Without sales nothing happens. Your great product and warm service happen after the sale is made. Otherwise, they are irrelevant.
However, selling on its own is not an isolated function. Your entire business is in the business of sales. The idea of silos in your organization is an artifact of the industrial age. We were able to isolate functions and pass the part or the customer down the assembly line from sales to onboarding to service.
Ultimately, every part of your business that affects and touches the customer becomes a part of ongoing selling. It is part of the customers’ experience and opinion of who you are.
In a world of infinite choice, this is an important and often lost fact for managers and owners that are trying to improve their sales.
Yes, your sales organization plays a large direct role in helping a prospective customer make a decision. And the energy and focus to build a world-class sales engine does revolve around a strong selling team and up front process. With this focus is the integration of your operations, support, marketing and development as well.
With this in mind, growing a sales engine that produces consistent and continual revenue requires leadership and execution around some key areas.
Identify Key Sales Activities
There are some activities that impact the customer more than others. You may need to experiment to discover what creates connection and buying.
But it is likely that a lot of what works has been proven over thousands of sales attempts. The key sales activities that influence a person’s decision to do business need to stand out and be part of a bigger process that will work predictably.
Create Systems that Make Selling Easier
With your key sales activities identified, creating systems and processes that automate tasks and help follow-up provides speed, consistency and quality service.
Every sales process differs and will require touch points that have both nuance and personalization based on who your customer is. Automation and systems provide rails to run on. But the hard work of providing value and not interrupting people has to be created and tested continuously to end up with a system that will work.
Provide Strong Sales Management
Just because you built a process and system does not eliminate the need for management. You have to manage the data coming in daily as well as the motivations and actions of your sales organization.
This means you need someone adept at managing systems as well as people. Aligning people to specific goals for a specific time and then ensuring the activities done daily support the pipeline are critical to make your selling work.
Furthermore, recruiting talented people to play within your system is a management skill that ensures continuity when people turnover occurs or salespeople don’t work out.
Momentum Requires Engagement
The thing about building a sales engine is that it is hard and specific work. Putting the pieces in place to make the engine run is certainly not trivial.
But the ongoing momentum you need is like a flywheel. You can put energy and focus into your system to make it go. When you stop being vigilant or take shortcuts, that sales engine can slow down dramatically.
The work never stops because customers are not machines. What they care about and how they want to be treated tends to move. The continual tuning and leading you need to do largely determines the success of your sales engine’s output.
How is your engine running? How can you make it go faster?