Revenue’s down, sales goals aren’t being met, it’s classic sales underachievement and there’s one group to blame, right? Or is there? Sales people obviously need to carry the ultimate responsibility of securing more business but they can only be at their best if the right environment exists.
Earlier in my career while I was in the cellular industry our company purchased a new market in WA that I was asked to lead. To make a long story short the market had only hit its monthly sales and retention goals twice in the previous 24 months. After six months they went on a tear, hitting their goals 16 out of the next 18 months. The goals were higher than the ones they were not hitting and there was only a 10% change in employees. So what made the difference? Quite a bit actually, and it was a result of a company wide initiative in addition to the sales people improving their efforts.
Here are the key changes that ignited this winning team.
- The product (cellular coverage and reliability) was shored up and improved
- Customer service software issues were addressed and fixed
- Goals were shared with all employees
- Marketing was consistent and coordinated with sales
- All employee quarterly bonuses were tied to goal attainment and paid out
- Local and regional leadership who set high expectations and managed with backbone and compassion
- Employee ideas were listened to and some were implemented
- Fun was instilled into monthly and quarterly all-employee meetings
- Inventory was managed to provide proper inventory levels to support sales goals
- The company had a sales friendly environment (the sales team was valued but not spoiled)
- Processes and policies were tightened up that supported company goals and customer satisfaction.
- Sales people were held accountable for attaining their goals. We did let a couple go during the 18 months due to low sales volumes.
I provided the local sales and operational leadership, the company provided the infrastructure for us to be successful and the sales people closed the business. The previous ownership had done a lot of good things with very good people. But they had also cut corners, adapted processes to weaknesses in systems rather than fixing them and did not get employee buy-in and commitment to reaching the goals.
At Sales Manager Now we are often asked to come in and turn sales around or move them up sooner than later, but as it was in WA, it requires a team effort of Sales Management, Company Support and Sales People to make dynamic changes. Before taking the easy road and purchasing the next sales training that comes across your desk or turning over the sales team, take a look at how your company is doing (ask your key employees where the issues are that have been ignored, lived with or neglected), and consider hiring a sales manager that understands how to lead with backbone and compassion.
The diagram below will help you reflect on how you are approaching the different areas that impact sales. If you want to take a deeper look at how you’re doing regarding sales management, take a few minutes completing the Sales Management Assessment.