In today's competitive marketplace, a company's future depends more upon its sales and marketing ability than on any other facet of it's business.
Without sales, nothing happens. Even the knowledge of what products and services to provide, stems from the partnership between a company's sales force and it's clients. W. Edwards Deming says that a company must "focus on the consumer, not the product, as the most important part of the production line."
Deming established the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement. TQM shifted the focus in manufacturing from profits to quality and from the individual to the team. TQM is working well and costs are down, profits are up, consumers are more satisfied, teamwork is replacing old win/lose ways, and new methods are ensuring that the consumer receives quality service as well as a quality product.
TQM works because it uses a logical, step-by-step process to improve production and can be applied to any product, from potato chips to computer chips. Now, just about every organization has a production process, as well as an accounting process, a distribution process, and an administration process. But what about sales? Sales tend to be left to chance.
Typically, salespeople are given some product knowledge and motivational hype, then sent out to sink or swim. Is it any wonder that salespeople feel pressure, panic, and don't close sales? Without training, a process, or assistance, how can salespeople increase sales and improve profitability? Most cannot.
Think of your salespeople. How would you rate them on a level of one to ten, ten being the highest level of knowledge, skills and attitude? Are your salespeople threes, fives or tens?
A salesperson must be a highly trained competent professional to survive in today's marketplace. Yet research shows that the majority of salespeople do not know how to sell - the money their companies invest in them is wasted. If your salespeople ranked as fives last year and are still fives today, what is going to change this year that will turn them into sevens, eights, nines or tens?
Now let's take a look at your customers. Are your salespeople calling on upper level decision-makers that control the company's dollars? Then your salespeople are dealing with clients who are above average in attitude, education, and skills. How would you rate these clients? Fives? Or are they closer to tens? What do you think happens when a salesperson that is a five calls on a prospect that is a ten? That's right. No sale.
Now let's look at your competition. What will happen if your competitors train, educate and motivate their salespeople to be tens? Guess who will be gaining and who will be losing market share. A more knowledgeable, better-trained sales force will outsell the competition.
Companies say, "Our greatest asset is our people." That's static and one sided. Any company's greatest asset is the undeveloped potential of its people.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.