Argumentatively sales is the lifeblood of a company. However, if not properly staffed and managed the sales department can also be a liability. In smaller organizations, the sales department is often understaffed, consisting of the owners and possibly one or two other individuals. This creates a company dependency on just a few key individuals. Moreover, owners or key employees are often involved in the hiring and training process which means they must forego other important duties. Therefore the risk of a wrong hire can be disastrous to the bottom line. One way to get around this issue is to get more people involved in sales related activities. There are several methods to achieving this goal.
Internally all employees can participate in the selling process. Employees within other departments communicate with clients and prospects on a daily basis; customer service fields calls, finance establishes new accounts or calls on existing invoices, operations ask order related questions. With a little training these employees can learn to ask sales related questions, such as inquiring about upcoming projects or asking for referrals.
Employees have friends and associates that may be interested in the company’s products/services. Often the main reason that such conversations do not take place is the person’s inability to effectively describe what the company does in a sales related fashion. Ask an internal employee to describe what the company does—you may find as many different answers as the number of people you ask. Providing all employees with a bit of sales training will go a long way.
Companies can also consider creating a commission only sales force by offering referrals. This may motivate others to provide you with contact information or new opportunities that they would not otherwise have considered. In most cases a 10% commission is still less costly than the salary, expenses and overhead associated with a sales person.
Entrepreneurial businesses must think differently. They often lack adequate capital investment limiting the amount of people they can hire and marketing dollars they can invest. For many small companies, becoming a selling organization can be an effective growth strategy.
Additional insights can be found in the ebook, 60 Key Esentials to Business Success: Leadership, Strategy, Finance, Operations, Marketing and Sales.