Today, many CEO’s are caught in a quagmire. They find themselves running their businesses, making executive-level decisions, yet having to either manage a sales department or wear the sales hat themselves. What’s a CEO to do today?
There are five sales-related things that every CEO should consider to ensure your company makes it through volatile and ‘crazy’ economic times. Interestingly enough, these things should also be done when things aren’t so crazy.
1. Scale back your existing sales staff.
Take a closer look at your sales team, determine the cream of the crop — and get rid of the rest. How do you decide? By the three A’s.
The first is Attitude. Do they have a positive attitude? A belief that if they can’t do it the way they always have they are willing to look at their sales situations as true opportunities and use every minute to look at things differently.
The second is Activities. Activities are the actual proactive steps they take to prospect every day, every week and every month. It could be a combination of cold-calling, networking, cross-selling to existing clients, strategic alliance meetings etc. Activities are different for everyone, but the ability to commit to whatever they are and stick to it day in and day out is imperative.
The third is Approach. The approach is what your sales rep says and does in front of and on the phone with a prospect. The other two cannot really be taught, this one can.
2. Teach your best salespeople to sell in this environment with a specific process.
None have ever sold in a more volatile time like this before. Selling is something that needs to be taught, but if you attempt to be successful without it your business is doomed to potential failure.
A selling process doesn’t mean memorizing a script. What it means is an agenda of how your sales team will approach each prospect, the questions they will ask, what they will do with the answers, how they will uncover the available budget and address next steps.
3. Train your existing non-sales staff to be your marketing arm.
Sales training should extend beyond your sales organization to non-sales staff as well. Often we have non-salespeople in our organization that have contacts with clients and potential prospects on a regular basis. Are they asking for referrals? Do they know how? The connections that exist with this segment of your organization are often overlooked.
4. Learn to manage a sales team through the 3 “A’s”.
As previously discussed, the three A’s are the basis of sales success. Additionally it is the easiest and most effective way to manage your team. Keep an eye and ear out for a positive attitude. If you see or hear a negative one, which is easily identified through excuse making, cut it out immediately. Use salespeople’s individual activities to help them track their success. A specific sales approach, will allow you to have a real post-appointment discussion on what went right and wrong as opposed to the typical discussion which includes, “So, how did it go?” and your sales rep replies, “Pretty good, pretty good!” This tells you nothing.
5. Build your business on referrals and networking with no cash.
Today networking is the way to build a business. Don’t get me wrong. There is obviously a place for strategic marketing, but to help get you through tough times, secure your brand by being out there in the community.
Networking is something that should also be carried out through a process. Additionally, keep in mind that you are not getting as many referrals as you should from existing clients because a) you don’t ask and b) you don’t ask properly.
Properly simply means you must be specific when asking for referrals. Ask to connect with a specific person from a particular organization, a position in a certain type of business or an alliance of someone connected in the community that you haven’t met.
Today is the day to work harder and smarter. Getting back to basics is the key ingredient to your company’s future success.