Perfecting Your Sales Process
Sales Isn’t Everything. It’s the Only Thing.
During his interview, Michael McFall, co-CEO of Biggby Coffee, makes a simple, often heard, but overlooked idea: In business, sales is everything. Period.
It’s an uncomplicated idea that makes perfect sense. Without sales, you don’t make any money and your business fails. Everything about business stems from this plain truth.
And still, business owners, especially entrepreneurs just starting out, neglect this fact. Instead of focusing on closing deals, they occupy their time with secondary considerations. It’s understandable why this happens:
- You may be a one-person shop, and everything that goes into running your business falls on your shoulders—marketing, operations, finance, etc.
- You may, consciously or not, avoid rejection by avoiding the activities that generate sales—activities like cold calling and following up.
- You may get caught up in all the advice you hear about how to market yourself and how to provide value, forgetting that those are means to an end and not an end in themselves.
- You may not know how to close deals. There’s no substitute for learning your profession, and make no mistake, if you’re an entrepreneur your job is sales. Take it upon yourself to learn the sales process, including sales lead generation, lead follow up process, and sales lead conversion.
ReminderMedia has tons of free resources to help with these topics and more. You can find our entire library of free resources, including additional podcasts, training webinars, e-books, scripts, and more by clicking here.
This week, Luke and Josh bond with Michael over their mutual commitment to the belief that sales isn’t everything . . . it’s the only thing.
Your sales team is the brains of your operation
According to Michael, the smartest people in your organization are your salespeople.
Not the owners.
Not the C-level executives.
Not IT or finance.
You could make the case that it’s the administrative assistants who are the smartest.
But salespeople win out because while admins know everything about what goes on inside of the building, salespeople know everything about what’s going on outside the building.
And what’s outside?
Professional salespeople understand your business’s clients. They know why people buy what you’re selling, and, perhaps more important, why they don’t. And because of this knowledge, Michael argues that salespeople should be driving product development.
Even while your salespeople are your smartest people, and hiring good salespeople is your smartest decision, there exists an exaggerated and largely inaccurate image of what a salesperson is, what they do, and how they do it.
As for the image, you know it well. Just think slick car salesman.
For us, the salesperson’s primary job responsibilities, and how they perform them, are more important.
Sales is a process you perfect
There’s no denying you needed talented salespeople, by which we typically mean the attributes that influence how they perform their jobs.
A salesperson needs to be good with people. They need to exude confidence. They need to be exceptionally good listeners. They need to know how to communicate verbally and nonverbally. And it helps if they have the drive and a certain degree of competitiveness built in.
All these attributes contribute to how a salesperson performs their job. And they tend to be the ones that preoccupy the general imagination and contribute to our notions of the person who was “born to sell.”
But a good salesperson is much more than a nice smile. They need a set of teachable skills that will allow them to execute a process. Arguably, a salesperson is only as good as the process they’re given.
For Michael, the key to a successful, scalable business is perfecting a repeatable sales “mechanism” or sales process. Once you have it, he says, “you spend your whole life feeding it with leads.”
We won’t go into the details of the most effective sales process since that will depend on your product, goals, and a host of other factors. Nor will we discuss what the ideal sales training process might look like, which is also influenced by several factors. Instead, we’ll follow Michael’s lead and talk about the role of the manager in whether a salesperson achieves success.
People want to succeed
A large part of a manager’s role is to coach their people to succeed. Simply put, a sales manager should create an environment in which people can not only do their jobs but also reach their potential. Managers need to:
- Set expectations for the team. This may mean specifying a minimum number of calls per day, completing required forms, or making entries into a software system. Setting expectations should be a central part of onboarding new sales reps.
- Enable the team to meet expectations. You should provide the necessary resources, whether that’s training, technology, time, or encouragement.
- Help solve problems. You can’t be shy about addressing poor performance, but be sure to identify ways employees can improve, whether that’s a performance improvement plan or more direct one-on-one attention. You also need to be willing to tackle issues too big for your salespeople to handle on their own.
With this foundation in mind, Michael declares that if you’re a manager complaining about the poor performance of your people, then you’re a bad manager. In some way, you’ve failed to fulfill your role.
It’s a sweeping claim, and not everyone is going to buy into it. But if we’re honest with ourselves and accept the premise that people genuinely want to do well in their jobs then, to some degree, there is truth in what he says.
You can help your people succeed and fulfill your role by being clear about what your team needs to do and how they should do it.
Understanding and communicating what your people should do and how they should do it is the idea behind this week’s action item. So, listen to the episode, follow Michael’s advice, complete the action item, and watch your team’s performance improve.
- Focus on doing one thing right. When you’ve got it, double down. And before you start changing it, recognize that the more you add on, the more you complicate your entire enterprise.
- You need to repeat your message many, many times over before it will stick. Be patient, stay the course, and eventually your message will begin to resonate.
- A lack of self-awareness is one of the biggest obstacles to leadership. Leaders need to learn to be quiet so that authentic conversations can begin.
- Sales should be treated as a mechanism. Perfect the process, and the rest of your time will be devoted to simply feeding leads into the process.
Begin documenting your processes. Start with one process.
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Book: Grind: A No-bullsh*t Approach to Take Your Business from Concept to Cash Flow by Michael J. McFall