Sales Turnaround. Taking your sales revenues from weak to strong. I’ve heard lots of excuses as to why businesses fail. From the economy, stupid, to lack of R and D, shortages of people or funding, a businesses location, no advertising budget, to match competition, too little competition on so on it goes.

But fundamentally, the problem is always sales. You simply didn’t sell enough (for whatever reason) and I find this a refreshing way to approach the problem of a struggling business.

Assume all things are equal, then the likelihood is that it’s the sales effort that is at fault for the cash flow problem, or the lack of available funds for marketing or training, or the reason no one progresses in the company. Put simply, if you sell more stuff, you’ll have more money to run the business.

Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but there are lots of people out there who don’t realise what goes into a successful strategy, and therefore don’t even realise the problem they have is a sales problem.

I don’t care how good your product is, I promise you I can show you how to sell more of it.

More importantly, I don’t care how bad your product is, I promise you I can show you how to sell more of that too!

There is usually a lot of work, including discovery, planning and control work that goes into a sales turnaround, but let’s have a look at some of the common issues you’ll need to address.

What are you selling? 

If it takes longer that a few seconds to explain what you sell, or what your point of difference is, then you’ve got a problem. You need to simplify the message to the point where it can be delivered in a headline, or famously, in an elevator speech.

Too complex an offering leads to you having to explain things to your client, and worse, having to educate the client as to the benefits. This is great, if you have a strong process to do so, but it often leads to long gestation times, too much marketing collateral, too many calls, and basically not enough sales.

Keep it simple stupid.

What problem does it fix?

Sales is a value exchange. I have a thing that can help you. If you give me money, or some other value piece, I will give that help in exchange. If you don’t know how you are going to help, or you can’t explain it in simple terms, you’re in trouble.

People are motivated either by desire for gain, or fear of loss, and fear of loss usually wins out. If you can’t demonstrate what they will gain by buying your product or service, or even better, what they will lose if they don’t buy it, then you are relying on weaker rationales, and that’s where you’ll come unstuck.

What’s the plan?

What do you have to do in order to get your value proposition to market, and convince people to buy it? Does it need media exposure? Personal selling? Telesales? Ad words or Facebook marketing?

Once you’ve reached the potential customer, what are you going to say? How do you take them through the process of awareness, interest, desire and action? How are you going to close the sale?

How much do you charge? And can you use pricing or discounting as a sales strategy? If you discount, what effect with that have on existing clients?

What about delivery? Are your sales people going to take time out of the sales process to manage delivery, or can it be handed off for better efficiency? Are there parts of the sales process that can be automated? Or maybe it all can be automated?

What technological advantages can you bring in to simplify things for the client or your business?

Sticking to the plan

It doesn’t matter how good the plan is if you can’t stick to it. This is the number one reason I see businesses fail. They can have great product, and a brilliant plan. But they can’t stick to it. And therefore they start to fail.

That invariably leads to a new, improved plan. And that may have a honeymoon period, but that too starts to lose effectiveness. But this is always because the well worked out plan is being ignored, or worse, being worked around.

And that means it’s time for a new plan! But it’s not is it?

The question is, how does the business stick to the plan. How do you get over whatever blocks, mental, physical, IT, economic, systems, processes or otherwise are stopping you from doing the things you need to do.

How do you get the discipline to stay on plan!

Tell more sell more…

There is a fundamental of sales that people often miss. Sales is a number game. The more people you see, the more you sell. The more people you talk to, broadcast at, reach through social media etc. The more you sell.

Increasing the activity levels of the business is the easiest way by far to increase sales. And other strategic ‘problems’ are simply hiding the fact you aren’t reaching enough of the right prospects enough times.

9 times of 10, fix this, and you’ll fix your sales problem.