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It’s tough being a sales director these days

You’ve probably got good people, good products or services and good customer relationships. You’ve also got an aggressive target to grow business in an uncertain and tough economy. Achieving the numbers is going to need something more than just asking your team to work harder.

It’s a challenge we’re often asked to help our clients address so I thought I’d share some of the things we see make a difference.

Focus and attention to detail are key.

Many companies have diversified or expanded their products / services and/or sought out different markets or customer profiles to counter the economic challenges to their core business. It makes good commercial sense but there are challenges to making this strategy work in practice. In many cases, either the sales team hasn’t responded and is still largely selling the same things to the same customer types or they’ve become scattergun and are trying to sell everything to anybody. Neither of which is delivering optimal results.

So:

1. Focus resources on the customers and portfolio mix that will deliver the best return

  • Profile your markets – it’s not simply about demographics but also about behavioural characteristics. The tighter your resources, generally the more granular your profiling needs to be. In Phoenix, for instance, we know that we get great results for mid-sized companies selling in complex or technical B2B settings who are facing the types of challenges we’re discussing here.
  • Profile and align your portfolio with your customers – and what do you do for them?
  • Analyse your main competitors – what makes you successful against them?

2. Define your value

  • Be very clear about the business value you deliver to your target markets or accounts and how you differentiate against your competitors.

3. Pay attention to the details

  • One of the reasons good relationships are not enough is the growth in ‘consensus-based’ decision making which requires a much wider support base. Assess your key accounts – make sure you understand their business, their goals, their opportunities and challenges. Map your stakeholders ad be clear about their roles and influences in decisions
  • Develop a plan to get closer to and deliver greater value to your customers and prospects  - and stick to it!

One of our clients, Dave Goodman Sales Director at dental specialists, W&H, sums it up like this.

“The dental sector is tough economically but we see real growth potential. Deeply understanding our dealers is key to this – we won’t achieve our goals by just being nice, easy people to deal with. We have to work closely with the dealers who want to grow their business with ours - and then bring them real business value”.

Of course, this is all easy to say, not so easy to embed consistently across the whole sales team.

It’s about being clear on approach and implementing a structure that ensures everyone in your team is focused on the activities that will yield the best results, without stifling individual personality and style.

That’s where our proven framework, training and coaching come in.

Recently we’ve helped our clients focus on the right customer profiles, retain and grow their existing customer revenues through cross-portfolio selling and enhance the way they share and learn from each other.

If you’d like to talk through your challenges, we offer a free consultancy conversation to discuss and make recommendations for your specific business so please get in touch