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Sales Growth, Whose Job Is It Anyway?
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By Anthony Zecca

Internal sales growth is one of the most difficult challenges facing CEOs. Year-to-year sales increases are a struggle and the road is littered with failed initiatives and/or top line increases that fail to dramatically improve profits. Excuses for lack of performance far outweigh creative solutions to improve sales and profits. As a result, CEO frustration increases as the search for profitable sales growth continues to be elusive.

How often has your team said “The economy has slowed” or “Our customers just aren’t buying” or “We can’t meet their pricing and make money” or the worst “We lost the business to…”. How often have you said, “This is not acceptable”, yet, no one has delivered improved results. It’s time to get off the sales merry-go-round and change the results.

Dramatically improving sales (profitably) requires that you develop and implement strategies based on certain key principles:

  • What is your Value Proposition? Surveys show 75% of executives cannot articulate or agree on what their company’s Value Proposition is. So how can your current or potential customers understand and be motivated to buy?
  • What competitive advantages do you have (other than price, quality and service) that truly differentiates your company? This is a tough question to answer and one that most management teams can’t. What about yours?
  • What is your Competitive Positioning? Is it innovative products? Maybe it’s operational excellence or customer intimacy. Whatever it may be, like the North Star, you need a fixed competitive position to focus organizational activities since you can’t be all things to all people.
  • What is your Growth Opportunity Profile? Where are the opportunities, and what resources are needed to take advantage of those opportunities?
Every key manager should be involved in answering the above questions since each question is not just about sales, but about the company as a whole – who and what you are and what the organization has to become to dramatically increase sales. The problem with many companies is a lack of organizational alignment where the sales message is not supported by the organizational structure and existing processes. For example, Macy’s talks about “the shopping experience”, yet their stores are poorly staffed and poorly maintained with merchandise in heaps or on the floor. Where is the alignment and how many customers do you think they have lost?

Developing sales strategies around the four key principles listed above will insure that you are building strategies based on the future and not trying to create breakthrough changes by tweaking the past. With a strong, shared understanding of each principle, you can develop strategies that work. You will also develop organizational strategies that will force an alignment in organizational thinking from the receiving to the shipping dock.

Developing sales strategies is management’s job – not just sales management, but all of management - to create the organizational buy-in and focus to make it all work. Each manager should share the strategies with their employees to insure that everyone understands how their day-to-day activities will support the success of each strategy. Sales is the main reason you are in business and that is why every member of management must be involved in deciding how sales will grow and what the organizational impacts are going to be. Then, it becomes everyone’s job.

Article courtesy of Family Business Strategies.

About the author: Anthony Zecca can be reached via email or at http://www.jhcohn.com.

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