From the top of a company’s executive structure, the view is all about the future.
The only way that board members, investors and other key stakeholders will remain satisfied or enthusiastic about company sales force performance is if that future looks profitable and bright, and if forecasts are continually met or exceeded.
All the explanations in the world for financial losses, while they may be completely logical, will not pacify such stakeholders. However…
It of course takes every department in a company pulling its weight in order for that company to succeed:
- Public relations must have the broad reach to all forms of media (including social networking) to create positive buzz about the company and its products or services.
- Marketing must generate plentiful interest in the company’s products from potential customers.
- Those responsible for delivery must make sure products or services are well received in a timely manner.
- Accounts Receivable must make certain the company is getting paid.
- Tech support and Customer Service must do their parts to ensure customers are kept happy and satisfied.
But after PR has spread the news and marketing has generated leads, and the remainder of the company has put in a satisfactory performance, it is always down to the sales force to make or break that company’s bottom line.
What is the best way to help ensure that bottom line is always headed in the right direction?
Importance of Sales Force
Some companies make the mistake of considering the sales force as “just another department”—a group of employees just like the rest of the staff, albeit with somewhat unique skillsets. This is, in fact, a shortsighted view, and a closer examination of any successful sales force will bear this out.
A sales rep is, in actuality, an entrepreneur within the enterprise. What are the qualities of an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur sees opportunity that others often miss. They possess the ability to turn that opportunity to their advantage. They often have creative ideas and inspirations that “normal people” would never have. They have highly advanced communication skills. They prefer to create their own incomes, rather than rely on salaries.
These are the very same qualities possessed by every great sales rep that ever sold. Hence it will be found that any company that actually considers the sales force with these entrepreneur qualities in mind—welcomes their input, gives them as much latitude as possible to control their own sales, keeps administrative duties to a minimum, and even invites their input into product development—will find that their reps sell more and enthusiastically.
But there is one more factor that, if applied, will take sales into an even higher level.
Sales Force Skill Improvement
It will be found that after a sales rep has been on the job for awhile that their closing ratio tends to remain in the same range. There are factors that can temporarily affect the individual salesperson for better or worse—sales games, discount programs, incentives or, on the downside, personal emergencies or family issues—but over the long term it will tend to remain relatively stable. Multiply this condition across the entire sales force, and you see that the overall average closing ratio remains relatively static as well.
What might happen if that overall closing ratio were to steadily improve? That would mean that sales forecasts would steadily improve also, along with the possibilities of meeting them. And of course the company’s bottom line would be steadily climbing, too.
The improvement of those closing ratios comes about through the steady and continuous selling skill improvement of each and every rep on the sales force. When effective continuing education is made part and parcel of every salesperson’s job, they become constantly better at what they do. They sell and close in greater quantities. Beyond that, they gain an increasing measure of confidence both personally and as a sales team which has a direct effect on their sales as well.
Overall, constant sales force improvement has an impact that is felt from one end of the company to the other—from the shipping clerks to the boardroom. Implement it at your company, stand back and watch your sales climb into whole new ranges.
Look for our other articles in sales rep skill improvement.