Why can’t my Sales Team deliver more deals and better Market Share?

When you speak to most “Dealer Principals” and ask them, “what area of your business has the most room for improvement?”, it’s usually the Sales Department.  After many years of leading equipment dealer organizations, the root causes of these frustrations and average or poor results are almost always the same.

A little while ago I had this exact conversation with the Dealer Principal of a fairly large multi-store operation.  They were preforming at a low single digit market share and the sales team had not generated a profit in several years.  My first recommendation to them, was to get a very clear understanding of the current Strategy, Sales Leadership, Sales Team and Sales Operations.  If we were going to grow this team and get results, we needed to know where we were starting from.  Here is how it unfolded and some of the insights and results from the process we used:

Step 1:  Critical Assessment.  Our first step was to interview the Dealer Principals, Sales Leadership Team, a few Top Sales Performers, a few Lower Performers, the Sales Operations Team, Service Manager and the Parts Manager.  To allow for rich conversations we provided each interviewee with a list of twenty-two focused questions that covered all areas of the business.  This approach allowed each person to give each question considerable thought prior to the interviews.

Step 2:  The Critical Assessment Report.  The insight provide by the interviews were prepared in a report and presented to the entire Dealership Senior Team.  The findings were eye opening and, in some cases, shocking to the team but they laid the foundation for a new strategy to get the team unstuck.  Here are some of the findings:

  • ▸ There was no documented sales strategy that was leading the team, nor was anyone communicating a direction to the sales team
  • ▸ The lack of clear strategy put doubts around what was being measured, what is not and what should be
  • ▸ Sales Team and Sales Management compensation was not aligned to a designed strategy and may not be designed properly or driving the right behaviors and results
  • ▸ Recruiting and hiring of sales team members is mostly done on a gut check relational assessment.  No process was in place to hire the best resulting in high turnover
  • ▸ There is no well thought out training and onboarding program which greatly hinders sales team retention, development and success
  • ▸ The lack of experience and professional training within the sales management group was a constraint to moving the organization to a higher level of performance.
  • ▸ The current manual system for managing inventory and processing sales is very time consuming and creates a bottle next and major constraint to future growth
  • ▸ There is a leadership and relationship disconnect between sales and aftermarket that is hindering growth and hurting the reputation we put forward

These are just a few of the critical gaps identified in the interview assessment process.

Step 3:  A New Day, A New Strategy.  Once we had reviewed the findings with the team our next step was to take the entire team through a two day “Sales Strategy Session”.  Within these two days we brainstormed the “Sales Organization of Tomorrow”.  We had very robust discussions on who we wanted to be and what success would look like when we arrived.

Step 4:  Identify and Bridge the Gaps.  Our next exercise with the team was to revisit the current state of the team and the sales operations.  In this process we identified with honest critical assessment and discussions what we need to keep doing, what we will need to change, and what new things we will need to start doing to build this sales organization of tomorrow.

Step 5:  The Strategy, The Execution.  From all this work we were able to build and document a new Strategy, identify the Strategic Pillars and Strategic Action Items that if executed well, would build a high performing and engaged sales organization that would double market share and finally produce a profit.

Step 6: The Accountability and The Results.  Once “The Sales Leadership Team and Dealer Principals” fully bought in and committed to the Strategy, the processes where put in place to ensure accountability and results.  While there were lots of growing pains, backwards steps, some changes on the team and lots of wins, the results did come.  Two years out and market share has tripled and for the first time in many years the sales operations have contributed a decent profit.

In all areas of business, it is critically important that the teams know where they are trying to go.  They need to know how they will get there and what resources and support the leadership will give them to get there.  That’s the power of a “Clear Strategy” and yes even “The Sales Department” needs one, if their journey is to be a successful.

If you’d like to discuss how we can assist you and your business, get in touch with John Higgins, the author of this article, at jhiggins@scpg.ca

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