Armed with schedules, prepped in advance and hopes held high, sales forces from across the globe will march off to battle April 30 to May 3 at United Fresh 2012.
When these weary soldiers return home they will begin the process of sorting business cards — chasing leads — and demonstrating value to the organizations that send them.
But soon, “business as usual” will return, leaving us to once again debate the ROI of convention attendance and effort.
Because many return to sales practices, systems and structures that are fundamentally flawed and cannot be fixed with even the best efforts at a convention.
I have worked with hundreds of sales organizations during my business career and can boil the weak ones down to a fatal flaw in one or more of these five areas:
1. No annual sales plan
“Do more of the same — only better” is not a plan … neither is top management giving the sales rep a number to chase … nor is “sell whatever we grow.”
The best sales plans are short, simple and to the point.
Each sales rep should create a strategic and tactical plan for acquiring new business, growing the existing book of business and making or exceeding the sales numbers within their territory, market channel or product mix.
These individual plans are rolled into an all-company sales plan that is the foundation for all other department plans and budgets.
2. “Order takers” who sit at their desks
Many produce companies bemoan that sales reps have evolved into highly paid order takers chained to their desks in a flurry of daily phone conversations and paperwork.
At some point, the organization questions investment return and attempts to turn these poor people into something they are not — the guy out chasing the dream and knocking on doors.
The best organizations create organizational structure and role clarity around hunters and gatherers and are willing to invest in both pieces of the sales puzzle.
3. “Lone Ranger” still leading the charge
Just like the elusive search for Bigfoot, some companies still hope to hire an industry rainmaker complete with a fat book of business.
It all sounds great until the inevitable discussion about who really owns the business.
And while the debate ensues, a new generation business model has emerged.