Every Cloud

For the last 15 years, in fair economic conditions, enterprises have generally been able to move forward, achieving adequate revenues, and using new technologies and processes to cut costs. It couldn’t go on indefinitely, of course. Toning up to get rid of fat is one thing, but cutting into muscle is quite another. The time was inevitably approaching when an equally strong effort would be required to improve revenue generation.

Then it happened. In the summer of 2007 the term sub-prime entered the world’s vocabulary, prefiguring the present economic downturn. The now-prevailing conditions, including high oil prices, mean that there can be no more prevarication. In the harsher climate of the next two or three years, survival will go to those who are able to generate revenue. That means selling successfully.

How does that reality feel for you and your organization?

Try this game. Put ten £10 (or €10, or whatever) notes on the desk in front of you – that’s a total of 100 units of currency. Now answer the 10 questions in the list below. Every time you have to answer “No” to one of the questions, put one of the banknotes in an envelope.

Yes No

1. Are you certain that the competency and quality of your sales and client-facing people is all that it should be?

2. Are you confident that the processes within your Sales and Marketing functions fully support the making of sales?

3. Is your sales opportunity conversion rate acceptable or good: say, better than one in three?

4. Are you able to close sales as quickly as was possible a year ago?

5. Is your cost of sales acceptable to your boss?

6. Are you confident that your sales recognition and reward systems are organised to best motivate and recognise sales efforts?

7. Do you fully understand the Value Proposition your organisation is able to deliver?

8. Do your sales tools and materials acknowledge and reflect the needs of your prospects, rather than cataloguing the features of your service?

9. Does your organisation have a professional sales effort, rather than a few rainmakers?

10. Are Sales, Marketing and other enabling functions in your organisation working fully in sync?

Think of the units of currency left in front of you at the end as your company’s Sales function percentage score. If it is less than 80%, things need to improve if you are to maintain competiveness and profitability.

What about the banknotes now in the envelope? Well, you might just as well write your main competitor’s address on the front and mail it to them. Oh, and by the way, the amount you’ve just given them is not some part of one hundred. In the real world it could be part of a hundred thousand, a million, or maybe more.

If the environment is so hard, why head this section “Every cloud …”?

Because, in these tougher times, there is the potential for a greater payback from effort put

into Sales and selling than when things are easier. Get it right, now, and your organization

can take the high ground in opportunity-rich but hotly contested marketplaces.

The next few blogs look briefly at some of the ways to do just that.

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