Before you leave for work in the morning, do you check the weather forecast? Or do you check to see if there is any traffic congestion on your normal route? Do you adjust your driving style due to the snow storm or do you take a different route because of an accident on your normal route?
No one will get onto the highway knowing there is a major traffic accident ahead that will cause a 30-minute delay, especially if there is an alternative route that can save them a significant amount of time. If we plan our daily commute, why are most businesses not also doing the necessary planning before hiring a new sales rep or before we give the sales team their marching orders for the year?
Benjamin Franklin supposedly once said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Hope is not a strategy. Many business owners are hiring additional sales reps or account managers to go and win new customers. Yes, sales growth will not happen without having a great sales team. But before you hire your next sales resource, or before you give your sales team their marching orders for the year or quarter, you have to first develop and validate your sales strategy. It is important to know that your existing sales resources or your next hire will deliver the best results possible for your business. A sales strategy will among other things consider:
- The potential growth from existing customers vs growth from new customers. Do you need to hire a hunter or a farmer?
- Skills from existing sales team – If your existing sales team have been farmers, do they have the capacity to become hunters?
- How long will it take to deliver growth from existing customers or from new customers?
- What resources are required to deliver the results? Do you have the cash flow required to win new customers that might take 9-12 months or should the sales team rather focus on potential revenue from existing customers that might only take me 3-6 months?
- Is your business at risk due to customer concentration? Should you invest resources on existing customers vs expanding my customer base.
Thomas A. Edison once said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That might be a catchy quote but your business does not have the luxury to find 10,000 ways not to grow your revenue. Most businesses don’t have a sales strategy, or at least not an updated strategy, and yet they are hiring more salespeople, without doing the due diligence to a) ensure that the existing or new sales positions are going to deliver the best results for their company, and b) confirm that they have the resources that are needed to maximize the success of the sales team.
I recently met with a business owner that desperately needed revenue growth. Because it took him 3 months to hire his previous sales rep, he wanted to start the hiring process so that the new sales reps could start on the same date as I would start as his Outsourced VP of Sales. The owner’s plan for the new sales reps was to expand the business into a new part of the USA. After an hour conversation about his business, opportunities and existing resources, it was clear that the short-term result he needed would come from going deeper into existing accounts instead of an expansion into new territories. Needless to say, the hiring of the reps was placed on hold until after we could develop a sales strategy.
Remember the days before Google Maps, Garmin or SatNav systems gave us directions on where to turn to get to our desired destination? When I traveled to a new location I would either get directions ahead of time or I would get a map at the car rental office, or both. A sales strategy is the map you need to get to the desired location. Hiring a salesperson is just one of the turns you can take to get somewhere. We all know how much time can be lost by making one wrong turn. The growth of your business depends on having a great sales team, but before you hire that A-Team, start by developing a proper sales strategy.
Growth starts with a sales strategy. Hiring a great sales team is just one of the steps and resources required to execute your growth strategy to maximize your results.
At Sales Xceleration, we know that a sales strategy is critical to sales growth. Any sales and business growth – small or large, slow or rapid – requires foresight and management. Success by growth should never come as a surprise. It should, rather, be planned, foreseeable, manageable and sustainable. When we are called in to assist a business, it is sometimes to help boost sales; but sometimes we are called upon to help them handle sudden growth. Regardless of when we enter the situation as a Sales Consultant or an Outsourced VP of Sales, we do what all businesses should do: We start by building in a plan for managed growth and then we execute the plan for you.
Want to learn more about sales consulting and sales strategy? Read about various sales topics in our sales consulting blog.