Sales is dynamic. It’s the bottom line and drives everything.
We need it, we need more of it, and we cannot survive without it. When sales is not working – it impacts your entire company.
So, when sales are down what is the appropriate thing to do? Should you hire a salesperson or invest in your sales engine? To completely answer this question we need to first break down sales.
Well everyone knows what sales is, right? Wrong! Truly understanding sales means understanding effective sales.
Every sales structure is made up of complex moving parts known as the sales engine.
You have representatives, revenue, profit, and customers that make up your sales engine; yet you must understand what sales mean for your organization.
Here are a few good questions to ask yourself when defining sales for your organization:
Sales is really all the above and so much more. Sales is the heartbeat of your organization. Making decisions regarding sales should be extremely calculated. Thoroughly evaluating all areas of your sales structure will help your team produce effective sales that meet your goals.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. And achieving your sales goals won’t happen overnight. Figure out where you are falling short before making decisions on how you are going to reform it. Simply hiring another salesperson or throwing money at your sales department may not be the answer. First you must take the time to understand and improve your sales engine - then you can begin decreasing your sales deficiencies. It's helpful to evaluate the following areas to identify your sales problem.
When experiencing inefficiencies in sales, try addressing the leader or the manager. If the person in this position is the root cause, making changes in other areas will only be short-term. You must have a leader that is driving your sales engine effectively to ensure all components are working cohesively. The wrong leader may also mean the wrong strategy. Does your leader utilize CRM technology? Does your leader prioritize lead generation programs and lead follow-up processes? The sales leader or manager can positively or negatively impact other people in your sales organization. Be sure your team is being managed, coached, and mentored in a manner that drives sales. Hiring another sales representative will not improve this issue.
You may be falling short of your sales goals because you have an ineffective sales strategy. Make certain that your company is targeting the correct markets for your product or service. Target the right size of companies and the right contacts inside those companies. What is your messaging for different markets and how does it meet their needs? All these questions can be answered through a focused sales structure. You can build out a robust multichannel approach for your company by investing in your sales engine.
People are the key to success. Do you have the right people in the right places? Are they effective? Are they generating the amount of activity you need for the roles they are performing? Are they self-motivated or do they require daily management? You may have the right strategy, the right message, effective processes, but simply the wrong person or persons executing the necessary functions. If this is the case, hiring a new salesperson may be exactly what you need.
This is a critical area because lead generation is what feeds your sales engine. Ask yourself if you have a lead generation program and process. If yes, are you sure it is operating at the necessary levels? If you do not have a lead generation program/process you will need to invest and implement this before bringing on any new team members. In today’s business climate, you need a lead generation program and process that is predictable, scalable, and able to produce the volume of leads required.
If your sales structure consists of sales reps working independently, without CRM and without a lead generation process, you leave yourself very vulnerable. When you invest in a sales engine and process, you minimize this exposure. A powerful sales engine and process will execute many sales activities through automation, thus enabling your sales team to meet objectives.
Lead follow-up is the number one sales deficiency I see inside sales organizations. A productive lead follow-up program and process can drastically improve your sales results.
Your lead follow-up process must be managed by your CRM and include defined cadences to ensure you are staying in front of all leads all the time. Perhaps sales are down due to not having a vigorous lead follow-up process managed by CRM. If this is the case, hiring another salesperson is not going to make the impact you need.
How effective are you at converting leads to sales? Do you know what your conversion rate is? How many leads turn to meetings? How many meetings turn to proposals? How many proposals turn to closed sales? There are many statistics out there to show what the average is for your industry.
Maybe it's possible your sales reps are not effective at closing deals. Remember, if your lead generation process and your lead follow-up process is effective - by the time the lead gets to a sales meeting, the lead has met all your criteria. Are you confident in the salesperson you put that lead in front of?
If you do not believe you have the right salesperson in place, hiring a new talent may be a good decision. Would you buy from your sales reps?
Lastly, CRM may be the reason sales is down. CRM is the hub of your sales engine. Everything revolves around CRM. Without it you are not able to generate enough activity to face the competition. And without CRM your sales group is inefficient. If you are not utilizing CRM, you need to look at your sales leader and ask why. It is a great resource that will improve your sales process.
Should you hire a sales rep, or should you invest in and improve your sales engine?
Understanding the components of your sales engine and identifying which components are underperforming will help you determine which direction you should go.
When considering hiring another sales rep, there are a few sales facts that we need to accept. These facts are as follows:
Sometimes, we convince ourselves that having more sales reps will automatically improve sales results. Often, hiring another sales rep is not even cost effective. In many cases you may not need to spend more money to correct or improve your sales results. Before making any decisions, make sure the sales and marketing dollars you are currently spending are being allocated appropriately and spent wisely.
Here's the reality. When sales are down, you need to identify if you have a people problem, a process problem, or both. Take the time to identify what and where your sales obstacle is before making any adjustments.