Start Redirecting Your Sales Team in 3 Steps
As the market continues to change and the breadth of product and service offerings expands, so does the need to examine the effectiveness of your go-to market strategy. It’s not only what you are offering but who are you offering it to, and how well are you actually executing on your plan. A fundamental review would include who your ideal clients are and what attributes do they have, and where and how has the existing effort been successful. Lastly, what gaps have you identified in the process, if any?
A clear understanding of who you are trying to sell to — your ideal client profile
In speaking with a client recently, they indicated that they wanted to begin the process of hiring a new sales rep. Great I said, what specifically do you want them to do and who will they be selling to? I didn’t ask the question to be a wise guy but rather, wouldn’t knowing those two things help to understand what characteristics we are looking for in a rep — other than can they sell? Is it transactional selling to anyone whose check will clear, or is it targeted to a specific market, or markets, where the company has a strategic competitive advantage? Are there specific industry verticals or product segments that they will be selling to, and what do they know about what might motivate a buyer to add a new supplier? Understanding a buying process will certainly help the rep to become more successful in their efforts. They may also have an existing rep or two that they want to model the new rep after and if they’ve used any testing profiles, those could be helpful as well. You see, it’s a little more than, “let’s just go hire a new sales rep.”
Where and how are you being successful today?
Simply, what works for your business? Take a look at your customers from a couple of vantage points — existing customer growth, retention, and attrition, as well as new business development of the types of customers that you really want. Which reps are doing well and more importantly, what are they doing to achieve that success? If you can document their success you’ll have a higher likelihood of being able to repeat it and scale it throughout your team. If you’re looking at entering new markets, you’ll have to study whether or not what is effective in one area can also be as effective in another.
Identify the gaps and areas that you feel are underperforming
At this point, you can better identify where the gaps are (if any), and the areas that need to be reinforced in order for you to hit your stride. It could be a number of areas starting with your position in the marketplace, and how well you have let the folks you want to do business with know who you are. Marketing can be all-encompassing but also plays a much larger role in successful print-based companies today. That can be inbound and outbound, social, and all types of direct mail. How will you gain the attention of the person you want to meet with? It could be a sales team that is more focused on account retention than on growing the business and finding opportunities to sell the various new services that you’ve invested in. You might also find out that you’re just not leveraging your successes — telling stories to new folks about how you’ve made an impact on companies just like theirs.
So you’ve identified the gaps and now you just plug them right? Not to try and oversimplify this, but yes. Gather the people involved in the areas you want to improve, and lay out the current situation. You’ll be asking for acknowledgment that the problems exist and now work together to establish what’s in the way of the course correction and come up with the steps and timelines to make the change. Again, there’s a bit more to it, but you get the idea. I would recommend having a plan to make these changes with follow up steps and more importantly, hold everyone accountable for getting it done. If it’s important, make it happen. If it’s not, don’t waste your time.
Over the next few blog posts, I’ll continue with ideas for changing your sales model. In the meantime, if you have ideas or comments on the subject, please include them below. Good luck and remember, doing nothing is not an option!
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Philie leverages his 28 years of direct industry experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership to share what’s working for companies today and how to safely transform your business. Since 2007, he has been providing consulting services to privately held printing and mailing companies across North America.
Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach.