Businesses failing to achieve their sales objectives is nothing new.
It’s important to note that I said objectives, as opposed to targets.
Hitting a revenue target is one thing, but for many businesses their sales ‘objectives’ go deeper than that.
How’s your conversion rate doing? Is your sales team selling the right mix of products or services? Are you penetrating specific markets deeply enough? Are you developing opportunities in new markets? Do you have senior level relationships with your clients? Are you maximising your profit margins?
The list is endless, but you get my point…
In the construction industry, 95% of the time, the burden of achieving these objectives falls squarely on the shoulders of the external sales team. Now, this might seem justifiably so, but for me it’s not that straightforward. The days of the ‘cradle-to-grave’ sales person is a thing of the past, it’s quite simply impossible for one person to manage to entire sales process from prospecting to delivery on their own, at least if you want the job done properly. If you want to achieve your revenue targets AND your less tangible sales objectives, your external sales team will need proper support!
For the purposes of this discussion, I believe you need to split the sales process in to two distinct parts; Pre-Engagement and Post-Engagement. Engagement being the point at which you have face to face dialogue with a relevant decision maker.
We’ve worked with thousands of sales people over the years and, without wanting to generalise, the majority of these people are most effective at the point of face to face engagement with the ‘customer’. In the main, they have neither the time, inclination, capability or desire to manage the ‘Pre-Engagement’ part of the process. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not putting field sales people down, quite the contrary. I’m saying that they have enough on their plates and they need more support from the business if you really want to maximise the value that this expensive resource can deliver for you.
The bottom line is that a lot of businesses undervalue the need to have a proper ‘Pre-Engagement’ sales process in place. This could come in the form of an internal sales or business development team, or you can outsource the process to a specialist. Regardless of HOW you achieve this focus on ‘Pre-Engagement’, I implore you to make it a priority.
Too many people underestimate the skill required to perform this role effectively, not to mention the systems, processes and resources you need to have in place to do the job properly. Likewise, the same people underestimate the huge difference this process can make in terms of helping the external sales team, and therefore the business, achieve its wider sales objectives.
Last thing. If you’re going to put a ‘new business development’ process in place, don’t play around with it, please do it properly. It’s no good getting an admin person or somebody from the office to put aside the off couple of hours a week to make some calls to an out of date database (yes, people really do think this will work). Commit to the process, do your research, speak to people that know how to do it – then execute it properly. I guarantee that, if done properly, this will be one of the best investments you will ever make in your sales organisation.
If you provide a product, service or solution to the construction, built environment or industrial markets, and you would like to discuss how an outsourced service could help you then please contact me on 07917 786991 or at firstname.lastname@example.org