How to Make Audit of Your Sales Department According to 12 Key Points
Author: Valeriy Pozhidaiev, CEO and managing partner of SellClones
When a new product (or service) is launched on the market, there is an undeclared war between the marketing department and the sales department. This war starts when something does not go the way it has been planned:
– sales volumes are lower than necessary;
– a number of clients buying the new product does not meet the plans;
– numeric distribution indicators are not met etc.
Many market specialists have read the article that has caused a great stir, How a Pimple-Faced, Gap-Toothed Girl Will Destroy Your Marketing. Its author jokingly demonstrates how marketing efforts and money join in the point of contact of the seller’s representative (pimple-faced and gap-toothed shop assistant) and the buyer. Why has the article caused such a great stir? Because market specialists have found a whipping boy, i.e. the sales department guilty of all the trouble. Still, are market specialists and the author of the article right?
Here are the questions I have tried to answer in this article?
1. How to help the marketing department and the sales department find a common language?
2. What is the missing element in your marketing which prevents successful market launch of a new product?
3. How to work against your competitors’ campaigns without the pricing war?
One of the issues in interaction between the marketing department and the sales department is their isolation from each other.
For instance, the company has decided to launch a new product or service on the market. The marketing department has developed a launch plan that includes various advertising activities, promotion campaigns and even training for the sales force.
Product launch and market share plans have been drawn up. Sales for the first, second and third months have been forecast. For half a year and a year. The launch has started… And, despite all the efforts and invested money, the product is not sold as forecast.
If it is a FMCG market, numeric and quality distribution plans are not met (the product may be sold by chains, but has a great difficulty appearing in the retail segment and HoReCa).
When it comes to B2B sales, the situation may be as follows. A contract is signed with certain sales obligations. Stock is supplied to the warehouse. Product managers are trained, the advertising campaign is run,… and it fails.
Then, the sales department starts blaming the marketing department for insufficient activities, and the marketing department accuses the sales department of insufficient efforts.
Let’s see how it happens in the field. A trade representative or sales manager that needs to meet the new product sales plan comes to the client, and they have approximately the following conversation:
The seller: Hello, Mr. Johns. We are offering a fantastic new product. I would like to sell it to you.
The client: Not interested.
The seller: But it has great characteristics, and it will help you…
The client: I don’t have (money, free space, intention to sell something new etc.).
The seller: And we are running an extensive advertising campaign now: TV, radio, bill boards…
The client: When buyers start asking for it, I will take it then.
The seller: Why don’t you take it now? (Here each seller has their own strategy:
– Working for sympathy (I won’t get paid, I will be fined, I have a family to provide for, I need to repay the loan etc.).
– The second strategy is to drag the competitor’s name through the mire.
– The third strategy is to flirt.
If nothing works out, the seller turns around, cries and leaves.
This situation repeats several times, the seller does not meet the plan, and, when asked about the reason by the boss, he or she says: the product is bad, there is little advertising, high price, and other excuses heard from the client.
The head of the sales department starts a conflict with the marketing department on the basis of this very “valuable” information and tells them to decrease the price, increase the scope of marketing activity etc.
Margin is lowered to decrease the price, the special campaign is run, additional money is invested into advertising, but the result remains unchanged or improves insignificantly.
Why isn’t the necessary result achieved? What is missing? Where is the fifth element which will allow achieving the necessary results?
This is the very element that is most often forgotten, the one that will make up marketing and sales and enable them to achieve planned results together when launching a new product on the market, to increase sales of the old product or work against competitors’ advertising campaigns. This element is at the joint of marketing and sales.
This is negotiation standards for new product sales that shall be drawn up for key categories of your clients and trained by sellers before a new product is launched.
What are these standards? They are developed speech modules for each negotiation stage. In fact, it is a sales book for a new product or service.
– what to say, how to say and when to say;
– how to present;
– why clients may can be dissatisfied, and how it should be dealt with;
– what questions should be asked;
– what objections clients can have, how to respond to them etc.
There are twelve points where the deal may fail.
If your sellers have such standards, they have no difficulty:
– selling the new product correctly (rather than simply telling about it),
– overcoming initial opposition and working with standard objections of clients that always arise when new products are offered;
– getting the first order for a new product.
Why don’t such books appear in marketing departments and become a mandatory part of preparation for new product launch? They are an excellent tool to work against the competitor’s advertising activity.
If the competitor is running a pricing or product campaign, sellers are the ones to carry the can. They have to keep selling although the competitor’s product can get considerably cheaper.
Sales may go down significantly unless there are counteraction tools.
So, why aren’t there such books? Because neither the marketing department nor the sales department has a technology for creating such books.
What should be done for the sales book to appear and work in the company:
1. To carry out preparation. It includes development of the plan for creating the book. In other words, a good negotiation book or negotiation training workbook needs to be taken, and sales stages with specific contents, i.e. speech modules, need to be described.
2. To collect a focus group composed of marketing and sales staff plus a moderator who will develop these speech modules together. Marketing specialists are necessary as they know the product, its key benefits and characteristics well, and sellers know clients and selling techniques.
3. The seller training system needs to be found or developed to train sellers to use the modules.
4. Then, the standard needs to be adjusted, and successful sellers’ actions need to be found to keep improving the book all the time.
If this element is included into the new product launch, expenses for the launch may be decreased considerably, and the results (in terms of time frames, volumes of sales, market share etc.) may be improved greatly.