I have worked with a few companies that have hired me to create a turnaround plans. One company at one point was bringing in over two million in sales. The company’s sales fell to just over a million. In a different company. Same thing, sales fell 50%. These companies were in different parts of the state, so what could they have in common?
I started off just observing. I often find you can see the real issues just by sitting back and observing each role within a company. Although observation is sometimes very difficult to accomplish, it is often where you find what is truly going on. You do have to balance what you write down, your facial expressions, etc. while you observe. You need to see what is really going on and if team members see you writing or making faces they will often try and hide the truth.
In addition to observations, I collected all of the data available on each position within each location. How many leads were being generated, how many appointments, how many closures, how many phone dials, how many incoming calls, etc.? Then I collect data on the other positions in the company as well. Were other positions being productive? Had their statistics fallen as well?
My findings…. In both companies…the sales people were given interruptions by senior management, which meant they weren’t doing sales. And, if your sales people aren’t doing sales then no body in your organization probably is. I know… GASP… but it was true. Early on in my career one of my mentors told me to make sure I always “let sales people do sales.”
So, what does that really mean? Sales people, especially those in non-commission roles, will always look for something to do other than make phone calls, follow up, have appointments, etc. especially when times are rough. You’re probably wondering why? Sales is their job. Why would they do something different? The answer…. It’s human behavior. Sales is hard work. Getting told no is hard work. If you give your sales people an excuse to not do sales then they will not do sales. I found one sales person spending an enormous amount of time doing “research.” Research is a code word for “I don’t want to do sales.” Another sales person was interviewing for other positions within their location. A different sales person was promoted to manage their location and was now managing, which means no one was doing sales. A different sales person was helping get caught up on bookkeeping.
As a leader, it is our job to eliminate all obstacles for our sales people. Don’t give them tasks outside of sales and then wonder why sales have fallen. If you find yourself in a situation where your sales are falling, step back and observe. What are your sales people really doing? You will be shocked, most of the time, your company’s issue is because sales people aren’t really doing sales.