3 Ways to Eliminate Confusion and Increase Profit

By Edward Henry, President, Edward Henry Company

Imagine a world where financial data and information about prospects and accounts are entered with no generally accepted principles. Employees in the finance department just enter data based on how they interpret the understanding of accounting. The financial reports and sales forecasting would be inconsistent. Sales cycles would be based on broad perceptions of time rather than sequential actions to be completed.

Sure, just imagine such a business world. No one would trust this information. But that is precisely how companies still operate. Why?

Before CRM became ever-present, we could easily work in a simple framework that did not require an accepted form of management and selling operation protocol. The problem? We were never prepared for the emergence of CRM. We see it as a better way to manage pipeline activity, but it is far more complicated and requires data entry rules, data management guidelines, provisioning rules, and an accepted workflow consistent with industry requirements.

Companies often choose a brand of CRM as a fix to their incomplete sales infrastructure, yet fail to understand this approach generates a tremendous amount of sales waste: time spent on anything other than selling.

Companies are driven to increase sales by finding better talent, better CRM, or better leadership, but none of these abstract solutions will work as effectively as reducing the company’s sales waste – and increasing profit.

Most problems affecting a sales organization are influenced by technology and lack of management protocol. These problems include inaccurate sales forecasting, customers gone cold due to lost engagement, managers managing personalities instead of process, hiring the wrong people with the wrong recruiting profiles, training broad scopes rather than specific progressive requirements that can easily be identified, and simplified CRM practice that does not significantly decrease selling waste.

Sales managers are asked to work within poor processes – to find ways to increase sales with very little to work with. Many managers are asked to improve process without the accurate resources or knowledge to complete such a daunting task. The assessment of data and information required to address these problems is far beyond any sales manager, and even with the best manager with the best of intentions never gets close to addressing or solving these problems.

Sales needs to establish a sales control plan similar to those of manufacturing. The concept of waste reduction is the best way to approach these challenges. We need to treat our sales staff like people, but manage them like equipment with the function of creating revenue.

This can only be done by identifying all the areas of sales waste in the company. Assessments in areas of hiring, onboarding, selling process, CRM practice, training, resources, management practice, and account management will provide the starting point to sales control plan implementation.

A sales control plan consists of three areas of management implementation:

  1. HR/Recruiting: To reduce sales waste, this part of the plan should include a profile for the sales position that includes criteria based on activity and logistics. This will help prevent the waste that comes from onboarding, training, and evaluating the wrong people. It is also important to make sure the company has provided a sequential and timely way to prepare the sales representative with the plan and training for success. This happens to be the greatest area of employee churn for many companies that send their soldiers out to war with faulty weapons, or simple ground skills required for success.
  2. Sales Force: Create a sales manual (or company manual) that addresses company selling practices, policies, procedures, expectations, and requirements of the position. Also, ensure your sales cycle is based on items to be completed rather than expectations about time – if things happen when they are supposed to happen, then the chance of sales success will be increased. Adopt a CRM based on simplified data processes and mandatory fields that must have information entered or checked.
  3. Sales Management: Goal management, a sales strategy plan, and a management cycle are key elements of a sales control plan because they help constantly identify increases in sales waste – so corrective actions can be addressed promptly. This is where CRM can finally be the tool everyone in the company was hoping to love one day.

To maximize revenue while selling effectively and ethically, we need to hire the right talent and spend the least amount of time required to train them effectively. We also need to spend as little time as possible on data management and administration while still getting everything from our sales staff – giving management the ability to effectively lead rather than react.

We also need to forecast based on tangible information that can be taken seriously. Sadly, to most companies, this does not sound realistic – because the same things keep being done over and over again with the expectation of a different result. Sounds a little bit like corporate insanity, doesn’t it?

We have all the resources to enjoy this kind of management success. It requires bold leadership to step out of the box and see that what is currently being done is not working to its full capacity. Sales waste is like a garden filled with weeds. You can’t grow anything healthy where weeds continue to grow. Reduce the sales waste and grow healthy profit.

Edward Henry is president of Edward Henry Company.