Small business sales challenges
Recently I met with two business associates of mine whom I have known for a few years. The story that unfolded about their business and what they have decided to do about it is something that I felt may be of interest to this audience. These two individuals were the founding principals in a professional technology services firm. They called me up to discuss their concerns about the sales side of their business. They were concerned that their revenue had fallen by 25% over the past two and one half years and that while they were holding their own; they did not see any growth in their sales forecast.
This prompted me to begin asking them questions about the sales side of their business. They proceeded to fill me in about their business and the one sales rep that they had. Seems they were not happy with the performance of the rep. Here is a quick summary of their situation:
• Revenues had dropped from $4.2M to $3.1M
• They have employed one sales rep for the past two years whose responsibility was to find NEW business, new logos
• In the past two years, this rep had brought in NO new logos although he did close new business from existing clients
• The founders had no job description for this position – no way to measure his performance
• There was no regular sales pipeline of funnel reviews in place
Hmmmmmm. After I heard the above, I asked them what their expectations were of their rep. Their response: “We want him to find new business!” I asked, “How are you equipping him to find new logos? How are you coaching and mentoring him to develop his ability to find new business?” Their response was that they did not offer any coaching or mentoring. In fact, they admitted that they were not really skilled at the sales end of the business and did not know how to manage a sales team.
Establishing a Sales Culture
After a couple of hours of discussion, I summarized my thoughts to them and felt that these thoughts may be beneficial to the other small business owners that follow this blog.
My overlying comment was that they had not established a sales culture in their company. These two individuals, who were the founding principals, were good at what they did – technology consulting. They started with a large client and basically grew by referrals. Over the years, they set up all the normal business systems – billing, operations, even marketing, but not sales. A critical point I made to them was that until they grew to a size that substantiates having a full time sales leader, they needed to include the sales leadership role as a part of their responsibilities. This applies to all small business owners.
So what does one do?
I have set out to work with this client to help them establish the sales environment. Here is what I am doing and recommend that you do to build a sales culture in your business.
• Define the role of sales in your business as you would any other major function of the business
• Develop a sales representative job description that reflects your expectations of the position. Is this a farmer? Is this a hunter? Is the role focused on business development? Make it clear.
• Establish a sales process to track the sales opportunities that develop. This does not have to be complicated but does need to be focused on how your customer buys from you.
• Establish a regular review of the sales business.
• Define your target market. Who most benefits from your offering?
• Define the value your offering provides to your target market. How does your offering improve their business?
While I could expand this list significantly, this is a great start to improving your focus on building the sales culture in your business. If you are unsure of how to put any of these items together, seek help. It is critical to your business success.