“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
~ Malcolm X
The Uncertainty Test
A lot of business coaches are promoting the litmus test of your business’s functional systems as the ability to take a 30-day vacation without checking in, and discover that sales and delivery have increased in your absence. It’s a vital concept… even if you know that your business won’t pass the test it gives you certainty and a goal.
There’s a similar test that I developed for the sales teams I coach to assess their preparedness for changes in the market that I call “The Uncertainty Test”. You may not like the information the test gives you, but it provides a baseline against which you can measure your progress toward sales resiliency that I predict will be crucial in the next few months.
What Would Happen to Your Sales if…
This has been a challenging year for most businesses and it has highlighted those which have robust and resilient sales systems and those which don’t.
Here are some of the important questions for you that will reveal the strength of your sales system:
- What proportion of your sales come from long-term nurture vs. cold contacts
- Do you have systematic nurture processes?
- Do you have systematic outreach systems?
- If a key member of your sales team left, would it dramatically reduce sales?
- Do you have a system for developing your team members?
There are several more revealing questions that I use when I’m working with a business or sales team to build or strengthen their sales resilience, but by the time I’ve asked these 5 questions the person I’m talking to is often seriously concerned… And rightly so!
In a booming economy, which we’ve all been enjoying for the past eight or nine years resilient sales systems didn’t matter much. Over the coming months (or possibly years), that will change. There will still be abundant opportunity, but it will flow towards those who are prepared to do the work and learn the skills that others reject.
Three Parts of a Successful Sales System
Building a successful sales system is relatively simple, but it does take hard work and an investment of time and energy. Often, when I’m consulting with clients they’ll say, “I’m so glad that you are managing this strategic process, Chandell. I don’t think we would have stuck with it if you hadn’t been in charge but it’s transforming our results.”
There are three important parts that you need to build:
- Expectations: what actions and attitudes do you expect from your team (and that includes any one who is outward-facing). These will included calls, research, nurture, surprise follow-up etc.
- Processes and Systems: you should have processes and systems for every aspect of your sales and service including client follow-up because it’s all part of the next sale. You will probably find ways to strengthen them over time, but these documented systems should be a baseline that is rigidly followed.
- Training and Evaluation: even your sales stars need to keep their mindset and practices sharp. If they really are expert, ask them to help with your training program design and delivery so they learn new skills.
Systems are the Key to Resilience
Over the past few months I’ve noticed that sales superstars who don’t have strong supporting systems are struggling! Offices are closed, phones are unattended, and gatekeepers have more resources at their fingertips to keep unexpected callers out than ever before.
On the other hand, teams who have robust systems in place have a long list of existing customers to follow up, new prospects to connect with, and they are closing sales steadily. I’m not certain that the market will be this strong in another six months, but I am confident that these sales people will continue to attract a steady flow of deals.
One of the key distinctive is their organised system for following up enquiries. I was talking to someone yesterday whose Business Insurance had lapsed because the Insurer had ‘FORGOTTEN’ to send through the renewal notice and process the auto-payment! I thought that was extraordinary, but one of the other participants in the conversation pointed out that their accountant, lawyer, and stationery supplier had similarly dropped the ball (and were being replaced).
My point: a lot of people are using Covid-19 as an excuse for ‘business flakiness’. If you refuse to go down that path and stick to your systems and quality standards you will stand out like the Eiffel Tower as a landmark of innovation and quality.
Confident Conversion: 90 days to More Cash, More Clients, More Impact
The open sessions of Confident Conversion run 3-4 times per year and are suitable for small business owners or sales managers who want the process of choreographing every aspect of their sales and marketing to be facilitated and who also want an outside eye to help them build the business systems they need for stability and growth.
I also provide various levels of in-house sales training for teams which can take the burden of designing your sales systems and overseeing your sales team off your shoulders and sets you free to focus on the core aspects of your business.