The past few weeks I have been sharing the how the sales function evolves as your business matures through the growth cycle. First we looked at sales in the foundation stage and then sales in the survival stage. Now, we want to look at how sales management changes in the self-sustainability stage.
When your company gets to this point of maturity the focus begins to turn to delegating and establishing processes so that others are doing all the work – sales management. If you’ve followed my advice in the previous growth stages then this should be a fairly simple transition.
What I often find is that none of the work suggested in the previous stages has occurred. So, what happens now is you have to stop and go back to complete what wasn’t completed before and put all the sales management in place. This usually means establishing all the “best-practices” for sales management. Read the post title “5 Critical Sales Actions if the Survival Stage” to get a better idea of what you should have done already.
Implement Your Sales Management Process
If you followed my directions in the survival stage then you should have a pretty good idea of what it takes to sell your product and/or services. The key is it’s written down so that others can follow it!
You may need to organize it, but that is the easy part. What I usually find is that all the knowledge about how to sell the product or service is locked in the owner or their sales reps heads. It doesn’t help the company there. The self-sustainability stage is all about making your business “run by itself!
Hire a Sales Team
Once you have a sales manual or guide you’re ready to begin hiring a sales team. The sales team is more than just hiring more reps. You need a sales manager too.
Many small business owners are ok hiring the reps. But, they become terrified by the thought of hiring a manager! I believe this is often because they fear losing control by delegating this aspect of their business. But the loss of control is really a fallacy. They have even less control by not letting go! That’s because they are always controlled by their own ability to handle a finite amount or work and become the chokepoint for sales in their own company.
Often the fear stems from not understanding how to create the necessary sales management systems to manage the sales function and the sales manager they need to hire. Sales management is not as difficult as you might think, but it is not something that is taught in the classroom. It is usually learned in the trenches, so many owners don’t know how to do it. Our program “Selling By the Numbers” demystifies the process of sales management for most small business owners.
Train Your Team Using Your Sales Process
If you’ve implemented your process and begun hiring your sales team, then training the team is the obvious next step. This seems pretty straight forward. But again, if you didn’t document things in the survival stage, then how do you train someone now?
A big failure I see is trying to use “on the job training” (OJT) to teach a sales rep. While you need to take a rep out on calls and get them familiar with the products/services, materials, and pitch, what happens when you send them out on their own?
They will only do those things that they remember. If they don’t have scripts or checklist to follow, the chance that they will be successful is a crapshoot! By giving them the support tools they need to be successful you increase their chance for success as well your return on investment.
Disengage from Day-to-Day Selling
This is a hard one! In fact, a lot of owners tell me, “I don’t want to stop selling. I love it!” That’s not the point. You must be able to disengage from the sales management or you have not reached the self-sustainability stage of the growth model.
Remember, the self-sustainability stage has a major decision point – disengage or build a big corporation by moving to the rapid growth stage. If you decide that you want rapid growth, you will need to pass more and more selling off to others or your sales capacity will always be limited by what you can handle.
Another factor to consider is that capital will be a key resource in rapid growth. Capital will be hard to come by if you are a key component in your company’s ability to scale the sales function.
You can take on any role you chose as you move forward in your business as long as you can demonstrate two things. First, your business does not require you in that role to operate. And second, that you have the necessary skills and experience to accomplish what must be accomplished.
Ready, Set, SELL!
So there you have it. Your sales objectives to achieve the self-sustainability stage of the business growth model. Have you done what you needed prior to getting here? If not, what is your plan to get the survival stage sales objectives completed?
If they’re not completed yet, you are not really in the self-sustainability stage yet. I recommend that you take a step back and accomplish what you need to accomplish and then press on. The online training course Calculating Your Revenue Engine’s Horsepower can help you get your actions prioritized.
If you are struggling to get your arms around you sales department contact me. We have spent nearly 2 decades assisting dozens of companies in putting the right sales management systems in place to scale their sales operations. We look forward to adding you to our list of successful clients!