Sales = Revenue = Options Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2009

Many business owners are dissatisfied with the production of their sales staffs, but they let the problem go unresolved because they don’t see a solution. Samuel J. Lucci III, founder and CEO of Partners Through People, says poor performance from your sales staff should not be ignored.

“If you don’t have any sales, then you don’t have any revenue, and if you don’t have any revenue, you go out of business,” Lucci says. “That’s why ‘sales = revenue = options.’”

The more revenue you bring in, the more options you have, adds Lucci. If you’re just breaking even, then you can’t expand or take advantage of opportunities. If someone presents you with a nice opportunity and you don’t have the revenue, then you are frozen out of the market.

Smart Business spoke to Lucci about how to improve your organization’s sales and what efforts might just be wasting your resources.

What can business owners do to ensure their sales team is bringing in revenue?

Most sales teams are somewhat ineffective to very ineffective. Most business owners tolerate that. They tolerate substandard sales staffs because that has become the norm; it’s become accepted. What’s so troublesome is if you talk to business owners about their sales staff, they’ll say they’re not getting as many sales as they want, but they will tend to accept it. They let their sales staff hold them hostage because they don’t know what to do about it.

Eighty percent of sales are sold by 20 percent of the salespeople. That’s the tragedy: It’s become acceptable to let a sales staff be broken and not fix it. If your network went down and your computers didn’t work, you’d fix them immediately. So why would you let your sales staff be broken and just accept it instead of fixing it and making it function to bring in the revenue you want?

How can you fix a sales staff?

The first thing to understand is you don’t have success in sales by just hiring salespeople. The fallacy is you’re going to find a good salesperson, someone who is going to solve your problem. Most business owners don’t realize that if you want consistent sales that will give you options, you have to build a sales organization, not train salespeople. Traditional hiring, developing or training doesn’t work.

You have to build a sales organization that begins with a thorough look at your entire operation. Look at everything — how you acquire leads, manage your pipeline, look at potential opportunities and how they move through the sales process, your compensation package and your fulfillment. Do your clients like what you do? Maybe your company and performance is not up to par and you expect your salesperson to go out and sell substandard goods and services. Every facet of the business has to be in order if you want to have a performing sales organization.

Also, you have to create a sales organization in a positive atmosphere, not a negative one. You can’t intimidate people into doing their jobs. You might be able to do that in the short-run, but in the long-run it is self-destructive. There are a lot of sales managers who make their salespeople do it their way, or else. That’s not the way to do it. The way to do it is to get willing cooperation and harmony among the staff. When you get harmony among a sales staff, they tend to support each other instead of competing with each other. There’s nothing wrong with friendly competition, but you don’t want that backbiting competition you see on many staffs.

If traditional sales training doesn’t work, what else can be done to improve results?

In order to get different results from your salespeople, they have to change their behaviors. Most sales training is based on skills or processes. It teaches you how to say or do things differently, but it doesn’t really change your behavior. Behavior comes from attitude.

You have to know why people do what they do. The key is helping a person find the things that are impeding their attitude and are getting between them and what they’re trying to do and help them remove those blockages.

What’s stopping companies from taking these steps to build a strong sales organization?

The biggest issue is that they don’t want to make the investment to do it. So they put up with what they have instead of making the investment. As I’ve stated before, doubt paralyzes the mind. That’s why this problem is allowed to go on.

If you use your head, and invest $100,000 or $200,000 in developing a sales organization, it will bring you back millions during the years ahead. It pays for itself 10 to 30 times over, but you have to make the investment in time and money. That’s what most business owners are not willing to do. That’s why they allow themselves to be held hostage. If you have a productive sales organization, then revenue can become much more predictable. You still have economic cycles to contend with, but they do not crush you like they would a weak company without a functioning sales organization.

Why would indecision at this time cause your company to fail?

Every factor points to the fact that our economy is going through a gigantic realignment. The past 25-plus years were fueled by a series of political/economic decisions that gave consumers tremendous purchasing power — all at the expense of over-leveraging. The good times are not coming back. The best insurance for your company’s survival and prosperity is a top performing sales organization.

Samuel J. Lucci III is the CEO and founder of Partners Through People. Reach him at sjl3@partnersthroughpeople.com or (724) 457-2500.