I'm hopeful that all of you are experiencing a strong 2018 on both the top and bottom lines of your businesses. I remember in high school, after going undefeated during the season, one of my coaches commended our team for our success. But in the very next breath, he said there are a few areas where we can improve. Our businesses are very similar to this example. We can always find ways to improve our businesses and relationships. I’m pleased to offer the following ideas that may help all of us start 2019 with solid momentum. Let’s take the offensive.
POTENTIAL AREAS TO ENHANCE
In my opinion, establishing a short list of important company goals to drive your businesses forward is critically important to achieving success. Below are some areas that we believe are vital to executing our objectives:
- Make sure that whatever the goals are, they will drive your company to the next level.
- Tie your company goals into your branch/department goals. Incentivize all managers when their goals are executed.
- Employee goals should be part of the management/company goals. In other words, goals from every department or from each employee should be part of the company goal, whenever possible.
- Review these goals quarterly at every level of management. It’s a great time to see how the company is tracking. Make adjustments where necessary along the journey while enjoying your success.
Sales Management and Development
Consider the following steps, which could lead to sales growth in 2019.
- If you have an underachiever who has not met management’s expectations, consider not investing any more sales time with this person. There could be another role for this person, but clearly not in sales. A good salesperson will always bring opportunities into a company one way or another. We spend way too much time and money ignoring these situations, which consequently results in below-average performance along with a lack of company profitability.
- Good companies ask their salespeople to grow sales annually. You need to come up with a growth percentage for each salesperson that is agreeable with management. Once identified, set realistic goals accordingly. For example, if you have an outside salesperson who needs to grow sales 25 percent to hit management’s goal, give this person a clear road map to success. Perform, at minimum, monthly follow-up meetings. Your meetings/goal reviews may include new accounts, more market share of existing accounts and quality of sales calls to name a few.
- Always find a way to say yes. Too often when I talk to branch managers and other companies, there is an awful lot of, “We can’t do that,” “Sorry, we’re too busy” or “No, it will have to wait until tomorrow or the next day.” We are a yes business and if we don’t say yes, then our competition will.
- Add new customers. I find that veteran salespeople have a difficult time bringing on new accounts. The excuse they usually use is that they are too busy. In the normal course of a year, these same salespeople are losing market share to the competition. Some customers may have credit issues, others may have significant loss of business and other customers may even be going out of business. It is imperative for our companies to ask our salespeople and branch managers to bring on a certain amount of new accounts quarterly to maintain the health of our businesses. It should be part of their compensation plan.
- Review the salesperson’s account list. Thorough semiannual account reviews can be very helpful in growing business. The fact that management is asking good questions makes the salespeople more accountable for success with their accounts.
- Update your commission plan for your salespeople. Ensure that your current commission plans are directed toward the most profitable products/services that your company offers. The old flat commission rate on everything is outdated. At EDGES Electrical Group, we are currently reviewing/changing our plan directed toward the above.
More than ever, our employees need to be well versed in selling our products and services. In other words, we can’t always rely on our manufacturers and reps like we could in years past. Business is moving at a rapid pace and customers want to move onto their next responsibility. Good companies have incorporated training into all segments of their businesses and it is often tied into their annual performance reviews/goal-setting process. Below are some valuable training resources that we can utilize successfully.
- IMARK University: Suppliers are constantly uploading product courses for IMARK members. There are hundreds of courses available at no charge to your company.
- IMARK Gateway to Growth: There are more than 1,000 product ‘capsules’ on key supplier products. They pass along a lot of information in a short amount of time (60-90 seconds).
- YouTube: This is another area for great training for all employees.
- Capitol Marketing Concepts: This IMARK service provider has several selling tools that will sharpen your employees’ skills.
We are in changing times. As we wrap up 2018, I hope that some of the ideas above will help you and your companies make necessary and profitable adjustments for 2019. We are very fortunate to be part of IMARK, where we have so many tools that enhance our businesses. Here’s to a successful and fulfilling 2019!