Diagnosing the Whys of Falling Short

Sales is one of those things that you really can’t understand from the perspective of a non-salesperson. Without being “in the trenches,” “pounding the pavement,” or “hitting the phones,” a manager can never really know why sales are falling short of their target. To cover for their own shortcoming, salespeople will sometimes attribute sales ruts on the product, price, or market saturation – and in many cases, they’re right. But how is a manager supposed to know how much of sales declines are attributable to mediocrity on the part of the sales force as opposed to any number of factors – the poor economic climate, for example?

One way to tell whether or not it’s the salespeople is to get into the trenches – to listen in on sales calls, go out for lunches, and even make pitches. But this is really only feasible if a manager is has solid sales experience and is capable of being truly objective about whether the burden of shortfalls lies with sales, marketing, production, pricing, or the economy more broadly.

Another way to get objective sales info that will glean insights into improving sales is to bring in outside help – hired guns who can show you your product’s true potential. If they don’t blow away your sales numbers, it will be obvious that salespeople are not to blame for any shortfalls.

While outsourcing sales has benefits beyond simply diagnosing why sales are slow – the subject of other posts on the Acquirent blog – bringing in outside salespeople rather than making changes in-house, makes it easier for the sales team to tell managers just what is wrong where with the product they’re trying to sell. Is required lead time too long? Are new prices or new competition making the product less competitive? Finger-pointing at companies internally is counterproductive and bad for business. But an outside sales force can make it obvious, through their expertise and their sales skills, just what needs to be done to make a product more competitive, and consulting services to this end are usually available from an outsourced sales solution provider.

If your most recent sales info is a little disheartening, don’t rush to blame the sales team, but don’t necessarily trust that it’s all the economy’s fault, either. Enlist the help of outside help to get an objective look at just how well your in-house team is doing, get insights into your product’s strengths and weaknesses, and lay the foundation for expansion into new and different markets by leveraging an outsourced sales strategy.

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