I see sales targets being missed, I see a steady progression of new Sales Directors and new BDM’s with no change in the outcomes, I see under-performance being seen as acceptable, or at least the “new normal”; I see sales and marketing working as opposing forces. Most significantly, I see the lack of growth replacing cost reduction as the primary discussion point of many senior executives.
Very few Australian companies are demonstrating top line growth from their internal sales teams and turn instead to M&A solutions, along with the risks associated with bought revenue as the only alternative to grow their business.
The traditional solution of throwing more people at the revenue problem has more often than not had the opposite effect of driving up costs, with sales people not reaching target, and therefore delivering a negative ROI on sales acquisition costs.
My key message is that organic growth is achievable and can deliver a far superior ROIwhen compared to M&A options, AND the organic growth game has changed.
The first thing to stop doing is trying to find a better Sales Director or better BDM’s, which is the definition of insanity: continually doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
So what is the solution?
The old adage of throwing enough mud until some sticks is a road to no-where, making more calls in the hope of stumbling across new business is people and brand destroying. Making strategic targeted contacts to companies that can buy, and will buy, is the road to success.
The generic low structure approach of sales people doing their own thing needs to be replaced with a highly structured approach with BDM’s implementing a well-researched company plan, including Sales Campaigns and Sales Tools supplied by marketing.
The modern business development team must integrate sales and marketing and be data driven, centralised and structured. This means developing the USP and, with Data Analysts and Segment Managers, applying this to target segments to create a differentiated CVP and create targeted client lists in a multilayered approach.
Prospect contact strategies or actions should not be the role of the person who quotes and closes the business (the BDM). Target market contact success penetration percentages, and other metrics should be reported to board level. Prospecting needs to be talked about, it needs to be reported, and it needs consistent accountability.
Redesigning the business development function is self-funding from the onset. The opportunity is for fewer BDM’s, targeting fewer clients, spending more time in front of the right client executives, offering a tested proposition, supported by other teams, equally well deployed to play to their strengths. This is a significant transformation for many firms. However the prize is organic growth, attracting and retaining the best Sales People, and reducing the risks associated with M&A or the lack of an accountability-driven business development and sales strategy.