You find yourself at the end of your fiscal year with a sales number that’s the same as last year, or worse, lower than the previous year, despite your best efforts. You may think that outside factors are the reason for your sales stagnation: the economy, the marketplace, competitors. However, I challenge you to consider inside factors first.
Remember the old adage: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Working harder or for more hours without real results may mean that you are working on the wrong things. Let’s not be crazy. Let’s be strategic.
Information drives sales strategy.
To develop a sales strategy, you need information. Take some time to evaluate your revenue streams. Data can tell you a story about your business. How deep an understanding do you have about where your sales come from and how they come to you? Sure, you can quote the top line, but dig deeper: which revenue “bucket” is growing or static or losing sales? And why. Which product is most profitable?
This analysis can show you that you may need to make changes in pricing and/or or marketing promotion. I’ve seen cases where companies have put the most effort into selling the least profitable product.
Know your customers, the market.
How well do you know your customers and why they do business with you? How has your relationship and their buying habits changed over the years? And do you know why prospects don’t do business with you?
What’s your customer churn? Don’t expect that every client will remain a client, or even have the same buying habits every year. In fact, expect the opposite. Turnover is a given, so you need to replace lost business before you can grow your top line. Are you replacing 20%, 30%, 50% or more every year? Do you have a clear picture of who your best prospects are, and what may motivate them do business with you?
Have there been changes in the marketplace? How are your competitors doing? Are you in a position to act on new opportunities as they become available? If no, why not?
Have a well-trained and motivated sales team
Is your team stuck in their comfort zone? Are they selling the same products to the same clients and happy with the “rinse and repeat” book of business?
Does your team understand the value of your products and pricing, or are they addicted to discounting? Do they anticipate price objections before hearing any response from the client? Are they selling with fear?
Are your sales people motivated to build a book of business or are they comfortable where they are? Bonuses or more commission as a reward for performance can work, but only if the sales person is motivated by the additional earnings. Often a sales person can become complacent with what they are earning and don’t need to make extra effort to earn more. It may be time to revamp your compensation plans with your sales team.
How committed are you to training your sales team? A high-performing sales person needs clear direction and tools to help and motivate them to push themselves beyond the “rinse and repeat” mode. If you are accountable to them for providing what they need, they will be accountable to you.
To jump start your sales will require you taking a combination of actions that are informed by the data you collect and the analysis you do on your internal situation.
Donna Brassard is owner of Strategies+, a business consulting firm that helps businesses maximize their potential.. Learn more at www.strategiesplus.biz, and you can reach Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org.