Among the fastest ways for a business to fail is because of mismanagement or malfeasance by ownership. On the other hand, among the slowest ways is an ineffective or dysfunctional sales department.
Companies suffering from this malady may maintain just enough sales to stay afloat for a while, but eventually they go under because they lose one big customer or a tough new competitor arrives on the scene. To make sure your sales department is contributing to business growth, not just survival, you have to ask some tough questions. Here are four to consider:
- Does our sales department communicate customers’ needs to the rest of the company? Your sales staff works on the front lines of your industry. They are typically the first ones to hear of changes in customers’ needs and desires. Make sure your sales people are sharing this information in both meetings and written communications (sales reports, emails, and the like).
It is particularly important for them to share insights with the marketing department. But everyone in your business should be laser-focused on what customers really want.
- Does the sales department handle customer complaints promptly and satisfactorily? This is related to our first point but critical enough to investigate on its own. Unhappy customers can destroy a business — especially these days, when everyone shares everything on social media.
Your sales staff should have a specific protocol for immediately responding to a customer complaint, gathering as much information as possible, and offering a fair resolution. Track complaints carefully and in detail, looking for trends that may indicate deeper problems with your products or services.
- Do our salespeople create difficulties for employees in other departments? If a sales department is getting the job done, many business owners look the other way when sales staff play by their own rules or do not treat their co-workers with the utmost professionalism. Confronting a problem like this is not easy; you may unearth some tricky issues involving personalities and philosophies.
Nonetheless, your salespeople should interact positively and productively with other departments. For example, do they correctly and timely complete all necessary sales documents? If not, they could be causing major headaches for other departments.
- Are we taking our sales staff for granted? Salespeople tend to spend much of their time ‘outside’ a company — either literally out on the road making sales calls or on the phone communicating with customers. As such, they may work ‘out of sight and out of mind.’
Keep a close eye on your sales staff, both so you can congratulate them on jobs well done and fix any problems that may arise. Our firm can help you analyze your sales numbers to help identify ways this department can provide greater value to the company.