Usually as we turn our pages at this time of year we’re looking at our growth model of the past on what worked and what didn’t work in an effort to get a clear vision for the future that we want to create. Too often we expect sales people to know how to grow while they might not be able to take advantage of the business’s competitive advantage and business acumen.
A key to growth is understanding what the key things we sell in the market place are. If a company sells 10 different products or services then the company might sell two to three while the other seven prospective sales are lagging. In a lot of industries there may be a lot of opportunity to expand the amount of penetration to clients without increasing the amount of prospecting in order to lead to expanding your sales growth. If these decisions on what to sell are made independently from the aim of the company then we may see results which do not reflect the expansive hope of our business strategy.
Some questions we might need to have are whether or not we should expand our sales location and whether we should be considering selling to distributors or if the direct approach is the best for our business. We should learn to measure our prospects in terms of rabbits, deers, bears, and elephants. We need a variety of clients in order to achieve both success and growth and need to understand where we’re looking for success—an elephant could be a small company where you’ve made deep penetration, whereas a rabbit could be a large, independent company that does a minimal amount of engagement with your company. Our definitions require us to take a look at the penetration that we’ve made in the marketplace.
All of this requires us to agree in the sales department on what needs to be done. The sales process, the quantity, and the frequency which we do behaviors in order to find the growth success that we’re looking to build in the new year. Part of the process is a conversation where we agree on an understood vision of growth appetite and what we’re looking at in the next two to three years. It’s an internal decision to decide and set goals related to growth for both sales people and sales management to control and know where that growth will come from.
We also need to look at our competitive positioning in the market place and understand what our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are. This requires a collective understanding of our market as well—if you know the weaknesses and threats of your competitor then you will know the strong questions that lead to a better conversion rate for clients and prospects with finding future success.
Most sales people don’t enjoy prospecting, but they need to do it and we need to understand our business’s development strategies that are most successful. Determining success includes understanding the required frequency to lead to success and to close well. It’s critical that we move sales from an art form to a science in order to increase the predictability and probability of success. To figure out the strategy, we need to measure what we’re currently doing. What we should do is going to vary person to person. It’s important to understand where the prospect base is relative to us and how easy it is for us to get in front of them. Face-to-face networking, conferences, and walk-in cold calls will be more successful across the board than telephone or technology. It's important to tap into what is already working and share it. We need to have a diversified approach to avoid putting all our eggs into one basket.
As companies succeed in the marketplace, growth eats cash. It’s important to know as you grow what the resources you will need in order to reach the next level of success. The price tag on your equipment, personnel, and training are important metrics to understand when you think about your business growing. Often we grow organically and when we hit a plateau where we’re unsure what happens—typically without the resources we’ll face issues in the growth that we anticipated propelling us to the next level. When your back is against the wall and you need financing, your opportunities will be restricted. Growth must be planned for in terms of resources, personnel, and opportunities. If you land a big job that requires an upfront investment, would you be able to execute on it?
What are your one, two, and three-year goals. Where do you want to see the business in several years? The idea of a growing company comes with the understanding of job security and growth for individuals who already work in the trenches. We should know what the results we’re looking for in order to build the story for our team of what the future looks like, what markets we wish to penetrate, what new products or services we wish to grow and develop. As your company grows in your manpower then there will be opportunities for management, leadership roles and this will create an attractive opportunity to stay. A growing company is a retention strategy for owners and opportunities.
What is your big, hairy, audacious goal? This goal should scare you and it should build the attraction for the right people who want to work for you while pushing away the C players who may not be the most efficient investments in your business’s resources. We want this goal to be measurable, tangible, and comprehensive while highlighted and set in stone so that the visibility and reality is in front of us and drives us to success.
There isn’t a one size fits all for a sales team. In a small sales team all aspects of the sales process are owned by one individual. Whereas in larger organizations the spread of the sales team might be from costumer facing, lead generation, prospecting, and marketing. We need to understand the right model for our sales team and the geographical momentum that we use to pursue and close business opportunities before we enter a face-to-face conversation. Understanding our companies cultural view of the sales landscape will define the sales strategy around the investments that are important to success and the right steps for them to take in order to achieve the sales growth they envision in the coming year. When you have a plan for success, you just work your plan. Building a plan in these areas will give you the specific means to build out the work you need to do to see the future you envision.