Why Your Company Needs a Sales Strategy & Operating Audit Now
Despite the pandemic it looks like the GDP will be off the Richter Scale in Australia in 2022. So how will businesses set themselves up to navigate the sales growth opportunities?
The answer: Conduct a Sales Strategy & Operating Audit.
However, sales strategy is too often neglected, says Sue Barrett, who argues it can be the difference between business failure and profitability.
For example, in December 2017, Sue met with the newly appointed Executive GM of a $4B publicly listed company operating in an essential wholesale and distribution channel. The business was in a whole world of pain including sales and share price in decline for several years, poor customer retention, internal silos and factions, no trained sales staff, and no sales go-to-market strategy, purpose, or value proposition; in its place were lots of shiny marketing brochures and golf days.
There had been several isolated attempts to fix the situation over 10 years, but nothing had worked. The Exec GM was at a loss as to what to do other than to revert to sales training – most leaders’ go-to solution. Sue said, ‘Your team will need training but not yet’.
Sue asked this Exec GM, as she had many other business leaders before and since, to go out on limb; be a bit adventurous and look at something different. Something better.
As Einstein said: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Sue asked this Exec GM to adopt a Sales Systems Approach, starting with conducting a Sales Strategy and Operations Audit to develop and deliver his sales-strategy-led recovery.
Working in concert with the Exec GM and his team, the Barrett team helped this business create a healthy sales operating ecosystem turning results around in less than 2 years:
From 10 years in negative growth territory, within 2 years sales went from minus 10% to plus 15%, and still tracking north in 2021
In 2020 sales continued trending upwards steadily around 12% in a challenging Covid market with competitors in decline by 30%
Dramatic increase in new customers flowing in and customer satisfaction
Dramatic uplift in ‘learn to earn curve’ for sales teams
Strong, unified, and committed leadership and sales culture at national & state level
Here’s what this client had to say in December 2019,
"The change has been outstanding. Two years ago, I couldn't have imagined that Sales would be in such great shape already by now. In 2 years, we’ve gone from minus 10% to plus 15% growth. I thought it would take years but here we are now with a fantastic sales team, sales infrastructure and processes, strategy and culture that is growing and making a huge difference to our business and our clients. As an accountant, I knew very little about sales but Barrett's Sales System, Strategy & Operations Framework and the Barrett team have steered us in the right direction.”
This is what Barrett calls Selling Better Faster, and they have plenty more success stories like this one.
Unfortunately, sales strategy and operation rollouts like this are still too uncommon. While sales strategy is vital to business success, it is often poorly understood and can be overshadowed by corporate and marketing strategies.
Barrett’s Sales Strategy & Operations Audit -which has been rolled out over 35+ companies across a range of industries since 2015- reveals that most of the businesses surveyed were only averaging just above 50 per cent across each of the 17 key sales markers and 60 subset elements for sales success. Areas such as sales metrics, salesforce development, market segmentation and pipeline management ranked the lowest, scoring less than 50 per cent. Given the breadth and depth of industries* benchmarked, this shows that poor sales strategy & operations practices are not limited to certain sectors.
However, once businesses can determine what to address and where to focus their efforts, the changes can be remarkable – as demonstrated in the case study above.
If a business is to realise its vision and grow, it needs to understand its market, it needs to create real value for its customers, and it needs to be adaptive to ever-changing circumstances – and that’s where a good sales strategy comes in.
*Industries include media, banking, insurance, engineering, education, medical products, manufacturing, industrial design, packaging, wholesale & distribution.
Sue Barrett: Founder & CEO Barrett Consulting Group and Salesessentials.com; Human Centred and Sustainable Business Growth & Sales Strategist; Sales Systems Specialist, Educator, Consultant, Writer, Change Agent and Advocate for Better Business; Helping people and businesses sell better now and sustainably into the future since 1995.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.