Whether you have a dedicated field sales team (even a team of one!) or you are responsible for doing your own selling, it is an expensive business. Figures vary but £50-£60 per sales call is probably on the low side. Work it out if you wish, but salary + car + expenses soon mount up. They may be expensive but the sales team plays a vital role in your business development so it makes sense to make the most of them. I have believed for a long time that there are two elements to selling:
- Selling the Products/Services.
- Looking for people to sell to.
These two require quite different skills and typically someone who is good at one will not be so good at the other. Sales people are primarily selected for their ability to sell, but they are often expected to look for people to sell to as well – a job which they tend not to relish.
The 70:30 dilemma
A common result of this is the 70:30 dilemma: The Sales Director wants his/her sales staff to spend 70% of time targeting New Business and 30% with existing customers. The Sales Team spend 70% of their time with existing customers and only 30% targeting New Business. The numbers may vary but the principle is the same. Sales staff are at their best when they are selling, so supplying them with properly qualified leads gives them more time (and inclination!) to sell to interested people. To fully qualify a prospective customer, we need to know 2 things:
- Are we interested in the prospect as a potential customer. (i.e. Do they spend enough on the right sort of things?)
- Are they interested in us as a potential supplier? (i.e. Have we given them a reason to consider us?)
Point 1 without point 2 can mean we need to build our relationship with the prospect to a greater degree. Point 2 without point 1 raises the question: Even if they are interested in us, are we wasting our time as there might not be much in it for us?
The key is to allow the sales team to focus on qualified opportunities and support them by distinguishing the job of qualifying those opportunities in the first place By having a clear process to identify and qualify opportunities, it can be easier to continue to track progress of opportunities after field sales get involved. People involved in sales tend to focus on the shorter term. If you aren’t careful, there is a risk your business can lose touch with a prospect when it is passed to the field sales team. If there is no short term sales potential, or initial potential doesn’t develop, most sales people are likely to shift their focus to the next opportunity. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there need to be processes in the business to maintain and develop contact with these longer term opportunities. Although I have suggested that a sales person is not typically the best person to look for people to sell to, they can have very useful input. Being out in the marketplace, they will see opportunities during the course of their work. To be able to pass these into a structured business development system that they have confidence in can be a great motivator.
The joined-up process
To get the best of both worlds, you should aim for a joined-up process where a marketing team builds your knowledge of your target market contacts and develops awareness and understanding of your company, products and services across the market. This process of growing appreciation of your ‘brand’ creates a great platform from which your sales team can operate. As your market gets to know you better, when they have a need for your products/services they are ever more likely to contact you generating well qualified leads for the sales team. Equally, when the sales team find new prospects, if they aren’t ready to do business straight away, details can be fed back to the marketing team to ‘Keep in touch’ ready for when the need IS there.
Not just for big companies
Talking about Sales Teams and Marketing Teams may lead you to thinking this is all for bigger companies but actually, it is just as relevant if you are a sole trader doing everything. By recognising the different processes for Selling and Looking for people to sell to you can focus your attention more appropriately – even if you actually do everything yourself!
We can help you…
If you would like to discuss how a more joined-up process can benefit your sales and marketing, do get in touch. We are always happy to chat