Why is it so hard to get the sales function right?

This blog post is aimed at the small to mid sized business. It’s a conversation I have often, so thought I would write about it: Why is it so hard to get the sales function in a (small) business right?

As business leaders and owners, we need to be good at 3 things:

  1. Be good at running the business
  2. Be great at delivering our business
  3. Be consistent at looking for future business

I want to focus on number 3. We all want the ‘magic bullet’ solution to getting sales. Despite the many online promises of ‘get rich schemes’ and ‘5 steps to sales success’, the truth is there isn’t an easy option.

I say this often to clients but sadly I have seen and heard about many failed attempts to hire a sales person. By definition they come across great at the interview stage – with impressive CVs and even more impressive sales records. Yet when they begin working, the truth soon emerges that they are not quite as good as they sold themselves to be! Now before I get lynched, I acknowledge that this isn’t always the case and there are some great sales people out there but in my experience they are few and fair between.

So you hire a sales person. That means you have ticked number 3 off your list and can focus on other things, right? However, you soon realise that they aren’t turning out to be all they promised, but you persevere – after all you invested a lot of time and money recruiting this person. After a few months, with them giving you lots of excuses including your product/service being difficult to sell in this market place, you give up and let them go. Back to the drawing board – maybe this time you should hire a junior telesales person instead of the senior person we had before? Nope, this won’t work either.

The truth of it is that YOU, the owner or leader of your SME business, are the best person to ‘sell’ your products/services and I put the word ‘sell’ in quotes because I believe a great sales person doesn’t sell at all but merely has a conversation with right person at the right time, talks with passion about their product/service and if there is a need, the sale happens naturally (yes, of course you still need to close the deal but the discussion feels more like a conversation than a sales pitch).

Where you need to invest your time an energy (in number 3) is getting your marketing right and understanding your sales funnel so you know what marketing and sales tools to develop at each stage of your sales funnel (have a read of my whitepaper on this very topic). Get your marketing right and qualified leads will drop out of the sales funnel, ready for you to go and have that conversation with them. The more thorough and methodical about this approach you are, the more successful your sales will be.

As I said earlier, this is a topic I have had many times so if you want to discuss your sales and marketing then get in touch and let’s have a conversation.

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