It is alarmingly common for owners of small- to medium-sized businesses to believe they can’t take a vacation because, at least in part, their sales action plan will grind to a halt without their involvement. While this might be true for the very small business in which the owner is the centerpiece of all sales activity, growing businesses need to find a way to keep their sales action plan – and their revenue stream – in motion even while the boss is away. The good news is that there is a solution:
Vacation? What’s a Vacation?
Business owners deserve a break. They need a break! Sadly, however, they seldom take time away from the business to recharge their batteries. In fact, a recent Fortune article reported on a 2014 study that revealed that fewer than half of the small business owners surveyed planned to take a vacation. Of those who did plan to take time off, 6 in 10 planned to be away from the business for only 5 days per year, and only 15% admitted to being able to fully disconnect from their business. In fact, two-thirds of those surveyed confessed to checking in on the business at least once a day. Not much of a vacation, huh?
The Root Cause
It is tempting to lay the blame for this inability to get away on the notion that business owners are often “Type A” personalities who are constantly on-the-go and finding new ways to grow the business. More likely, however, especially for businesses beyond the startup stage, is that the owner has not reduced his or her level of immersion into all operations even as the business has grown and matured. This may be due, in part, to the fact that most of us are creatures of habit. Deep and direct involvement with all aspects of the business may have been necessary when the business was young and small; but as it grew… well, let’s just say it can become difficult to break the pattern of being involved in everything.
Another factor may be a lack of trust – actual or implied – the owner has in subordinate personnel. It’s not necessarily that the owner thinks the staff is incompetent; it’s merely that they’ve not had full opportunity to prove themselves capable of managing sales or other business operations without the owner’s hands still on the wheel.
A Sales Action Plan is not Enough
Many businesses have a loose sales action plan and think that is enough. A sales action plan, however, can be inherently fluid, based only on evolving answers to key questions such as:
- What size sales pipeline do we need during the next sales period to achieve our goals?
- What do our “ideal clients” look like?
- What can we do for these clients better than our competitors can? And how do we articulate that difference?
These questions might have been answered via trial and error. As the business started, grew and adapted to change, the answers became clearer: sales pipeline goals known, ideal clients personified, and the value proposition necessary to win and serve those clients. But there’s another question that needs to be answered: What is the tactical plan to achieve sales goals?
That’s where the well-defined sales process comes in:
Using the Well-Defined Sales Process
A defined and carefully crafted sales process can help virtually any organization know where it is in terms of sales performance, where the organization is headed, and how to get there. The sales process is also beneficial to the business owner because it can help identify breakdowns in responsibility, authority or performance that keep the owner too involved in routine decisions and actions. Here are some other ways a strategically crafted and well-defined sales process can take stress off the business owner and make the organization more productive and successful:
- It becomes a predictable, repeatable and scalable sequence of events that removes guesswork and uncertainty.
- It employs a common language (throughout the entire company) for the sales process and each step along the way.
- It establishes the benchmarks by which the sales team can monitor progress – or lack of progress – toward identified goals.
- It helps the sales organization forecast future sales activity and revenue based on past performance.
- It makes it easier for new sales team members to get quickly up to speed as they learn how to reach prospects and turn them into customers.
And finally, it allows the business – and the business owner – to assign responsibility and authority for each step in the process. Of course, many business owners stay too deeply involved for too long in too many processes. Having a well-defined sales process doesn’t change that, but it can point out what should be obvious: the business is overly dependent on the owner making too many decisions at too many levels. Identifying the process and the ownership of each part of the process is a first step in making the right changes.
The Bottom Line:
An efficient and productive sales action plan demands a well-defined sales process. With the sales process in place, it can indicate where changes need to be made, both procedurally and in terms of responsibility. And once the well-defined sales process has been analyzed and fine-tuned, it’s possible that the business owner can more confidently take some much needed time off.
To learn more about how Sales Xceleration’s licensed Advisors can help define strategic sales processes and put effective sales action plans in motion, contact us today at 1.844.874.7253.