15/12/2011 | Sales management
Although groups of sales people are often described as being in a team, my experience over the past 20 years is that sales is rarely a team game if you want to win at it.
We see it regularly: Shared targets, group targets, complicated commission schemes that provide myriad ways of rewarding people in some way despite the fact that the top line numbers have been missed. And then the management of the company are perplexed as to why they never seem to deliver their new business revenues and continue to derive all their margin from the same handful of ‘traditional’ accounts.
Successful companies usually need successful sales people and they are people who are comfortable with individual accountability and are willing to stand or fall by their own efforts. They don’t have to be overly selfish but they do have to have the desire to win, to be willing to do what it takes and expect to be rewarded accordingly when they do so.
If a company has a desire to grow organically, and pretty much all of the private equity-backed businesses we work with have that hard-wired into the business plan, then it will almost certainly need to win some new customers, regardless of how well it services its current accounts. Winning new business requires some focused and aggressive ‘hunting’ and is best carried out by dedicated, driven personnel who are managed accordingly and everyone can see their success or failure writ large in the order book.
Its a great position to find yourself in - knowing that without your efforts then the business would not have won those customers and been able to support the rest of the operation with additional revenue/margin opportunity. However, its not for the faint-hearted and its rarely done successfully by people the management think can ‘fit in a bit of new business’ amongst their account management duties.
If you want to genuinely win some new customers then you have to set out the success criteria early, identify the right resource to meet them and create the environment within which it can thrive - and don’t settle for anything that feels like a compromise.
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