Every day, account managers are dealing with new emerging competitors, downsizing prospects, and enlarged sales quotas. Success requires special sales training methods and a company-wide process where all departments are responsible for company revenue.
The key to success is premeditated, outbound business development.
In traditional firms (start-ups and Fortune 1000 firms included), vice presidents of sales live or die by the success of monthly revenue plans that were forecasted twelve months earlier. They are the hero or the goat depending on how the revenue numbers hit that month. This evaluation process is an immature method used to determine revenue success (or failure). Often used by investors, it ignores the fact that corporate revenue (or lack of it) can be a symptom of a greater problem with the firm’s business strategy.
To succeed today, firms need to focus on the integration of all of their revenue elements of business development. When one singular department fails to contribute, it directly affects all corporate sales opportunities. At that point, it is not the sales department’s failure to generate revenue, it is the company’s failure.
The four current business development elements are:
- Strategy and Product/Service Development
- Financial Management
To succeed, we need all of these departments to be positioned equally in responsibility as partners in revenue generation. In this economy, there can be no silos.
That means senior managers of marketing, strategy, and finance need to be assigned a line position with the appropriate responsibilities and compensation.
The result is that sales, strategy and marketing all have a sales quota. Working in concert, being paid as a team, their decisions and responsibilities will be centered on helping account managers sell more.
If your firm has not aligned these elements with equal compensation based on total revenue, assigned milestones based on a group performance, or implemented weekly goals for each manager based on revenue producing expectations, then it is time to change.
Today, companies can no longer afford high-priced sales executives or support departments who don’t carry revenue goals. Instead, line managers are needed to represent all departments working in concert to generate revenue.
Remember, it is not the sales department’s responsibility for revenue… it is the company’s responsibility.
5 Common Mistakes in Sales
Mistake No. 1: Most salespeople shoot from the hip. Let’s be honest. Sales is a premeditated sport. To be successful, you need to prepare every step of sales cycle. Amateur salespeople wing it. When meeting clients for the first time, presenting to CEOs, or negotiating contracts, always sit down and plan your actions, talking points, and methodology in order to win business. Many salespeople become lazy and interact with customers based on the salesperson’s previous experience with a particular kind of client. Professional salespeople know that every client is different and in this competitive economy, preparation wins business.
Mistake No. 2: Salespeople do not cold call. No, it’s not the favorite playtime of salespeople, but if you wait for your marketing department or your inside sales force to find qualified leads, your competition may already be locking down a big deal in your territory and you will be too late to join the game. To increase your quota success, add cold calling to your schedule every day
Mistake No. 3: Salespeople underestimate the importance of the client presentation. Fifty percent of all sales are won through the presentation. It is the only time when most of the decision makers are in the room and can be educated as a team about the unique characteristics of your product or service. To increase closing ratios, focus on the content and process of your presentation. Prepare to present.
Mistake No. 4: Salespeople do not stay in touch with their prospects. Selling is also a contact sport. You need to interact with your prospect on a timely basis. You should touch the client every week with some communication device (email, letter, brochure) prodding them to move their buy cycle closer to your sales cycle. Prospects have short memories. Don’t let a more ambitious competitor steal your prospect because they are more visible in their communication.
Mistake No. 5: Salespeople underestimate the competition. In sales, it is kill or be killed. When selling a client, always assume that there is competition until you see a signed contract or purchase order. Several years ago, a study revealed that Fortune 1000 companies were negotiating with an average of four companies on the last step of a purchase. Simultaneously, only half of the time did the buying companies tell the vendors how many players had made the short list. Never assume you got the deal, until it is signed.
We expect all our businesses to have a positive impact on our top and bottom lines. Profitability is very important to us or we wouldn’t be in this business.
–Jeff Bezos, CEO/Founder, Amazon.com