Solving Sales Problems
By: Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting LLC
What is a sales problem?
Sales problems can be difficult to define. Sales, like operations, finance, or HR, is a “part” of any organization. In general, I would define the sales department as the individual(s) who are primarily responsible for customer retention and net new customer acquisition. Put another way, Sales is responsible for getting money in the door, from both new and existing customer relationships.
Common sales problems include:
- Lack of new business
- Lack of growth from existing business
- Lack of conversions of leads into clients
- Loss of existing business to competition
Do you have a sales problem, or an operations problem?
Let’s look at that list of problems. Too often, sales issues really stem from a lack of operational maturity, versus a lack of skills, talents, or efforts on the part of the sales team.
Lack of new business CAN be caused by a salesperson or team not performing well. It can also be caused by a lack of understanding of what is required to develop a lead or move a prospect through the stages in your sales process.
As an aside: If you’re looking at that question and saying “Sales process – what’s that?” – you’ve discovered a bigger, more fundamental issue in your organization (Head over to https://randr.consulting/explore/white-papers/ and https://randr.consulting/how-to-build-a-sales-process/ for more information on that topic).
Lack of growth from existing business COULD stem from a salesperson not doing their job. It could also stem from a lack of investment in education and resources around recognizing opportunities (more information on that at: https://randr.consulting/recognizing-opportunities/)
Converting leads into clients MAY come from a salesperson not having the ability to close a deal. It could also come from a lack of investment in helping that salesperson perform proper discovery and how to overcome objections (you can read about overcoming objections here: https://randr.consulting/overcoming-objections/)
Loss of business to a competitor MIGHT stem from an ineffective salesperson or account manager. But it also MIGHT stem from not properly articulating expectations to that salesperson or account manager on how to reinforce value, communicate to a client, and manage crises in the relationship. (Those crises? They are opportunities in disguise – head over to https://randr.consulting/opportunity-in-crisis/ for more on that topic.)
Why are your sales reps struggling?
It’s probably time for you to look in the mirror.
Often, the issues with sales stem from the leadership of the organization – we expect salespeople to be unicorns, able to develop systems and processes, self-manage, and execute with no coaching, support, or educational resources. Sales is a skill, like technical expertise in a field, the ability to teach or coach, or listening, communicating, and documenting. You have to “work” at sales to be good at it.
If you’ve hired a rep, ask yourself the following questions:
- When did I last coach my representative on their expectations and performance?
- Do I have a sales process defined and documented?
- Have I dedicated resources (including budget) to sales training?
- Do I know the metrics that clearly define success for my sales team?
If you’re coming up blank on some or all these questions – it’s not your salesperson, or sales team for that matter, that is the problem. It’s you.
Process really is a superweapon when it comes to business improvement. One final item that I would be woe to not mention.
Hold everyone accountable
The best documented process, simple and easy to understand, supported by procedures, pictures, and with no assumptions, combined with a graceful error handling mechanism is worth NOTHING if you don’t hold people accountable. Have the awkward conversations around process adherence, and your process will return dividends.
If you’re struggling to develop process, or get your team to follow it, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.
Share this Post