales because she is implementing a plan, holding her team accountable and changing it up. How about you?
Dave Fuller, MBA is an Award-Winning Business Coach and the author of the book “Profit Yourself Healthy”. Slumping sales? Email firstname.lastname@example.org