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Recently I have worked with several companies who have all asked me to help them solve the same problem...our sales are flat! They tell me that no matter what they do they can’t increase their sales. They are absolutely incorrect. Sales can always be increased if there is an active economy in the region. The problem that many companies have is twofold. One- They are too close to what the problems are that hamper sales, and Two- They fail to understand that their own organization may be hampering sales growth through several factors which I will discuss in the points below.
The bottom line in any corporation is that it is profitable! All the quality products, and exceptional customer service, don’t mean a lot if the entire business venture is unprofitable. That is simply the black and white of business. Where things get a little grey is when a business is producing high quality products and services, but has declining sales. How does a business owner get things back on track?
As a consultant, that is typically when I get called in. To perform an assessment of business processes, marketing processes and sales. All with the intention of coming up with a magic equation to get business flowing and profits back on track. There is not always a magic equation to increase sales. Sometimes the answers present themselves simply by having an independent set of eyes look at things, and sometimes it requires some in-depth analysis of business processes. Simple tweaks to a current sales process, or sales team may be all that is required to get the numbers rolling again.
I would like to share are the top five techniques that I have used to
help businesses take their sales from into the red to into the black.
Stop believing that you know everything- Too often a company executive is not open to hearing about things that they do poorly. When poor sales impact the bottom line it is too easy to point fingers around the boardroom table and assign someone the blame for it. The truth of the matter is that corporate executives need to be constantly reminded that there are always new techniques and methods evolving to sell products to an ever evolving customer base. By embracing the willingness to constantly learn new techniques to increase sales, an organization will always be on the cutting edge and showing positive growth.
Ignore the phrase” We do what we have always done, and we will get what we have always gotten”. – I use this phrase a lot with clients, and what it means is that those who fail to evolve and embrace change are doomed for failure. No marketing or lead generation plan is 100% effective. There is always room for improvement, and surely no sales strategy should remain the same year after year. Customer buying trends are constantly evolving, not to mention the medium with which they view their advertising. Embrace change, adjust accordingly, and seize the day. Implementing new tactics and embracing campaigns will not only gain new customers, but also increase overall sales..
I swear the market is dead- I worked with a company to improve sales in an area where the existing rep said that the market was” totally dead”. I managed to improve sales by over 40% in the first month, and exceed target four months in a row after that. The issue was not that the geographical area could not support the sales. The issue was that the sales rep had been allowed to get complacent and had convinced management that the “minimum” in sales per month were acceptable because the market just dried up. Poor sales had nothing to do with a soft market, but everything to do with an under motivated sales person. Under motivated, and underachieving, sales people have no place in your company. The word “can’t” should not exist in a salesperson’s vocabulary. If it does then you need to find new sales people. Never settle for the excuse of “the market is dead” unless there is an extreme economic downturn in the financial market. That excuse is used by sales reps that have become complacent, or burned out. It may be a simple fact that the market has changed and the rep no longer understands it. If you know your market then you know who your customer is, and you understand how to serve their needs. Manager’s need to ensure that sales reps are provided with the right training to stay current with market trends, and the proper incentive to stay motivated and grow sales.
Find New Blood- Bringing in a fresh new sales rep, or a consultant, does a lot to improve a sales dynamic. In hockey when a team is having a hard time advancing in the standings coaches will often bring in a new highly skilled player to motivate the current roster to remember what it was like to play hard every game. Sales teams are very similar. They can plateau. When that happens bringing in someone new to assist in motivating the sales team is a good thing. The caution point here is to ensure that the person brought in is a” positive influence” on a sales team. It is always important to bring in someone new who understands that the goal is to stimulate sales and not destroy morale doing so. Always ensure that when someone new is brought into an existing sales force that they are mature enough to understand that they are there to work with the team. Not destroy it.
Evaluate your marketing team- I have worked with way too many companies who do not understand the relationship between sales and marketing. Some place all the responsibility of growing sales, marketing, and closing on sales reps. Those companies tend to believe that their marketing departments are only responsible for maintaining websites and trade shows. A real marketing department is responsible for lead generation activities for sales reps. They are the ones that should be generating the activities that generate customer leads for sales reps to follow up on. If your marketing department is not creating leads for your sales team, then what is their purpose? If your sales team is not demanding lead generation activities from marketing then they are doing them themselves, and that takes away from the time that they should be selling and closing. It is a delicate balance, but I have found that sales should drive the demand for marketing to create leads, and marketing should drive sales to close leads and increase profit.
There are many
techniques to increase corporate sales, but I am hoping
that I hit the top five. I do know that these are things that I
have seen as common across many of my clients. Sometimes people
insist that they are experts on everything because they have made a few
dollars. I take the approach of being an eternal student. I
have seen a great many things in business, but I have a great many more
to see and that is what I find separates the good sales people from the
great sales people. The desire to never be satisfied with what is
occurring, at this moment, but the desire to always strive to improve
the next moment.
in sales will tell you that it is a living breathing thing, and it has
peaks and valleys. The important thing for business owners is to
know when to bring in a guide to lead them out of a valley and get back
on the peak.
Improving corporate sales requires a great deal of honesty for corporate executive. It requires the ability to admit when help is required to increase flat sales. I look at is as adding fertilizer to a garden that has produced well for years and then fallen off. It is still an awesome garden; the soil simply needs some stimulation to increase the yield. Hopefully the points above stimulate some ideas for sales growth in your organization.
I always believe
that no matter the industry, flat sales can always be turned around by
a little innovation, some hard work, and decent marketing. It is a
winning formula that will benefit any company looking to improve their
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