One of the most common issues I hear about today is how to grow top line revenue.
While perhaps a function of the economy, it is more likely a set of internal obstacles that holds back progress.
I’ve identified several reasons why your company’s revenue is flat, declining or has a growth trend that is unacceptable; use this checklist to make the needed improvements in your company.
The target markets are shrinking or changing in ways the company has yet to realize.
Price compression initiated by from the competition may have sales people believing that they must react by selling at even lower prices. While this may sometimes be the case, I believe it should be seen as a warning sign that sales people do not know of any other way to sell except on price.
Perhaps your company has a tired or worn-out sales force resigned to rejecting any new sales techniques because “This is the way we have always done it” — despite the fact that what used to work is not working today, and won’t work tomorrow, either.
Those same sales people are usually deskbound. Sales management fails to understand that the best use of a sales person’s time is across the desk from a buyer. This is because the company (or the individual salesperson) has no formal, structured prospecting plan or program.
Nonperforming or underperforming sales people often suffer from a lack of prospects. This can be uncovered by asking a simple question: “Show me what your pipeline looks like.” No sales person can be successful without a full pipeline of potential clients.
Ask yourself how well your company prospecting efforts are. If you prefer that your sales people do their own prospecting, understand that it is very time consuming and will not be the best use of their time.
The best salespeople in any industry usually have no problem finding employment so companies often settle for less than stellar revenue generators.
This is further manifested that your company may fall short in providing any type of ongoing sales training and education to make your sales people better performers.
Having unprofessional salespeople represent your company can damage the reputation of your company for years. This is manifested in the way a salesperson dresses, acts, eats and speaks when representing the company.
By the way, each point of contact, or “moment of truth,” that one of your clients has with one of your employees will either enhance or detract from the revenue-producing relationships that you either have or want to secure. This means that the lowest level employee in your can damage or destroy a relationship if they have not been educated in what is expected of them.
Having internal meetings with sales people during the times of the day when they should be calling on prospects and clients is a waste of time. This includes face to face meetings, telephone conference calls, sales training sessions and web conferencing. These are all internal meetings not external ones.
Every one of these distractions, no matter how important they may seem, is eating away at revenue growth.
One suggestion to improve sales productivity is to hold all internal sales meetings and do all sales proposal / presentation creation after 6pm. This recognizes that the only time to have a meeting with prospects and clients is during the business day.
When it comes to goals, having hard numbers and desired results should be measurable with a time-bound setting but in many companies they are what as referred to as marshmallow goals. This means the goals are soft.
It doesn’t help when sales goals constantly change. A moving target is very difficult to hit and is demoralizing to sales people.
Having sales people on the payroll who are not committed to achieving their own goals, let alone the company’s, will do nothing but spread poison in the organization.
When sales support staff, which in many companies is everyone not in sales, is often too so far removed from client interaction it means they do not understand the impact of their inaction or delay in responding or producing on revenue growth.
Unlike most employees you may have on the payroll, sales people do what they do each day for the opportunity to make more money through bonuses and commissions.
Messing with changes in commissions and bonuses will eliminate trust and goodwill and more than anything else, cause sales people to move to another company.
Two final issues to share that are often hidden from the view of ownership. The first is when sales people have to do other people’s jobs to make sure the client is taken care of. The second is the failure of sales management to listen to the valid concerns of salespeople.
It is your responsibility to eliminate the excuses of sales people to sell and to address the legitimate obstacles that stand in the way of revenue growth.
Ken Keller is an executive coach who works with small and midsize B2B company owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs. He facilitates formal top executive peer groups for business expansion, including revenue growth, improved internal efficiencies and greater profitability. Email:[email protected] Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the SCVBJ.