The post-pandemic economy is on a tear. It’s one of the most exciting and explosive periods of expansion since WWII. All the signs of a once-in-a-generation year are there. The wholesale sales index is showing double-digit year-over-year increases. On top of that, price increases are providing a nice tailwind, which should make hitting your numbers a sure bet.
By the time you read this, more than half of 2021 will be over. So it’s the perfect time to assess your progress during this remarkable year.
Suppose you’ve seen substantial growth, i.e., year-over-year increases in the teens. In that case, you are doing something right and you can stop reading this article. However, if you are not growing at a year-over-year rate of at least 10 percent, then keep reading.
What’s holding you back? First, let’s look at the most likely culprits.
Sales Leadership: So goes sales leadership, so goes the salesforce. Does your sales leadership spend enough time coaching and developing your sellers? Do you know how much time they should be spending on that crucial task? How effective are they?
Sales Talent: Do you have the right people in the right seats? How do you know? What is their upside potential? Who can be developed? Who is worth saving? Are you adding sales talent rapidly enough to replace those that are retiring?
Anemic Pipeline: Most sales failures occur because the sales pipeline was not sufficient to support the company’s growth objectives. Is your pipeline predictive of sales this month, next month and six months from now? Do you know precisely how large your pipeline needs to be to meet your growth targets?
Sales Model: Examine your sales model. Be brutally honest. Can you scale? By scale, we mean grow sales, while lowering your cost of sales? Does your sales organization consistently gain market share?
You are gaining market share when you are growing faster than gross domestic product, plus inflation. That means that if inflation is 6 percent and the economy is growing at 4 percent, you have to be growing 10 percent to maintain your share. Anything less, and you’re falling behind.
How much of your revenue growth comes from new customers? Are your sellers selling or spending time managing existing accounts? Do you have a robust inside sales team?
We have asked a lot of questions. Here’s one more…where do you start? The first step is to get the data you need to make informed decisions. Begin by evaluating your sales team with an eye toward answering these four questions:
- Can we improve?
- How much can we improve?
- How long will it take?
- What will it take?
As Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
Jim Peduto is the Managing Partner and the co-founder of Knowledgeworx, LLC. Jim combines practical insight and big data to help CEOs and owners transform their businesses.