In any organization, procedures and policies introduced by individual business functions with the best intentions can sometimes end up hampering efficiency gains and hamstringing growth. We investigate five common mistakes associated with the sales process that could be proving counterproductive to your overall business functioning – and how to rectify them.
Overstock strategy at a dead end?
Many operators across the wholesale distribution space face the thorny issue of how to tackle deadstock (effectively products that aren’t selling and are unlikely to sell easily in the future), with businesses adopting different procedures depending on their individual circumstances. The issue can become particularly problematic for companies who don’t have an inventory management system or controls in place, leading to increased holding costs, lost opportunities and greater pressure on staffing. Thankfully, the issue can be proactively tackled by a variety of means, such as creating product bundles, offering free ‘gifts’ with other purchases, returning products to suppliers, donations and partnerships. At a wider operational level, giving serious consideration to a workable inventory management system is important for any business, especially given how many smaller companies still either don’t track inventory or continue to use an inefficient manual recording method.
Valuing your proposition
Some of the biggest oversights in the sales process can often be the simplest. At a fundamental level, when salespeople struggle to articulate the value in their products, it stands to reason that a customer won’t be easily engaged or swayed to buy. Having a clearly articulated value proposition is key at any time but especially so in a downturn when there can be downward pressure on price and every sale counts. Being transparent and confident in the value of your offerings and what distinguishes them from the competition is a must. This means your sales operatives being completely comfortable with articulating simple, coherent and business climate appropriate messaging about your products and services to differentiate them from the competition.
Drowning in data?
While interest in data driven selling has increased markedly among wholesaler distributors of late and particularly since the pandemic, all too frequently many businesses still fail to adequately capture their customer data, let alone harness it to embrace more strategic selling. Sales enablement platforms such as sales-i take the hard work out of data collection, delivering sales professionals daily analytics regarding their key customer buying behaviours, enabling them to interpret trends, identify precious opportunities to cross and upsell to clients and ultimately, realize bigger bottom-line gains.These can be eye-catching, with a typical business using the sales-i platform likely to enjoy an increase in total sales volume of as much as 20%, alongside increases in average invoice value and the number of spending customers.
At a time when businesses are looking for any advantage to steal a march on the competition, can your sales team honestly say it has a deep understanding of all of its customer relationships, backed up and informed by historic and current metrics? If not, now could be the time for change.
Sales in a silo?
In some organizations, the sales team can sometimes be siloed, operating in isolation from other departments, even from natural bedfellow teams such as the marketing department. In reality of course, both sales and marketing departments share a number of common objectives and capabilities – such as the ability to generate leads and subsequently convert them into paying customers. Operating as misaligned departments or in isolation, especially when so many teams are working remotely, can create friction, preventing departments from working collaboratively towards shared goals, ultimately impacting sales revenues and customer retention.
Off-target customer profiling
In times of muted demand or when sales teams aren’t hitting targets, the possibility your business might be selling to the wrong people can sometimes be overlooked. Having a deep understanding of your target audience is important in any climate but especially so when the wider economic climate is uncertain and evolving customer needs can be difficult to track. Ensuring your sales teams are focussing their efforts in the right areas requires an understanding of your target demographics – essentially the prospects that fit your criteria. For businesses who feel their customer profiling may require updating or could be missing the mark, creating profiles and personas can help companies identify and address the best prospects and crucially, help them devise fresh sales strategies to transform them into paying customers.
Continuous improvement - an ongoing process
Of course, reviewing the overall effectiveness of your sales operation to identify areas that merit improvement shouldn’t be a one-time only endeavor. It should be a regular process that can deliver ongoing refinements with buy-in and feedback from the wider sales team and boardroom. Some processes can be adapted quickly to deliver results whereas others may be more ingrained and take time to fully address. Either way, by keeping a watchful eye on their individual operational processes and procedures and how they impact on the wider organization, businesses can be better prepared to face the uncertain challenges of the new economy ahead.