Have you ever stared into your refrigerator, increasingly desperate to find food or drink that you know is there? Has your significant other ever strolled by and said, “Oh, it’s right there, right in front”?

Well, it can be the same way in business. Your business isn’t a refrigerator, and we’re clearly not your significant other. But we might see things about business development that you can’t—even though they’re right there, right in front.

US manufacturing-related construction spending reached its highest level ever last year, the Wall Street Journal reported on April 8. And there are real lessons here for salespeople, marketers, and other business developers.

Three years ago this month, for example, we ran a column suggesting that manufacturing should never have left the US in the first place. The reason, we contended, was that even though there were clear advantages to offshoring such as reduced labor costs, significant disadvantages were also clear, right there, right in front. An all-too-real example was potential supply-chain disruptions. More to our point, the sales effort for leaving was more effective than the sales effort for staying. In other words, the “don’t go” side sales process failed. (See Offshoring and the Failure of Selling.)

The key failure was that the “please, stay” sales process was more educational than persuasive. And the unfortunate truth is that educating, not persuading, is how 80 percent of the salespeople who come to us for help currently sell—or, try to. Keeping in mind that every manufacturer’s situation is different, the facts about offshoring were clear but the implications of those facts were not. It’s the salesperson’s job to guide any prospect to discover those implications—bad and good. Our popular FOCIS© Consultative Sales Training course teaches just how to provide that guidance and get the sale that you—and your product or service—deserve.

Here are some other “right there, right in front” recommendations that we can help you implement.

Get the Right People in the Right Seats

In Plain Sight: Your “customer-facing” employees.
Opportunity: Matching talents to jobs in a new way.

Getting the right people in the right seats is basic. But is it always done well? Not by a long shot, in part because determining “fit” is hard. Maybe some of your inside salespeople might make better customer service reps, for instance, and vice versa. And it’s best to know that before new ones are hired. One pushing-the-envelope way is to understand more specifically why your top performers are so good and intentionally match that “business-performance DNA” in new hires. This approach goes a long way to determining fit before hiring. We work with a firm that is a leader in that kind of assessment, which can also reduce turnover across all functions. Just ask.

Introducing a New Product? Develop a Custom Sales Process

In Plain Sight: Your salesforce.
Opportunity: Significant gains from a customized sales process.

Ever wonder why a great new product doesn’t hit its projected sales targets or, worse, why the rest of your sales slump at the same time? It’s a surprisingly common issue. We’re called in frequently by prospects and clients who have created or developed new products and services and are surprised by how difficult it is to sell them. But there is a good reason. The sales team has become more transactional and less consultative. Question is, How do you fix the problem? We have helped firms of all sizes get past this roadblock to growth by teaching a sales process customized to industry, company, and products and services.

Train Your Sales Managers

In Plain Sight: Talented salespeople promoted to sales managers.
Opportunity: Leveraging that talent in new roles.

Does this idea sound like a revelation? If it does, you’re not alone, but you ought to be. A common practice is to promote top sales reps to sales managers. Not so common is training them to be sales managers instead of salespeople. But the payoff from training can be big. Managing isn’t selling, and motivating yourself is not the same as motivating others. Star athletes don’t necessarily become star coaches. Top producers don’t always know why they’re on top; they just “do it.” We offer a course for sales managers who are graduates of our FOCIS® Consultative Selling program. It leverages the customized sales processes we help their sales teams develop. We can also put you in touch with a firm that covers sales management training more broadly.

Align Marketing, Sales, and Operations

In Plain Sight: Marketing, sales, operations.
Opportunity: The payoff of true alignment.

Isn’t it obvious that these three business development musketeers need to be on the same page? Apparently, not. We see many examples in which they aren’t even in the same book. Just one example: Marketing drops a promotion that sales doesn’t have the details on or, worse, doesn’t even know about. Sales can’t answer customer questions. And, quite possibly, operations isn’t prepared for an onslaught of orders. Such misadventures are surprisingly common. The good news is that we have a practice area focusing on resolving just these kinds of issues, including a half-day program and ongoing services.

To learn more about how to identify—and leverage—resources to build the topline, please get in touch with us at 847-446-0008 or pkrone@productivestrategies.com. Talking with us costs nothing. Unlike many complimentary offers, we’re sure it’s worth a lot more than you pay for it—in fact, you might say it’s another marketing and sales opportunity hidden in plain sight.


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