Look, let’s face it, it’s much too easy to blame the salespeople for a lack of sales. So many times, I have heard frustrated operations people blame the sales team for a lack of adequate bookings. But ironically, if their sales team starts booking more sales, they will say that the sales team just got lucky and that they did not have much to do with the increase in sales.
Really? So, the sales people are fully responsible when the numbers are down, but they are not responsible when the numbers are up? Come on, how does that work?
What I do know is that sales is a team effort. Those proverbial light bulbs have to work if you are going to successfully sell them.
And you have to deliver them on time every time if your customers for those light bulbs are going to keep buying from you.
And then again from the sales team’s point of view, if the product is not reliable, if the company’s motto happens to be “we’re not worse than anyone else,” then the salespeople are going to have a pretty hard time making those sales go up.
True story: when I was a much younger and “smarter” salesperson I was in a sales meeting where the owner of the company was beating the heck out of us because we kept bringing in opportunities for products the shop could not build.
And after he was done ranting and fist pounding and yelling,” from now on you guys get out there and find some business that we can build!”
I piped up, “Oh, you mean poor quality boards that we can’t deliver on time?” It’s a good thing this guy had a sense of humor because after looking at me like he was going to kill me, he sat down and laughed, pointed his finger at me and said, “Okay that’s funny.”
But still I made my point and from that day on we started working together as a team. We dumped that counterproductive mentality and we all started rowing in the same direction.
From that time so long ago and so far away , this is what we did.
- We developed our ideal customer profile. We discussed who our best customers were, why they liked working with us and why we liked working with them. We took into consideration what their end product was, what technology they required from us, and why it all worked. We even reached out to them asking them what it was about our company that made them like working with us.
- After gathering that information, we created a strategic sales plan targeting companies that were similar to the customers we preferred working with and more importantly who liked working with us. We developed sales tactics including step by step plans to go after those target accounts.
- We also developed and implemented a marketing plan focused on attracting the right customer to work with our company. Remember a good marketing plan is designed to let potential customers know what your company does, and what you can do for them. A good marketing plan will go a long way to making your potential customers actually want to meet with your sales people.
- We developed a system to measure our progress. We made a list of our target accounts including the amount of business we could expect from them. We took this information and developed an account by account, month by month forecast that we tracked daily by using a simple one page dashboard so that by the end of each day everyone in the company knew where we were with each customer for that month and the year. It was also a valuable tool to let the salespeople know how they were doing against their forecast and could do something about it if their numbers were down. It also gave great visibility to the ops team in terms of being able to control the production, including head count, special equipment, and other adjustments they might need to make.
- But the best part is that we were all working together. We were all in sync, we were all operating as one unit and best of all instead of being us versus them we became just us…we had each other’s back.
The thing here is to find a plan and work the plan. And do it together. To have a successful sales effort, to grow your customer base, your bookings and your revenue, it’s all hands on deck. The salesperson might be the face of the company…but only the face. It takes the entire company to be truly successful. It’s only common sense.