When companies lack leads or have an empty sales funnel, it’s common for execs to start searching for the newest, hottest sales- and lead-focused solutions. But these are just Band-Aids, and they won’t help you achieve long-term success if the source of your trouble lies in the internal functioning and processes of your company.
Here’s a look at the three internal steps you need to take before you can make any solid movement forward.
Determine your ideal customer
Does your team treat every lead the same? Think again.
Before you can create a high-functioning sales organization, you need to know exactly who you sell to. Just as a regular gas engine doesn’t run on diesel, you can’t transform prospects into customers if you don’t sell what they need.
You might have a single target audience — or you might have a couple. Take a look at everything your company offers. Then, identify the people who need exactly that.
With a clear understanding of who your ideal customers are, you can move forward in a coordinated — and profitable — direction.
Define what your company does for customers
With your ideal audience in mind, it’s time to define your company’s value. Your value definition is like GPS: it gives your team a clear path to follow. Plus, it makes it easier for you to attract qualified leads and maintain their interest.
Before you can increase leads, you and your team need to agree on what you do for customers. Sit down with your team and identify the words or phrases that describe your company.
It’s worth the effort to make sure your team is aligned around the value you provide. As you explore different opportunities, this infrastructure of what you do and who you do it for will help guide your path
Clarify your brand message
Finally, once you know your value internally, you need to communicate that value externally. So, before you set out for more leads, make sure you’ve clarified your brand message. This means putting your value message into words that are meaningful to your prospects and customers.
Value messaging looks like this:
“We help _____ do _____ by providing _____.”
“We help manufacturers source hard to find materials through a web-based platform that uses search technologies to find and rate material providers that have immediate inventory.”
Simple, yet extremely effective.
Consider your ideal audience, what you help them do, and how you help them do it. Just as a map will point you in the direction and a full gas tank will help you reach your destination, these three steps will help you fill your sales funnel with qualified leads, and then turn those qualified leads into customers. This is the foundation of a solid, high-performing sales engine.
Learn more about how we can help align your team with a Sales Engine Workshop or a Sales Engine Program.
In a prior article, we covered 7 symptoms of a poorly performing sales organization. If any of those symptoms sound familiar, you might think that all you need to do to turn your sales engine around is to hire a new VP of sales. But that may not help. If fact, it could make things worse.
Here are 5 reasons why hiring a new VP won’t fix your sales funnel — and what you should do instead.
Your problems are deeper than a single person
A VP of sales can be great at managing a team and terrific at sales. But, no matter how great, they can’t transform an organization all on their own. Just as the best driver in the world can’t drive a car without wheels, the best hire can’t lead a team without a foundation.
Don’t expect your VP of sales to perform miracles on your organization. Instead, focus on the deeper changes necessary to achieve your desired results. Think about what issues led you to want to hire someone new in the first place and work backward from there.
Your problems are broader than a single person
A sales executive didn’t get there by chance: they are fantastic communicators and know how to orchestrate a team with many moving parts. But just as a single person doesn’t cause organizational problems, a single person can’t solve all of them either.
Take a look at your VP job description. Is it realistic for one person? Or does it reflect the responsibilities of an entire department? If it’s the latter, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Before publishing that job description, think carefully about what you’re asking your sales VP to do. Can a single person really manage the sales team, rebrand your company, run tradeshows once a month, and still regularly close $200,000 accounts? Probably not.
Your culture needs to change
Motivating employees to meet their sales goals is a strong skill of a sales executive — and it’s probably one of the reasons you want to hire someone new. But hiring someone new doesn’t automatically change an existing organizational culture.
For example, does your company parking lot empty out by 4 pm every day? This may be a sign your culture needs to change, not your VP of sales. If your team doesn’t show up every day ready to hit the ground running, you have a deeper problem that needs to be solved before you simply increase sales. Bringing in a new VP may help this issue, but now you’re looking to the new hire to be a culture expert in addition to a sales leader.
Your processes need to change
What the previous items on this list show is that if your internal processes don’t work, adding a new sales VP — no matter how skilled they are — won’t solve the problem.
So, it’s time to turn your attention to your processes, starting with the most important one.
How’s your team’s communication? Is everyone aligned or are you operating in silos? Does everyone agree on your core values and follow a clearly defined process for moving prospects down the sales funnel?
Organizational communication breakdowns are a red flag something isn’t right. While a VP of sales no doubt is a great communicator, they aren’t the magic bullet. Instead, sit down and identify any common communication breakdowns within your organization. By addressing these problems first, you can ensure that everyone is moving forward in the same direction…before you drop big bucks on a new executive hire.
It’s a quick fix that won’t bring lasting improvement
Quick fixes are always tempting. They’re also not long-term solutions.
Hiring a new VP without fixing the existing problems in your sales organization may produce an immediate positive effect. But, pretty soon, everyone will fall back into their usual — dysfunctional — routines. That means 6 months down the road, you’ll find yourself in the same place you are now…and likely starting to think about replacing your VP once again.
Only when you have a strong understanding of the holes in your sales process can you add a VP of sales with confidence — and actually see some tangible changes.
Strategically hiring a new VP of sales within an already high-functioning sales organization is a great idea. It means your engine is running smoothly and you’re ready to take your company to the next level.
But, for all the reasons outlined above, hiring a new VP as a way to fix something that’s already broken in your organization probably won’t deliver the results you want — despite how talented that new hire may be.
If you’re thinking about hiring a new VP of sales, but aren’t sure it’s the right step, we can help. Take the sales engine diagnostic or find out more about sale organization consulting.
I’m Karl Becker and I help individuals and organizations improve how they sell. My focus is on clear, concise, actionable solutions.
In short, I'll show you how to increase performance and generate more revenue.
This blog shares approaches, tools, and ideas that I have seen create success.
If you’re interested in discussing anything, please reach out.