Follow the Leaders
Virtually every business owner wants to grow their business. It’s rare to find an entrepreneur who says, “No, we are good. We’d like to stay right where we are.”
Growth allows for expansion, more profits, increased value, and a sense of well-being. It’s hard not to tie the slope of revenue growth to our self-image. For most businesses, there is no pressing problem that more sales won’t take cure. Sure, sometimes it strains other parts of the company but given a choice, most of us would choose to have more customers, bigger deals, and better retention.
Often, a good business idea coupled with the grit and hustle of the founder(s), can result in a business that will grow, and grow rapidly. But then something happens – they get stuck. The growth that we could once count on begins to slow down. And then stop.
It’s a common dilemma.
“Let’s hire a salesperson. Or two! They’ll turn up leads, they can sell while we can focus on other things.” Sadly, it rarely happens the way it’s planned. Salespeople are hired, we spend some time with them and send them out to the market. They can’t consistently sell. It’s perplexing. “I sold more than they do and I’m not even a salesperson. I hate sales!”
It’s perplexing. It’s frustrating. And it happens over and over.
When an entrepreneur starts a company, they have no choice but hustle, scratch, and claw to find customers. They have a passion for what they do. Through muscle and personality, they can grow the business to a certain level. Then it stops. They don’t have time to do what they used to do. They are overwhelmed in the day-to-day demands. They get comfortable. Their selling efforts are unsustainable.
At some point, they realize that their success is not duplicatable. They can’t clone their passion. They can’t clone their grit and personality. They have no “way” of doing sales. They just sell. They don’t really know how they did it. They just did it.
For the salesperson, it’s job. They want to do well but it’s not life-or-death. Another sales job is just a few interviews away. And that’s the dilemma.
To scale a business, companies need to have a processes and methodologies that are learnable, teachable, and duplicatable. Leaders need to be able to onboard new salespeople to an established way of selling.
I love what sales expert Jack Daly says in his book, Hyper Sales Growth. He says, “The best salespeople are canned. They never wing it.” He writes that every company should have a success guide that is based on what the best people do so that others can emulate it. (You can join us for a day with Jack Daly on September 21!)
In most selling scenarios, there are but a handful of objections and tough questions and they come up over-and-over again. When salespeople haven’t been trained on what to say, they wing it. Maybe it’s effective. More often, it’s not.
David Sandler likened sales to a Broadway play. In sales, you must know your lines. When the prospect says, “Your price is too high,” what does your salesperson say? When asked for a proposal, how do they manage what happens after the proposal is received? This should be uniform. There is a best answer. But left to chance, it’s rarely the one given. There is no winging in acting, or in sales.
Relationships are important. But when salespeople build their skills on relationships, they are ineffective and inefficient. Both are required. Good at understanding the dynamics of people, while their selling process is running quietly in the background.
In sales, you don’t rise to the occasion. You fall to your level of training. The best leaders approach sales like any other part of their business. They don’t wing it with accounting department. They don’t “hope for the best” in the service department. They learn by reading, attending workshops with experts. They develop plans and ensure their teams are executing. They practice over and over until they get it right.
Finally, understanding sales is a non-negotiable facet of running a business. Entrepreneurial passion and grit can drive early-stage growth, but the law of diminishing returns applies when scaling becomes the focus. In that critical phase, equipping your sales team with a well-documented, practiced, and proven sales process is vital. This transforms sales from an art of personality to a science of repeatable results.
Ultimately, success in sales, like any other business aspect, lies in a disciplined approach, continual learning, and steadfast execution. Start investing in your sales processes today – it’s the lifeline of your enterprise. Your business’s growth, value, and overall well-being hinge on it.
Robin Green is President at Ascend Performance powered by Sandler Training, and a sponsor of the VA Council of CEOs.