This post is an honest attempt to demonstrate that understanding your business’s sales process and identifying what’s working, and what could be improved is as important as understanding your financial strength and technology.
Companies do financial audits at a minimum every quarter, and there are always checks and balances to measure their financial strength. And forward-thinking companies will generally do an annual tech audit to measure their tech stack to see if they are taking advantage of improvements in speed, efficiency, and security. With those as “table stakes,” a company should know about its sales process. A detailed and thorough look under the hood should include evaluating the sales team and their sales approach, their compensation and commission plans, marketing, PR, and even the sale automation tools being used or not. Frankly, it’s critical to look at all of the elements of sales and those functions that support the sales team and the sales process.
That is not to say that operations or other areas like development aren’t necessary. It takes all functions to make a successful company, but sales are the typical first place one looks when growth slows down or worse, a company seems stuck!
Product Marketing Collaboration
But beyond the pure sales process, let’s touch on the product because that is what the team is selling. Does the product have an MVP (minimum value prop)? Does it solve a pain point for users, and where does it fit in the marketplace? Without these basics, sales will be hampered or struggle to answer these questions independently, which isn’t ideal.
Then there is marketing and PR. One key area to consider is how well are marketing and sales working together? Are they pointing fingers at each other rather than working collaboratively?
Gahan Wilson did a cartoon, and it’s a dog on the leash of his owner, and they’re pulling each other in the opposite direction. The speech balloon over each of them is saying “idiot.” I have used this many times when describing sales and marketing. It’s when they are not fulfilling each other’s objectives and, more importantly, aren’t mutually aligned.
And I also want to point out that these suggestions like a sales eval, aligning marketing and sales just having the right go-to-market strategy apply equally to small businesses and giant corporations. These are universal problems and can affect small and large companies and even startups.
Other than the sales process, there are many sales enablement tools such as HubSpot, Seismic, Active Campaign, and on and on….use them but do be overly dependent on them.
Be The Master of Your Domain
Finally, one of the things I strongly suggest for sales organizations today is that it’s no longer good enough to know your products; you have to be an SME of your products. You have to be a subject matter expert for your product and company. And you have to be an SME of your customer. Where does your fit? How do you help them? I don’t care if it is software, data, research, or service. How does what you do allow your client? Do their jobs better make their lives better? Easier, whatever. A great sales customer relationship is something everyone in sales strives for…that consultative place, you know, in a relationship with your prospect or customer where you’re supporting their decision making, they’re coming to you as a trusted adviser. That’s Nirvana that with you get to that point. That’s huge. And that takes time. No salesperson today should be making cold calls.
The web allows you to be prepared for anything today, and it is simple. It takes 15 minutes of research on, you know, your prospect, you know, did they make a recent offering? You know, did they make a product announcement? Did they do a management change? And whom you’re talking to, as an example, what was their background? You know, what college did they go to? It sounds so trite and sort of simple. But it’s so true. I mean, people are people, and relationships matter.
I hope some of this resonates and helps refocus and change how you view sales in your organization…