To get to growth – get serious about sales

You would have thought with European market falls of between 4-13% since 2007, and China 10% behind their growth targets this year alone, most businesses would have pushed growing their sales as a central priority? What is the difference between a shining star and dog in VC portfolio that you can’t sell – growth. Our work has seen a consistent set of challenges, but let’s check…

Do you have a war room that explicitly contains your plans versus competitors? Have you all the key information on your biggest competitors, and evidence of your successes in one easily accessible place?

On the flipside, you must have a golden goose? When did you last face the golden goose? Has your goose recently become expert in weather forecasting? Do their sales teams spend their working week talking about structure, rewards, the flat market, economy, weather, sales and channel allocations and other aspects of non sales related activity? What is your goose good at and where are their blind spots?

We find too many firms have failed to recognise is that their salesmen have forgotten how to sell. They stop short of the hard facts, and worse don’t have the data or skills, leaving executives with no choice but to chop the business back, leaving the organisation left doing the same as before but with a lot less resource, more unsatisfied customers and lower sales! ‘Extend and pretend’ becomes a corporate cycle of denial -> chop -> win -> denial.

This is all hidden within a lot of corporates that operate on an international base. They have been hit by drops in European activity, but are still sitting pretty on boat loads of cash. However, below their radar sit many UK-centric businesses without a broader international footing and these have been very badly affected by local market contraction. It’s interesting to us that BOTH these locally-focussed and internationally-rooted businesses have the same untapped opportunity – they have forgotten how to sell

If you want to get serious about growth, you have to get serious about sales.  Management don’t seem to have the courage to face the brutal facts, they need help to develop the awareness, focus, skills experience and ability to cut through the internal noise and get to the brutal facts. Once there, how many are prepared to take the right action, right now and consistently moving forwards? For sales to really succeed, the business needs to be aligned behind customers. For customers to be satisfied they have to be dealing with a motivated organisation with the CEO driving strategy and clearly evidencing this through Marketing, Operations and Supply Chain functions. Implementation requires effective teamwork.

Where we excel is in using our award-winning experience to infuse an organisation with a highly motivated readymade team – all wearing the company fleece to deliver this across the business. With our help, businesses have been able to support transition across the whole organisation – making step changes to maximise, measure and deliver measurable improvement.

We find most organisations only use about 15% of these sales tool and opportunities;

  • Effective customer segmentation
  • Continuous refocus of product range and key marketing messages
  • Pricing strategy
  • Product commercials, and sales process segmentation to suit the nature of the purchase
  • Recognising that not all customers are good customers –improve your margin by 5%+
  • Multi-channel marketing and social media
  • Build on existing process and resource successes – what is working, and who buys what

This is common – leaving an 85% gap giving rise to a c35% revenue shortfall. So let’s say the market has dropped 20% then this 35% upside mitigates the gap to net 15% growth. The good news is that the competition is dreadfully slow to respond and it’s easy to take action and there is plenty of good practice to replicate. Of the 235 documented case studies here are 2 recent ones to make the point;

Case Study 1

We led a multi channel retail turnaround. Management had destroyed their business through discounting. We engaged and delivered a robust plan with KPI’s and regular follow-up gave the team the clarity and confidence to manage their business units, and solid platform and business plan from which to refinance and grow the profitably business by 30%. The business has now been refinanced, so now it’s back to the sales plan!

Case study 2

In a building products group, the key was having the sales team understanding the whole sales process, and focussing on your best customers. When people can see the full picture, rather than their little piece, not only do they perform better but the customer gets a better service. By focussing on the best customers, margins improved by 5%, follow-up costs fell by 70%; win-win; far better service to your core customers from a smaller cost base.

In response to this common challenge icebreaker have launched a focussed “get to growth” offer. This brings your team to a consensus of where you are now and where you would like to be, with a 100% focus on leaving a successful enduring legacy.

In half a day we get everyone with an opinion in a room and guide them through a process of where are we now and where do we need to be, challenged using our best practice models as a framework. The other half day enables your team to identify and prioritise the gaps, and then, agree the actions to close them. This process is cost-effective and quick best of all, people feel they own the outcome and buy into the need for change because they created it themselves!

Beyond this we provide professional oversight and troubleshooting resource with the integrity and courage to support executives and below through their perceived roadblocks and develop effective teamwork to enable them to stick to and deliver the plan. When your team can do it excellently better themselves we will go.

If you don’t have a shiny management team that is leading a company that is top of its sector, then it really is hard to sell in the current market. This program is about creating that shining star.

Karl Zierold heads up “get to growth program”; he would be delighted to take your call; 07808 141310,