In my years in the glass and window business I have found too often that many sales people and even more, sales teams, are ill-prepared for sales. Too many sales people believe being on friendly terms with their sales prospects and customers will win the deal or get more business, that buying donuts or lunch will make all the difference. Many sales people cringe with accountability and reporting, and grumble about using Customer Relationship Management software.
If you’re a business owner, ask yourself if this would ever be acceptable for manufacturing, engineering, finance or any other operation. So why sales?
Sales is arguably the most important group in your business and yet, way too often I see that it is the most under-prepared. Forecast and scheduling are a best guess scenario; real growth is by chance.
So how do you rectify the situation? If you come down too hard, you will have a full-on revolt; if you don’t let people know you’re serious, they will regress. Well I suggest you take baby steps and instead of a full-blown restructuring, you choose the couple of items that you can implement that will have an impact. Then as time goes on, you can build upon it and over time transform your organization.
First things first, does your sales team try to see every potential customer in a given area, or do they focus their efforts on the ideal customer for your business? Are they looking for work that fits with your strengths as a company? And are they trying to sell products you don’t have or don’t do well just so they can win a sale?
I suggest you make a list of all the services or products you produce, then organize it by priority by which ones fit your production or service profile the best. If you have a very long list, maybe you should consider a consolidation or a purge of products/services that don’t fit well. This will add capacity for the products and services that do.
After you have done this, meet with your team and brainstorm. Get laser focused on growing the part of your business that you do best and that fits your business the best. The sales team may have to spend more time calling on select customers and less time calling on others. But you need to be insistent that this is the requirement.
Your sales team will gain confidence selling something they know you do well. Your production flow and efficiencies will increase, your cost of goods sold will go down, and your profitability will go up. Most of all, your customers will be happier and more satisfied as you deliver a valuable service.
Chad Simkins is vice president of Pleotint and vice president of sales for Thompson IG. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.