In many small businesses the word “sales” has a negative connotation. Most employees don’t want to be called “sales people” and the president’s card does not list as the title, “salesperson”. The word president or chief operating officer or chairman of the board sounds much more impressive. In reality, in its initial stages, the founder has to be a salesperson. I believe that the founder always has to have the sales “lead” in a company.
An understanding of the differences between sales and marketing is important:
- Marketing is the process of cultivating awareness among potential clients.
- Sales is the process of converting those potential clients into paying clients.
In any size company the sales process becomes everyone’s responsibility. I heard this definition of “culture” in a business: What happens when no one is watching? In the case of sales, my experience is that when no one is watching, no one is selling. Getting sales is not a rare talent that is reserved for a few. Everyone can work at becoming a “rainmaker” for their businesses. They don’t have to be exceptionally good at it, but they have to know enough about their business to share a compelling story.
Many business owners create complicated business development plans and then hope that they can hire someone that can accomplish the desired results. A short story: a recent client hit their glass ceiling after 20 successful years in business. Their income leveled off and new competitors were getting more and more of their business. In analyzing their business, the owners have been doing all the sales, exactly the same way for the past 20 years. Their customer relations process was almost non-existent and their service has not been keeping up with industry changes. Their solution was to hire an MBA sales person to solve their problem. The solution I suggested was to redefine their service; do focus groups with their existing clients; create a business plan and redefine marketing and sales for their firm. With all sixteen employees we established weekly, hour long sales training. The four members in management became the lead marketing and sales team responsible for implementation of the newly developed marketing plan. At the end of two months income was back into a growth mode.
The marketing, sales and on-boarding process of new clients/customers has to be systematized. There is no such thing as a quick-fix when it comes to growing a company. The process has to be carefully developed and continually studied to make the necessary changes that the market place demands.
The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.
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