By Ken Keller
CEOs would be wise to remember Gen. George Patton’s preaching, “A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
My question is: Where is your Profitable Growth Sales Plan? You can execute a good sales plan, but you can’t execute a plan that doesn’t exist. Let me share the nine toxins that destroy your chances for sales growth starting with the lack of a written sales plan for your company.
This means total reliance on each person in sales to dream up and execute their own magic plan. But they don’t have a plan, and never did; this explains why sales have been flat or declining despite the words from sales that things will turn around soon.
The second is your out-of-date sales comp plan. Nothing says, “Thank you and I will work harder,” than big commission checks.
The third is the lack of clarity what kind of business you want to pursue. Minus clear direction, sales will bring in all the low-hanging fruit they can reach, and much of it will be rotten.
Fourth, there is no companywide prospecting effort. Your best closers will bumble through prospecting instead of investing time signing deals. The rest will, figuratively, drink poison to get out of the torture of prospecting.
Fifth is failure to launch. The most valuable time for selling is during normal working hours; usually 7am. to 6 pm. The average salesperson doesn’t make their first call before 11 a.m. Look out for people running out for a quick client visit followed by a long lunch, more than half the day already wasted.
Next, the typical salesperson is happy to spend 71% of their time in administrative work (34%) or in other, blissful, non-revenue-producing activities (37%), because it’s easier than selling.
Seventh, just 15% of a salesperson’s day is spent with current clients, making that income vulnerable for the taking by the competition.
Eighth, a full 50% of all sales calls end not moving the relationship forward.
Toxin nine is the frequency at which salespeople give up on possible buyers. After the first call, half of all salespeople give up. Following the second call, a full 65% of salespeople have given up on the prospect. Once the third call is completed, 79% of salespeople are done with the prospect. After the fourth call, 90% of salespeople won’t make another call on the prospect.
Yet, research suggests that by the eighth call, not only has a relationship started to form, but the salesperson is also the only person who has been both consistent and persistent in pursuit of the business opportunity.
If you, the CEO, desires better sales results, if you want to drive these toxins from your company, your role must change to be one of teacher, coach, and enforcer. You must set into motion what is needed to consistently improve the sales skills of all, from rookie to the old pro; you will need to get out of the office, investing time with everyone to coach for improvement, and you will need to enforce a policy of “achieve or else.”
Ignore these toxins at your own peril.
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 notnecessarily those of the SCVBJ.