For over a decade years the Nation Media Group and KPMG Audit firm have recognized excellence in the mid-sized businesses in the country. Their definition of mid-sized business are firms whose annual turnover is above Kshs 50 Million. These firms are from diverse industries. Some are old players, some are family businesses, and some are relatively new entrants in their field.
Defining the Mid-Sized Sales Challenge
We have had the privilege to offer our sales performance improvement services to some of those who have been recognized in the awards as well as many other firms that are similar to those in the Top 100 Club. From these engagements we have regularly encountered what we have called the Mid-Sized Sales Challenge.
The Mid-Sized Sales Challenge is experienced when seemingly great selling efforts don’t translate to corresponding sales growth. Before becoming a mid-sized business a little sale effort resulted in increase in revenues, customers, orders and repeat purchases. The growth curve is steep until after getting to mid-sized point. Then everything plateaus and if it is not managed well decline sets in.
What is the cause Mid-Sized Sales Challenge and what can be done to cure the challenge? There are many sources but the one we have observed in most businesses is the super salesperson syndrome. This means a business whose sales success is built around one man or woman-the sales superstar.
The Super Salesperson Syndrome
In the pre-midsized Million turnover the business is mainly driven by one sales super star who in most cases is the founder or owner. He generates business through the drive and networks to achieve the mark. He is the key account manager is mainly aware of all major deals. This star is not just great at selling he is great at ensuring customer orders are serviced and is also probably the best in sales operations. The sales success of the business is synonymous with the great sales person the sales super star is.
The sales superstar understands everything about the customer- their needs, their motivation, their buying cycle. They can smell a good client from the car park.
The sales superstar wows other sales people in the business and they turn to him to generate sales opportunities or close them for the rest of the sales people.
However, after the getting to the peak the superstar plateaus or slides down which leads to similar occurrence in the whole business. The clients he is handling are usually too many for one person. He has outgrown hustling for business hence few new opportunities are generated.
Below the superstar there are few great salespeople who will get to the level of the superstar. Midsized businesses usually have a problem in retaining great sales talent. Due to lack of a clear plan to attract and build great sales people they are mostly training ground for many sales people before they move to greener pastures.
When they finally decide to get great sales people they do it under pressure. They hire and demand superhuman performance from newly hired people. The expectations are usually pegged on the superstar performance without cognizance of the reasons why the superstar perform as they do.
Onboarding of the new hire hardly places them on the route to sales greatness. If they do they will likely be seeking greener pastures.
Over time this becomes a vicious cycle of hiring and losing sales people.
Solving the Problem
How can this challenge be addressed? The answer lies in having a functioning sales leadership, proper sales management structures, a sales strategy and well thought out plan for building a highly performing sales team.
Each of these solutions is not a quick fix but with a clear roadmap that is followed through there will be immediate, mid-term and long-term rewards.
Some the rewards for these solutions include:
- Sales growth that not reliant on one sales superstar;
- A sales team that is consistently performing and delivering on key results areas;
- Retention of sales talent hence having many top producers in the organization.
Consequently the business owner can have peace and he watches the sales grow.
These solutions can be developed in-house or a firm can source for a sales expert. A great sales expert to turn to is one who has a 360 degrees understanding of all the nitty gritties of sales and sales management. Many of the so called sales consultants are mainly sales trainers who may be great in developing sales competencies. While this may be needed the right solution is greater than merely training the existing people.
=====================================================================================Sam is a Sales Expert with Growth Partners which is a consultancy firm specializing in Sales Performance Improvement. The firm offers sales recruitment, sales training, sales strategy development and execution as well as designing of sales management structures.
Growth Partners offers Sales Organization Audits and a free 1 Hour Sales Consultancy.