June 18, 2009

Scaling for sales growth – tough or what?

In a conversation earlier in the week with an industry sales veteran we got onto the topic of scaling sales. A topic we could have chatted about enjoyably all day quite easily. When we had concluded our conversation we noted that there are many aspects to scaling sales that we will all have come across in one form or another over the years: 

  1. Hiring sales people
  2. Entering new markets
  3. Developing partnerships, channels and alternative routes to market
  4. Strengthening account management skills
  5. Improving the sales process considering minor adaptations of sales behaviour & how it will affect buyer behaviour
  6. Proactive sales planning and sales system adoption
  7. Aligning sales and marketing
  8. Ensuring executives know their role in the sales cycles
  9. Building sales teams to sell to key accounts
  10. Knowing when to walk away 

These ten points count no doubt but they make the scaling topic very complex, seeing the wood from the trees can be tough. There are lots of lines of dependency to be aware of both internally and externally. Ultimately to scale sales your organisations and senior management team need to be sales led.  This is the only way to achieve 25%, 30%, 50% growth rates. 

“As a sales manager said to me recently, scaling sales is complex, I need help to simplify the approach to ensure we are sales led and consistent with our mission. Our sales cycles our complex, we need to sell value while at the same time ensuring we keep things simple for the buyers. If we don’t keep things simple for buyers and for our sales team we will swim in a sea of mediocrity”.

This conversation got me thinking of the engine of a five cylinder car, each cylinder aligns with each other so the car can gets you from a to b. If we assume A is where we are and B is where we want to get to – be that 25% sales growth year on year or 50% growth - then we need to make sales the engine of our business – that brings us back to being sales led again. The sales engine will have a number of cylinders: called leads, meetings, sales cycles, sales order and repeat orders or alternatively suspects, prospects, opportunities, customers and repeat customers, it doesn’t really matter what the cylinders are called, what matters is the activity in each cylinder and how effective the activity is. If the focus is activity first which gets you so far, effectiveness of activity is the key to scaling sales or am I missing something?


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