We are closed to vacations period but someone is still working hard, trying to prepare a new sales department setup which must be operative in a short time, efficient, professional and, above all, effective!
I’m writing this article because I think that it’s very important to share my experience to whom is facing the same situation and, taking into consideration what is happening in many companies, I believe quite many people.
Today we are still facing tough times in dealing with sales. Even if there are few sign of gradual improvement, economic downturn is still present in many Countries. If you are a company specialised in sales channel creation or improvement, you must fight hard in order to catch opportunities for your customers. Then, of course, the situation varies depending on which customer you refer to.
The scenario I would like to describe is quite complicated (Yes, sure, easy things are too obvious). Let’s imagine a company trying to sell products ina very aggressive competition environment, being a newcomer and consequently without brand awareness. The products are good, innovative and characterised by a very competitive pricing. This company must address the market with a brand new sales structure because there isn’t actually. The problem?
Well, the board wants results with a really reduced investment. I mean, a new sales organization is really wanted but, due to many factors, this organization should be done using existing personnel, maybe taken from other divisions.
Now, two simple questions:
What is finally the correct approach? How could we satisfy this customer assuring results?
What I can say is the following.
I must admit that is quite hard find out the correct approach but yes, something to be done with a controlled budget while optimizing costs and enhance effectiveness can be found. Let’s start from the beginning, taking into account that your customer, lacking a sales department of course doesn’t have a sales strategy . If you must start from the beginning, the sales strategy will be based on simple assumptions: we must focus on market segments where competition is not so strong. After that, once selected target customers and reviewed with the factory its production capacity, we need to prepare a short term and middle term forecast. Nowadays, considering how variable, unstable and sometimes unpredictable is the market, I don’t want even to thing about a long term forecast. Following this first steps we need to start some marketing campaigns. Brand awareness is a must.
If you are working in strict contact with the board you should very often report how things are going and fight to convince them that without a proper investment it will be very hard to have results in a short time. This is a difficult task because you know that time is really short and competition doesn’t wait for you. The board need time to decide and, as I said, budget is very limited.
So, the second question is coming: what now, how can I satisfy the customer while convincing him to change his mind and approve the investment?
I had quite success acting in this way. After studying the market and collecting some evidences on how should be a first basic organization, I discussed with the board underlining company’s potentialities and of course some deficiencies. Doing in this way I provoke for the first time a sort of conciousness of what really the situation was. Then I propose the strategy I just explained before, insisting that decisions should have been taken as soon as possible in order to start sales and marketing activities very fast. In addition to that I show the possibility to hire people from other departments in order to avoid additional costs. Those employees has been previously selected with HR, you should avoid organizational gaps and take advantage of company reorganization.
A small tip: when you have to face a situation like this, try to go to the meeting well documented and propose a scalable solution. If the executives you have to deal with are really sensible to invest (because of various reasons, one of this could be the lack of experience due to the fact that the company before was doing a different activity) will not be happy to see a big amount of money to be spent in a short time. Different will be the reaction to the request of a moderate investment related to concrete results. Yes, sure, be aware to show always concrete and reachable target.
Once your customer will make his decision, hopefully approving your proposal, you have to focus on some customers you believe can give you positive results in a short time, this is fundamental because you have to show sooner or later that the proposed strategy works well.
Closing this article I must say that experiencing activities like the one I just described is really important for a management point of view. Due to the complexity of the scenario and the huge amount of elements to be considered it gives to whom is involved an inestimable value added on his consulting abilities. Situations like this are quite common nowadays and be able to managing them with competence is really appreciated.