From a physicist’s point of view, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a certain change. So, how effective is your sales force in influencing prospects so that they become loyal customers?
Many companies have sale forces. Some companies use them properly. A sales force is a terrible thing to waste.
In the case of medium or smallish operations, the sales force has probably evolved from an ancestor that doesn’t necessarily resemble or preordain its contemporary descendant. Think of dinosaurs and birds. Who could have known…
So maybe the founder acted as sales rep as well as sales manager and everything else. Perhaps one of the original partners had an inclination towards sales and adopted the role. It is conceivable that some junior person was actually hired to run after sales (and I use the phrase literally). A sale would be made and then somebody had to run after the details. In any case, companies grow and then maybe somebody else is brought on board and before you know it the top sales person has been named sales manager and, if you are lucky, sales meetings happen. This, believe it or not, is not the way to set up and run a sales force.
It doesn’t matter how it started. People running businesses make decisions and often have to make do with whatever or whoever is at hand at the time. If you are successful, i.e. you are making more than you are spending and are experiencing more sales that you were this time last year, you are probably doing something right. Rule no. 1: Don’t take it for granted. There are so many reasons that may be the root cause of your success; you are a business genius, your competitors are useless, the customers you gained, liked you more as a person, the customers you gained were seriously peed off by the other guys, sheer chance… the list goes on. If you can not face your mother and without a hint of a blush tell her that you are the reason for your success, than you are well on the way to achieving your goals. If you are not 100% sure, substitute the ego trip with some good old-fashioned analysis and lots of time face to face with your sales people and customers.
Your sales force should be as big as it needs to be. Not bigger, not smaller. You need to determine the type and size of your sales force. What is the size of the market you are targeting? What sort of share do you realistically expect to gain and by when? Where are your customers located? How do you serve them? How many sales people do you need to create break – even sales?
Everything becomes easier if you spend some quality time learning about structured sales. This is where you stop leaving things to luck and “talent” and start building a sales infrastructure that supports a sales force that knows its targets, gets measured against them and delivers on them.
What you need to look at:
- Sales force structure
- How many sales people?
- Who looks after which customer?
- What are my sales channels? Key accounts? Telesales?
- What skills do my sales people need?
- What type of sales persons do I need?
- What type of sales organization do I need?
- Sales force infrastructure
- How do I support my sales force so that most of its time is spent face to face with customers?
- How do I manage the sales pipeline? (do we know what it is?)
- What software do I use?
- Sales force performance
- How do I measure sales force effectiveness and efficiency?
- How do I make the sales force passionate about achieving targets on all KPIs?
- What are the KPIs?
When sitting down to tackle this crucial subject, always keep in mind what is driving your business. What is that single crucial KPI that threatens to give you an ulcer if it isn’t where it should be and makes you want to kiss people in the office when it is? Then communicate to the sales force what is expected of them and get them to go about achieving it.