Do you ever feel like your business is a supporting player instead of a lead actor in your industry? In any sector, there are a few super-successful businesses that seem to effortlessly rack up big sales, while the other companies struggle.
What makes the difference? What separates the "A" companies from the "B" players?
Chris Lytle has some theories. He's the founder of the sales-training company Fuel, and the author of a classic business book that's just out in a new edition: The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits.
Here is his list of the common roadblocks holding "B" players back:
- You have no philosophy of selling. You haven't developed the belief that your time is as valuable as your customer's time. You haven't learned about selling. To paraphrase Socrates: "The unexamined sales call is not worth making." Thinking about what you do is a critical part of the sales job.
- You have a manager who doesn't hold salespeople accountable to a process that works. Lytle calls this "a rampant problem."
- You have a fear of your sales pitch "looking scripted."
- You're worried about appearing pushy.
- Your sales team fears success. (You'd be surprised how many people do.)
- Instead of seeking out and learning from "A" players, you hang around and commiserate with other "B" players.
- Your sales staff doesn't practice enough nor does it have a drive to excel. "B" players are content to stay where they are and be "good enough."
- You are too focused on your own problems and insecurities, instead of on understanding your customer's point of view.
- Rather than being of service to customers, you worry about being liked.
If you don't have "A" players on your sales team, you need to get them, Lytle says. You can develop them in-house, steal them from the competition, recruit them -- or become one yourself.
Lytle shares the opinion of hiring expert Mark Peterson: Entrepreneurs tend to look for sales people with industry experience. But just because someone has industry experience doesn't mean they can sell. Peterson recommends you test sales staff out before you hire to make sure they know selling as well as they know the business.
For entrepreneurs who are the sales team, selling is, of course, a big challenge. You have to fit it in with so many other tasks. But it pays to learn all you can and keep improving your sales pitch. What you find out can help vault your company onto the "A" team.
Are you a "B" player? Tell us your roadblocks to bringing your "A" game.