Sales are the life’s blood of all business. No matter the market, all businesses are in sales in one form another. As such, a company’s overall success is largely dependent on the strength and dedication of its sales team in cooperation with all other aspects of a product’s development.
Companies are quick to remind their sales staff of this, and place much faith and pressure on teams to sell as much as possible. The life of a sales professional can be very profitable, but can also be quite stressful. It’s not uncommon for a great product to fail in connecting with its target audience due to the failure of any department, which usually shows on the sales floor.
Companies looking to avoid the fate of poor numbers should seriously consider taking this advice to heart. Here are a few of the most common mistakes made by sales teams and how they can be avoided or corrected.
NOT UNDERSTANDING THE MISSION
There are very few companies that list “making money” as their mission statement.
Profit is the assumed result of a job well done for any business, yet most would think of selling products as the sole responsibility for sales. This misunderstanding is then driven further into the minds of impressionable young recruits who are pumped up to be caffeinated, selling machines.
These are the same individuals that become the pushy, unknowledgeable, people on the floor who are so concerned with meeting a quota that they are almost completely transparent in their insincerity for actually helping anyone. These people can be seen fleeing the scene of any real issues and focused on fishing through waves of people looking for potential sales.
SOLUTION – A Sales professional is, amongst many things, an evangelist of the company’s message. For a team to be successful they must fully “buy-in” to the companies overall method and mission. For this reason it is important to drive the mission home and clearly state the company’s overall goal (which is always more than “to make money”.
LACK OF TRAINING
Most people would prefer a consultative sales professional who can listen to their needs and use their product knowledge to help them find exactly what they need. What they often get are people who have been thrown on the sales floor after a week or so of training. There is nothing more off-putting to potential customers than to be left in the dark dealing with a staff that knows less about the product than they do. It is not at all uncommon to see promising startups hurt their cause by mobilizing an unprepared sales team that doesn’t fully understand how to place the features of a product with the needs of a client. How a company promotes and sells its products is a direct indication of their professionalism and overall approach. This is the first impression and an unprepared sales team can hurt big time.
SOLUTION – While it may seem profitable to simply train new recruits on the basics and allow them to learn the real ropes on the floor, keep in mind that this is all being done at the expense of the company’s credibility. A proper staff is trained not once but constantly. Regularly educate staff on new products and features, introduce new value arguments which place the products in high regard, and teach them more about the customer identity so they understand who they are working for and what drives them.
Structure is important for any aspect of a company and sales is certainly no exception. A successful sales staff is concerned only with servicing the customer as most other aspects of their roles are clearly defined. Structure allows team members to understand their group and individual goals, how their participation affects the company, key performance indicators, and most importantly understanding the client. A lack of organization and structure can muffle success.
Companies will miss out on target clients simply because they didn’t know they existed, sales forces don’t that know they are disorganized don’t understand quota and flounder day after day trying to get sales in hopes of commission rather than helping and customers ultimately feel disconnected from the company, slowly eroding brand loyalty.
SOLUTION – In the modern era of business, there are virtually no excuses for why a sales team cannot be organized. Where in the past full management teams were needed to focus sales pros in on their goals, now there are highly capable programs dedicated to facilitating many of the vital needs for structuring a sales force. Today’s sales approach places an emphasis on Customer Retention, which focuses on keeping and building relationships with existing clients for long lasting and larger sales.
This approach helps strengthen brand loyalty amongst clients and has proven to be considerably less costly. These programs are pennies on the dollar compared to employing a large staff of managers and come complete with calculating tools to weigh everything needed to run and successfully monitor the progress of any business.