I have noticed over the last year that those companies with effective sales forces are the ones that are prospering in the current downturn, and are generally showing year to year sales gains. We have three courses to help you fix your sales forces, all based on our experience from the last year or so, and while they aren’t exactly Harvey McKay, the techniques are successful. As are our hiring techniques using profiling of attributes.
However, as a small business owner, if you’re the chief sales person, what do you do? This is the majority of our readership. You’re the sales force! Here a few ideas:
1. Start delegating non-sales tasks to others, items that take away from your selling activities. This seems to be a good idea up to about 10 employees. We have two clients in Solutions Forum who have recently done this, and it seems to be working for both. Both appointed sort of a chief operations officer to run operations, taking much of the pressure off the owners.
2. Set yourself a time each day to make sales calls, either from home in the morning, or in the afternoon. Again, this might require delegating some tasks to others, but sales are critical to your business. If you’re beyond 10 employees and still doing all the sales calls, you need to consider replacing yourself once or twice. We find that about $2k/mo plus commissions, is a pretty good place to start, but comp plans are all over the map, and probably vary widely by region. But, list the attributes that you want, that you have, as a starting point. Be hardcore in getting what you want; talent is out there.
3. If competition seems to have sprung up in the last couple of years, what changes to what you do should you think about? Beef up service, stock more parts, make your line, plus some, available on the internet. In general, get your thinking cap on. Sometimes we just get too caught up in day to day stuff to focus on the big picture.
4. Sure, it might be a financial drain, but once you’ve formulated it, write it down and discuss with two or three business bankers. They’re out there, among the smaller community banks, who will value your business. Big banks are lending to bigger firms.