If you employ salespeople or proactively sell a product or service by another means, you have a sales standard. Sales improvement is satisfied with an increase in qualities and quantities of various sales activities. Optimization satisfies a company’s potential to sell its products and services to its full extent. Improve your sales standard and you will improve your sales.
After twenty-five plus years of sales experience working with companies as visible as Chevron, as prestigious as the production firm for the Oscars and Emmys, and clients whose names are among the most famous in the world—including Walmart, Estee Lauder, Coca-Cola, Intel, Viacom, Motorola—I can assure you that there is no simple solution for maximum sales. Maximum sales is achieved by tapping potential.
There are no simple answers to questions about how sales excellence can be achieved and sustained. Any simple summation—“persist,” “follow-through,” “listen,” “maintain a positive attitude,” etc.—amounts to very little, since platitudes and references to specific practices are all that can be said simply. Names of practices and platitudes constitute the superficial level of actual concepts. And concepts have dimensions and layers that involve complex thought, which require explanations in order to be understood. Although there are no simple answers, answers do exist. The following article offers answers to the questions about how to maximize sales and achieve sales reliably.
In order to achieve maximum sales, you must pursue maximum sales; incremental growth is no longer a sufficient accomplishment for your business. Prepare accordingly: your Sales operation must include the following four “sales pillars”:
(the structure of your Sales operation that includes schedules, forms, responsibilities, etc.);
(the procedures for the “what,” “why,” and “how” of your sales activities);
(the means by which you inform, instruct, develop, and encourage your salesperson or sales team);
(the person who safeguards—monitors, evaluates, intervenes, nurtures, etc.—your sales progress).
These sales pillars are required elements for maximum sales for virtually every revenue-oriented company. With your sales pillars in place, the next step to consider is your sales standard.
The Standard of Sales Excellence
If you employ salespeople or proactively sell a product or service by another means, you have a sales standard. Sales improvement is satisfied with an increase in qualities and quantities of various sales activities. Optimization satisfies a company’s potential to sell its products and services to its full extent. Improve your sales standard and you will improve your sales. This applies to every business, regardless of its type, size, or the number of salespeople employed.
In any given company, parts of a Sales operation may include:
1. The salesperson or sales team
2. The sales manager or person who manages sales
3. Support staff
4. Sales materials
5. Sales goals
6. Organizational system—CRM
7. The competition
8. The company’s market position
9. Sales support data
Your sales standard is an aggregate of three distinct criteria:
(1) Performance—the minimum performance level that you require from the various parts of
your Sales operation;
(2) Response—the requirements for how those parts should interact with one another;
(3) Application—the means by which results/products from those parts (such as leads, sales opportunities, analytics, etc.) are evaluated and used by you or your management team.
Here are a few examples of parts of a Sales operation and a Performance, Response, or Application correlative, as it may relate to another part of the operation or company:
The Sales Quota – Management’s response to subpar performance
Support Materials – How Marketing is informed of and responds to Sales needs
Sales Data – Management’s interpretation and use of statistical information
Sales Skills – Management’s acceptance of competency differences within the team
Communication Systems – Quality of information recorded
Similarities among companies exist (such as the industry they share), but each company is unique. Your company’s uniqueness includes its advantages and disadvantages in a competitive marketplace or sales situation. Within your uniqueness resides your potential. Potential can be improved when the parts of your Sales operation are made more productive; potential can be optimized when the parts of your sales operation function most effectively and efficiently according to your sales standard.
Since many business owners and sales managers do not think about their sales potential in terms of their sales standard, they focus on symptoms of deficiency in their operation. As a result, their Sales operation becomes imbalanced—like a high-performance sports car with an engine from a lawnmower!
If you think of your Sales operation only as consisting of certain parts (such as your referral program, salespeople, Revenue Line, sales materials, CRM) rather than as a comprehensive and interdependent system, you set yourself up for eventual breakdown in your productivity. Strengthening one link in the metaphorical chain of your operation creates imbalance, which weakens the chain. You can maintain a more profitable company through balance among the parts of your Sales operation. Suggestions:
A solution for issues with lead generation should include development of a salesperson’s ability to convert qualified leads into a sale.
A solution for issues gaining appointments with key prospective clients should include development of effective presentation materials and a salesperson’s presentation skills.
A solution for issues with advancement of sales opportunities should include development of a salesperson’s ability to up-sell, cross-sell, and gain referrals.
A solution for issues with obtaining accurate sales data should include development of data management systems, reporting requirements and procedures, and an assessment criterion for sales management.
These are just a few of the topics related to your sales standard. Here are some additional considerations:
What limitations preclude your company’s ability to manage greater sales?
Are your salespeople comparable to one another in their skills, in their performance, in their efficiency? If not, why not? And can performance standardization be achieved?
Which of the issues has management recognized as being related to hindrances to enhanced sales productivity, and which options are being considered as resolutions to those issues? What is the rationale for the favored or chosen solution?
How effective and efficient is the communication between the departments of your company, and how might communication be improved? What benefits could communication improvements provide your company?
Sales Support Services
If you seek the advice of a sales “expert,” proceed with caution. You are unique! Your business is unique. Your company’s uniqueness includes its advantages and disadvantages in a competitive marketplace or sales situation. In order to optimize sales, the parts of your sales operation must function most effectively and efficiently according to a standard. So, when considering a sales solutions service, beware: virtually every sales support resource—books, seminars, consultants, webinars, etc.—offers a template-based sales program or system that is to be “tailored” or superimposed onto a business. These services are designed to provide sales improvement, not sales optimization. Therefore, I advise business owners and sales managers to avoid sales consultants, and to demand a quality of service that delivers original, company-specific solutions.
1. No premade, template-based sales programs or systems
2. No outdated sales model that has been “updated”
3. No limitations of service
4. No “tailored” solutions
Service providers will evaluate your situation by the limitations of the service(s) they sell. Instead of considering merely the symptoms of weakness in a part or parts of your Sales operation, consider, instead, your sales solutions options as they serve your Sales operation as a system. Your sales solution must apply specifically and broadly across all dimensions of your Sales operation. You lose sales when breakdown occurs in even one link of your operation, and from the impact that the broken link has on other links of your Sales operation. Some examples…
You lose sales when your salespeople cannot…
(a) generate quality leads and (b) cannot engage their prospects
(a) intrigue their prospects and (b) cannot advance a sales opportunity
(a) leverage a sale and (b) cannot nurture sales opportunities
(a) up-sell, cross-sell, and re-sell and (b) cannot deliver satisfactorily
(a) work more efficiently and (b) do not work effectively
You can optimize your sales and achieve reliable sales growth. The course to maximum sales exists and may be easy to follow, depending on the condition of your company. In order for any sales solutions provider to give you meaningful direction for sales optimization, their direction must be “state-specific.” State-specific direction refers to specific conditions or existing situations in a company such as its place in the market, its brand identity, its resources, products, services, competition, salespeople, etc. The most valuable sales solutions are based on state-specific details, which directly relate to a company’s actual sales potential and commitment to a performance level.
If the vision you have for your business includes fulfillment of your sales potential, your sales standard, the four pillars of sales, and a state-specific sales program aimed to achieve optimal synergy among the parts of your Sales operation, then you are on the right track for maximum sales.
About the author
Steve Young is a nationally respected, “outside the box” sales expert who is President…