While most CEOs are reading and learning about how to make their companies more successful, it is well worth a person’s time to stop and take a moment to consider the habits of those companies that are not as successful so as you can avoid them.
The sales department is a major contributor to the success record of the company.
If you don’t get the top-line right, then the bottom line can only stay positive for a short period in time and a failing bottom line affects profits and shareholder values.
With the daunting fact that some 69% of sales agents fail to deliver, business owners must ask “what are the constants that place sales agents in that position?”
Are they untrained, unmanaged or just plain unlucky?
When you look more closely at the issues, you can see it is actually that they have developed bad habits.
There are many lessons to be learnt and warning signs to take heed of when you look inside the habits of those sales agents that are just not delivering.
If I break down to the raw facts of where the sales agents have often failed, it can be defined as habits.
There are six key habits that hinder any sales agent’s ability to deliver a successful sales strategy.
Let’s go deep into these habits.
Many companies are extremely busy doing business and not looking at the business. Once the sales strategy is set down, sales agents breathe a sigh of relief and just start charging forward.
If the plan was not deep enough or sufficient information gathered to develop the plan, then most of their strategy is based on subjective or hearsay information.
This leaves them exposed to surprise changes in competitors, customer demands and economies.
They are measuring revenue and margin as their indicators and very little else.
This may sound unusual as they are both important measures, but the problem is for most technical-based sales companies is that the financial results are historical and you can’t change history.
The next challenge is the technical based sales companies often have a sales pipeline extending some six-plus months into the future.
It is full of proposals already in play that have set the pricing and offers that need to be delivered if the proposal is successful.
Those pipelines may well have written the script of failure. It is hard to turn around a business that has a long pipeline of the wrong business.
Sales leaders look at milestones typically through revenue eyes rather than looking deeper into the business to ensure the right behaviors, and practices are occurring that will contribute to the milestones.
They are unsure of what months one, three, five, six and so on will even look like.
If they are introducing new products, opening new sales channels, then milestones become critical elements and must go well beyond the traditional revenue view.
Sales agents are the best at selling themselves on their good plan or strategy.
They are even better at selling those around them. Many sales agents become so engrossed in their sales strategy and where they are heading.
They don’t stop and check to see what is really happening. They fail to shift from seller mode to analysis mode.
In the short term, sales strategies can be less of a problem. But in the long term, sales strategies surrounding new products and sales channels becomes a major problem.
They need to be re-evaluated regularly to ensure their effectiveness in the market and how you taking them to market is also the most effective.
The larger the organization the more likely there is a lack of urgency. Sales agents often ride on the wave of momentum that has been created by the longevity of the business.
They have a feeling of comfort that the business will continue to flow.
Therefore, their priority of time and action is waylaid to focus on the small items of the day to day rather than the mid-larger items, that require more attention and time to complete.
Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest falloff points of any unsuccessful business.
There is a feeling of assumption across the sales leaders that as they have asked for something to be done, then it must have been done.
It may well be that their own personal work ethic but it is certainly not the ethic of those working around them.
What has not been followed-up upon is most likely not going to be completed.
These simple habits can have catastrophic impacts on companies or businesses over a sustained period of time.
These habits are all that are referred to as ‘slow burners.
Meaning they will not stand out major problems at the time but as evident, over time and in hindsight you will look back and see their presence caused the slow decline of the organization sales.
Your company may already be in a state of decline without you really pinpointing the contributing factors.
You may have seen other habits that you would like to add to this and we would be interested in your comments.