There is a science to sales. Despite rumors to the contrary, sales is really not magic. True, certain personality types have a proclivity to sales, but no, personality types alone will not determine the success or failure of sales efforts. From the perspective of a business owner, or a head of sales and marketing, the success or failure of sales efforts should depend on a disciplined application of several methods including:
- Creating a formal sales plan that includes a realistic, achievable and satisfactory (meaning sustainable) dollar (or any other currency) volume of sales revenue to be achieved on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual basis
- Plotting a useful chronological model of the sales cycle for the specific product or service sold by the business
- Calculating the number of prospect opportunities required to produce the volume of sales revenue required to meet the business plan given the amount of time (chronological length of the sales cycle for the product or service you are selling)
- Reporting regularly (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually) on actual activity undertaken to deliver a successful result to the sales plan. These regular reports should include summaries of sales activity, prospect lists, lists of prospects who have expressed an interest in buying the product or service including a record of whether or not identified prospects went ahead and bought the product together with an assessment of why the sale did or did not happen
In my experience, merely the ability to deliver successfully on points one through four often spells the difference between success and failure for a business. Fact is that most managers and businesses lack the stamina and determination to follow through on each of these critically important steps. Realistically, simply following through with these steps can open an opportunity to redesign products or services that have not been thoroughly thought through, effectively buying time to “change the wheels” on the “bus” while you “drive”.
Of course, the question then becomes whether these methods will produce a remedy sooner, or later. The preference is always for sooner, but really the “heavy lifting” in the area of product management is the responsibility of marketing, not sales. The boon and the bane of it is that sales can continue to trudge along regardless of the success or failure of product marketing; hence the close alignment, as I see it, between sales and marketing for businesses with new technology that operate under the radar.
Over time, the practice of these methods will provide management with the most accurate picture of what it takes to successfully operate. Plan on the initial effort to be a crap shoot. Be willing to revise on the fly.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved