Boy, am I stupid and an idiot! This was what I was feeling a month ago when I was sitting listening to my fellow EO forum member and great mate Kris Cochrane take our teams through sales training at our global retreat in the Philippines.
I shared in my last blog about the danger of lack of focus but there was one by-product that I neglected to mention. Somehow, we forgot about the importance of selling.
Like most entrepreneurs we focused so much on the product that we were selling rather than how we were actually going to sell it. This is the opposite of how Kris approached his (very successful) business, Rapid PT. He focused on working out how to sell his product first and then over time focused on improving his product.
We are an extremely process driven and training focused business. Unfortunately (but also fortunately) at the retreat we realised we had never actually spent the time to create a sales process and then train everyone on the team how to do it.
Looking back now, when Sarah and I first started our entrepreneurial journey and were responsible for every role in the business, we actually did have a sales process that we followed every single time. We also listened into to each other’s sales calls and provided feedback and coaching on how to do it better. It is clear now that is why we grew so quickly and smashed our goals initially.
Unfortunately, we assumed others could do the same naturally and neglected training people on the sales process and most importantly keeping them accountable to following the process. The great sales trainer Jack Daly says there is only one way to sell any product: “do not allow any salesperson to think that they can do it in their own way”. I am now totally agree with this statement.
Over the last few months I feel like I have done an equivalent of an MBA in sales and this is what I have learnt:
- Sell before you make it. The best way to gain feedback on whether you are creating a product that is interesting to people is to start selling it. It is better to have demand before you commit yourself to building anything.
- Sales is what fuels growth. If you sell more you will have more resources to make the product better.
- Your quality product/service won’t speak for itself. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, people still need to know about it, and be shown why they should buy it.
- A sales manager is very important. Salespeople need to be constantly kept accountable and they need regular feedback to improve and hit their targets. The sales manager needs to be in constant contact with their team to ensure they keep their finger on the pulse.
- Don’t promote your best salesperson to be your sales manager. When you do this you often lose out twice. Just because someone is a good salesperson does not mean they are a good manager. You will also lose sales because a person cannot do both roles at once.
- Give people the tools. In order to be great at anything you need to have the right. Ensure that your sales people are armed with clear best practices on what to do in different scenarios. Train them on who to approach, how to get in front of them and then how to add value to them, in order to get the sale.
- Recruit really well. Just like most things in business, it all comes down to the quality of people that you are recruiting. You need to ensure that you have the best person for the job. You can’t assume that because someone is a great speaker or relationship manager that they will be able to sell your product. Ensure that you determine the capabilities required by a person to sell your product and go out and find them.
- Marketing and sales need to relate. The purpose of marketing is to drive leads to sales. If it is not doing this then it is just noise. We were big victims of this. Now when we do any marketing we are always thinking with the end in mind. How is this going to get us sales?
We have let ourselves and our team down by not focusing enough on sales, and have paid the price for this. I strongly urge you to make sales your number one focus. A previous mentor of mine (who happens to be one of Australia’s most successful entrepreneurs) once said to me that “sales fixes everything”. I now truly understand and believe in this statement.