I’d like to tell a couple of stories today, and I suspect you’ll probably nod your heads and recognize some of the scenarios.
There was a sales team that I knew, and they did okay. They were close to quota, but never really blew it out, nor completely bombed. I asked the manager why? Well, one of the five sales reps always did great! Two struggled, and two were just okay. Why was that? Well, some reps have good habits and skills, and some don’t. Some are trainable, and some are not.
When you go through the process of examining your team, examining your sales process, and analyzing the territories you assigned each one, you can figure out ways to optimize your team. The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon has great tools for analyzing your team. A proven sales process that I’ve always had good results from is MEDDIC. Google it. Lots of info out there.
In another situation, there was a small business that was actually up for auction. It was a father-son operation, and they had maybe a couple dozen employees. When I asked them why they were closing down, they said they had a few key accounts they had relied on for years, and when the biggest one pulled their business, they had nothing to backfill the orders with, so after a year or so of struggling, they closed down because they had not been actively pursuing new accounts well enough in advance. How sad!
In my experience, a lot of people just expect orders to come in. They rely on word-of-mouth and a good reputation for customer service to bring new business to the front door, but I have to say that the only thing that brings visitors to the front door is leaving your trash out too long, and that’s just usually raccoons!
Listen, sales isn’t natural. Business development takes a certain type of person, and a deliberate approach. Not everyone is wired for it, but everyone needs it. There are some basic skills that everyone can learn to be a little more wired toward finding new business. If you add some element of compensation or award for all of your employees’ plans, you may “awaken a sleeping giant” for your team to start finding new business instead of just thinking, “oh, that’s the boss’ job.”
That is our hope for everyone: that all of our customers and partners can embrace even just a slightly more of a hunting mindset. Trust me, it works wonders!