I met someone a few years ago who told me his business was so successful that he couldn’t imagine it being any better. I didn’t believe him but told him if that was the case then he should sell it.
I have certainly never seen perfection, and I might struggle to say that I have seen the excellence that companies are apparently all looking to achieve.
One of the benefits of doing what we do is that we get to have a look under the hoods of many different companies to see who is doing well in the world of sales, and who isn’t doing particularly well.
I am going to use examples of two companies that we got to know in 2019 to highlight what good looked like - and not so good. I won’t tell you who they are, but they are real companies. The good one knows that I am talking about them, the bad one doesn’t.
For the purpose of this exercise, we will call them Company Blue and Company Red.
- There is a great culture. You can see it and feel it when you walk into this company. There is energy, there is activity (when the team is in the office), there is a nice physical environment and lots of laughter.
- There is technology. Not too much - but enough. The technology is enabling the sales team to not only do their job but to do it well. They use technology to find and engage with prospects and they get a pretty steady flow of quality leads from marketing.
- There is solid leadership. The sales manager is consistently one on one coaching, the salespeople have success plans and there are some good learning and development.
- The team get on but also have a slight competition element. Once again, not too much but enough for individuals to want to be at the top of the pile. Roles and territories are clear, and the sales team supports each other.
- There is consistency. There are clear processes, the team understands what they should be doing and how they should be doing it.
- One particular area this company has focused on is the personal brand of their sales team. Values are important, their LinkedIn pages are consistent, and they recognise that sales is also about the long game.
- There is growth - in people and in revenue
- The focus is on the customer. Not the company’s products but the outcomes their company can have on their clients.
- Customers love them.
- They are far from perfect, but good and trying to get better every day.
- They all seem flat and bored. It seems that people have to drag themselves to work, there is a salesperson who has been in the same role for over 15 years and apparently they know best and drag down the rest of the team. There is little energy, only frustration and boredom. Seems to be a blame culture.
- There is little technology. There is a CRM but the sales team refuse to use it and hence management doesn’t believe in it. Sales and marketing do not work together, and the sales team typically blames the company for not enough leads
- There is poor leadership. The sales manager was promoted into the role for the wrong reasons and has no real support, they run a sales meeting that is full of admin, a focus on give me more sales, and it provides little motivation or development.
- There is competition amongst the team but not in a good way. Its dog eat dog.
- There is little consistency. No processes, everyone sells the way that they want, and it seems to be that the only lever is a focus on price.
- Only a few of the team are on LinkedIn, and those that are seem to have different company profiles, including some with random unprofessional images.
- Things are stagnant: The CEO is frustrated, the manager blames the team, the team blames the management, and no one is growing.
- The company focuses on its products and not the impact they can have on their clients.
- Not sure how many of their customers love them, but suspect not many, if any.
- The business is a bit of a train wreck
The moral of the story is to be Company Blue and not Company Red.