By Greta Schulz
CEOs today are in a quagmire. Because sales continue to be tougher than they used to be, they find themselves running their businesses and making CEO decisions, but also having to either manage a sales department or wear the sales hat themselves. What’s a CEO to do?
There are five things I think are imperative to do if you would like to make it through this crazy time. As things get better, it’s important to keep these things in mind for continued high revenue and low costs.
Scale down your existing sales staff.
If you haven’t already, decide which employees are the cream of the crop and get rid of the rest. How do you decide? By the 3 A’s.
The first A is Attitude: Do they have a positive attitude? If they can’t do things the way they always have, are they willing to look at their sales situations as opportunities and use every minute to look at things differently?
The second A is Activities: the actual pro-activities that they do to prospect every day, every week, every month. This could be a combination of cold-calling, networking, cross-selling to existing clients and strategic alliance meetings. Activities are different for everyone, but the ability to commit to whatever they are and stick to them day in and day out is imperative.
The third A is Approach: what your sales rep says and does in front of and on the phone with a prospect. The other two A’s cannot really be taught, this one can.
Teach your best people to sell in this environment with a specific process.
Selling needs to be taught – to attempt to be successful without teaching it these days is laced with potential failure. A process to sell doesn’t mean a memorized script. It means having an agenda of how your salespeople will approach each prospect, what questions they will ask, what they will do with the answers, how they will uncover the available budget, and what the next steps will look like.
Train your existing non-sales staff to be your marketing arm.
Sales training should not only be used for your salespeople, but for your non-salespeople as well. Often, we have non-salespeople in our organization that have contacts with our clients and potential prospects on a regular basis. Are they asking for referrals? Do they know how? The connections that exist within this segment of your organization are often overlooked, but are so important to utilize today.
Learn to manage a sales team through the 3 A’s.
Use your salespeople’s individual activities to help them track their success. A specific approach will allow you to have a real post-appointment discussion on what went right and wrong as opposed to the typical discussion, which often includes a conversation like, “So, how did it go?” “Pretty good, pretty good.” That tells you nothing.
Build your business on referrals and networking
Networking is a key way to build a business. It should also be done through a process. There are two reasons that we are not getting as many referrals as we should from existing clients:
1) We don’t ask. 2) We don’t ask properly.
Properly means you must be specific when asking for referrals –
either a specific person from a particular organization, the position of a person in a type of business, or an alliance of someone connected in the community that you haven’t met.
As we all work with the skeleton crew that we are left with, let’s work harder and better to make a success of our business. Getting back to basics: Is it ever smart to move far away from that? ¿
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is a best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1,000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.