Do you feel that? It’s the feeling of time flying by. We’re already in mid-July. We’re past the halfway point and the fourth quarter is in sight. If your sales team is behind on their goals or your expectations, you running very short on time to correct by the end of the year.
Whether you’re a sales manager, a VP-level executive, or even in the C-suite, you probably feel the pressure if sales aren’t where they need to be. You understand the urgency better than anyone.
The challenge is understanding why your team isn’t performing. You honestly believe you have the right people in place and that they’re giving it their best effort. Your product or service is attractive, well-priced, and meets a need in the market place. So what’s the problem?
I’ve served as a sales leader, coach, and consultant for more than 30 years. What I’ve seen time and again is that when an organization has a widespread sales problem, the issue usually runs much deeper than just the sales department. If a team – rather than a handful of individuals – is struggling, the problem usually lies in the culture, structure or processes of the organization. Things the sales team can’t control but impacts their ability to be successful. You may even have a ‘sales prevention’ department or process!
Unfortunately, it can be hard to diagnose these problems from the inside. You’re in too deep. You don’t have the objectivity or outside perspective to clearly diagnose the organizational issues and if you think you know what they are, you may not know what to do to fix them.
That’s why you should consider working with a sales consultant. Yes, I know. Consultants often get a bad rap. After all, how can a consultant diagnose your problems when they don’t even know your business.
The truth is, though, that the most pervasive sales challenges and solutions usually translate across industries and companies. Whatever your issue is, I’m confident I’ve seen it before. When you work with me, you’re able to leverage my wealth of experience and knowledge in diagnosing and resolving organizational sales challenges.
What are some of those challenges and solutions? Check out some of my case studies to get detailed examples of how a sales consultant can help a business grow, realign or refocus, and drive more revenue.
Below are a few highlights from those case studies that are great examples of common organizational sales issues. If any of these challenges sound familiar to you, it might be time to schedule an initial consultation.
Your compensation isn’t structured in a way that drives sales.
As long as there have been salespeople, there have been variable pay structures tied to sales outcomes. Commissions, bonuses, and other forms of compensation are the engine that drives the sales organization.
The best salespeople are competitive. They like to win and be successful. And they like to be rewarded for that success. If your salespeople aren’t performing, it may be that they just aren’t motivated by your compensation structure.
Restructuring compensation doesn’t always mean paying more money. It may simply mean giving the people who are most likely to influence the sale the opportunity to participate in the financial success.
For example, in my work with Urban Hardwood, a furniture manufacturer, we discovered that the greatest sales potential was on the showroom floor. The problem was that the showroom staff members were paid like service employees, not salespeople.
We changed that structure and introduced a variable pay component tied to sales success in the showroom. We also implemented a training program to give them the tools to be successful. As a result of the change, showroom sales numbers increased by 25 percent.
You have policies in place that are a drag on morale.
Happy employees are productive employees. That’s as true for the sales team as it is for workers on the manufacturing floor. However, you may have policies in place that suppress happiness, drive frustration, and possibly even breed resentment.
One example is a discovery I made while working with a food manufacturer that provides snack products to hospitality companies. The purpose of the project was to help fill the void created when the VP of Sales was promoted to President, and to help them gain traction in the retail market.
However, as I met with salespeople, I learned about another issue. The company had an onerous travel and expense policy that made it difficult for salespeople to do their jobs effectively. Reporting expenses and requesting travel was a burdensome and time-draining process. The operation was a drag on morale.
Now, in that project, there were a number of big issues to confront. However, the travel expense issue is a great example of a frustrating and unnecessary policy that hurts morale. You may have policies like this that you aren’t even aware of. A consultant can help you identify those policies and make changes.
Your marketing messaging is inconsistent with your value.
One of my favorite projects is the work I did with KBM Workspace in San Jose. They’re an office furniture dealer and they happen to be the number one dealer of Knoll furniture in the U.S., now, after working with them for two years. The have a strong value proposition, but when I started working with them, their messaging didn’t reflect that value.
They had positioned themselves as a furniture dealer, which is technically accurate. However, they’re much more than that. They don’t just sell furniture. They completely transform workspaces. They create inspiring and elevating spaces that make employees happy to come to work. That’s a valuable service, but their prospects weren’t getting that message.
We created a “before and after” campaign showing not only the furniture, but the entire transformation of a space. We put the campaign online and also created a number of case studies to further highlight their capabilities.
Marketing and sales have a complicated relationship in many companies, even though the two functions are often intertwined. An outside consultant can bring perspective and help the two departments meet on a common vision and message. In KBM’s case, the work resulted in a 53 percent increase in showroom tour conversions and a 17 percent increase revenue.
Your leadership structure isn’t built for sales success.
This one can be a hard issue to identify, and even more difficult to accept. It’s possible that the issue isn’t with your sales team. It’s with you.
Now, I don’t mean that you’re a bad leader or that you’re not capable. What I do mean is that your organizational structure may not be set up to provide the kind of leadership your team needs.
Perhaps you have managers who don’t have leadership or coaching skills. Maybe you’re running sales and marketing and are overwhelmed by the dual responsibilities. Perhaps your new VP of sales is only 3 years removed from being an intern. I know that sounds funny, but in fast-growing companies, stranger things have happened.
One of the other challenges at KBM was that the CEO was running the business and directly managing the entire sales team. It was too much for one person to handle, and he wasn’t giving the sales team the guidance they needed. I helped him see how we could restructure the sales team, the reporting structure, and the sales strategy that resulted in KBM being the #1 Knoll dealer not just in California, but the country!
Again, as a sales leader, it’s hard to identify your own challenges. A sales consultant can use their outside perspective and objectivity to pinpoint those issues and offer a diagnosis and solution.
Ready to start tackling your company’s sales challenges? Let’s schedule a no-cost, no-commitment consultation session. We’ll discuss your objectives and the obstacles holding you back. At the end of the session, I’ll suggest some next steps for us to take together.
I welcome the opportunity to work with you and your team. Let’s connect soon.
Latest posts by Judy Frank (see all)
- When Women Thrive, Businesses Grow - February 23, 2017
- How to Make Meaningful Offline Connections in an Online World - December 29, 2016
- Your Prospect Has 3 Brains. Which One Are You Selling To? - November 8, 2016