As you begin the new year, you’re likely thinking about how to grow your business to hit your goals.
One great method to grow your business is to identify and solve problems that have been holding you back. But it can be difficult to figure out which problems have been affecting your growth, and you don’t want to spend time and energy (and money!) tackling a problem, only to find out there’s a bigger one you missed.
We’ve identified six major categories of problems that hamper sales, and we have five questions for you to ask yourself in each category. Your responses to these questions will help guide you as you decide how to grow your business in 2017.
6 Problem Areas to Diagnose How to Grow Your Business
- Is most or all of your revenue coming from a few key players?
- Are some or all salespeople consistently missing their quota?
- Do you see factions or cliques who are not aligned with the company’s sales strategies, or chose to go their own way?
- Are some or all members of the sales team consistently refusing to follow processes and use tools?
- Are some salespeople doing the bare minimum?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, you may have a problem with your salespeople.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to fire everyone and start over, but you may need to conduct individual evaluations and make some tough decisions. Establish a culture of accountability and transparency, and improve your hiring process based on the lessons you’ve learned.
- Do your manages lack a clear and consistent process for setting goals and reporting on progress? When you meet with them to review performance, do they provide anecdotal feedback rather than clear metrics?
- Are your managers showing favoritism?
- Are you experiencing high turnover on your sales team?
- Does the management seem “random,” such as surprise meetings or ride-alongs, inconsistent sales team meetings, or off-the-cuff coaching?
- Are your managers focused on developing sales rather than developing salespeople?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, you may have a problem with your sales managers, or your sales management process.
We’ve found the best way to improve your sales management is to develop a good process and evaluate managers against it. You can then root out managers who are unable to meet expectations and integrate any new hires directly into the process.
- Have you documented your sales process?
- Do members of the sales team all seem to follow different approaches and use different tools?
- Are you consistently receiving feedback from other departments that the sales team is “hard to work with” and “has unreasonable requests”?
- Are you using an outdated process that was developed years ago and hasn’t been updated?
- Is your CRM system used as a data repository or free-for-all reporting system rather than as a step-by-step guide?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, you may have a problem with your sales process.
We’d recommend building a dynamic sales playbook that supports and enhances your sales process, then using the playbook to identify areas for improvement and build out new sales process steps.
- Do your customers often seem confused about what they’ve bought?
- Have you provided structured training to your sales team?
- Is this the first sales position for many members of your sales team?
- Does your team seem unaware of common best selling practices?
- Would you avoid buying from your salespeople?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, you may have a problem with sales training.
Sales training is a broad category, and we’d recommend that you develop training in a variety of areas, including product/service training, sales process training, and sales skill training. You may discover that your team is strong in some areas and weak in others, and you may consider which training topics you can cover internally and for which you’ll engage a training partner.
Document your training program in your sales playbook, and review and update it regularly to ensure that it’s effectively supporting your team’s growth and development.
Product and Service
- Have you not updated your offering in a while? Have you avoided conducting market research?
- Do your salespeople always offer discounts and credits?
- Are you in a marketplace that is extremely crowded with no clear differentiation?
- Do you often receive customer service complaints?
- Is your audience very small or shrinking?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, you may have a problem with your offering.
When you’re thinking of how to grow your business, this can be one of the biggest challenges. You’ll need to decide whether you need to fully change your offering or simply reposition or rebrand it.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you include a plan for training your salespeople.
- Does your team lack strong marketing collateral to share with prospects and clients?
- Are you not getting enough leads from marketing activities, or are the leads you are getting poorly qualified?
- Does your marketing team lack a program for nurturing and developing leads?
- Is your website a poor reflection of your brand, or does it look out of date?
- Is your brand unknown in your local community, your industry, or among your prospects?
If you answered yes to three or more of the above questions, you may have a problem with your marketing.
We’d recommend starting by evaluating whether your problem is more related to marketing strategy or marketing communications/collateral. These are two very different functions, and you may be succeeding in one and struggling in the other.
Once you’ve identified your biggest marketing problem, work to solve it through a combination of hiring, strategy, process improvement, and budget allocations. Marketing problems can be challenging, but solving them is an essential part of how to grow your business.
I hope these 6 areas help you as you plan how to grow your business in the coming year! For a deeper dive, check out our resource on Troubleshooting Sales Problems.