Are you misdiagnosing the reason for softer sales in 2018? You want the explanation to be related to sales performance. If it is, then the solution is straightforward: hire more/better salespeople. If the reason for lower sales is structural, then hiring additional salespeople is not only a waste, it’s also harmful to your business. Here’s the case for why slowing sales is structural, and what the prescription should be.
Whoever said April is the cruellest month, was never is sales. If they were, then they’d know that’s December. As many companies look to spend their remaining budgets before year end, your sales team has been busy teeing up their sales all year. By now, you probably know if those sales are real or not. If they are not, and the salesperson is well under quota, you know you need to make a change. But not in December, that's Christmastime. December is cruel.
But, all indications show 2018 should have been great.
- The economy grew by over 4%.
- Business investment in technology grew by over 7%.
How can sales decrease? The short answer is consumer behavior. People spend more, but they don’t spend the same way.
Regular readers of my blog know I often use Amazon as an example of what is changing. Most of your customers are now adept at buying products from Amazon. Their personal experience is quickly spilling over into a business expectation. If they can buy a TV from Amazon, why can’t they buy a toner cartridge from you?
Amazon has grown to be one of the top 3 largest companies in the world by continuously adding categories, (remember when you could only buy books?) and improving the customer experience (CX). Amazon has pioneered the change in CX. What people buy and how they buy it, has changed.
This gets back to the premise of this blog. A new salesperson or more salespeople will not change the CX. Salespeople are expensive, and new ones are massive investments. If I am right, the main reason you are not growing is that your CX is outdated. Fixing that problem is actually a lot less expensive than changing out or adding salespeople. An investment in technology, like digital workflow and e-commerce, benefits all customers and salespeople, whereas a new rep might incrementally increase sales—if they are successful. If you hire today, it will likely be months before you know if they are worthwhile investments. The ROI of e-commerce and digital automation is well established.
Had you invested $1,000 in Amazon 10 years ago, it would be worth $20,000 today. It may be too late to invest in Amazon and get a return like that, but what if you invested instead in your own business. If you want your company's value to increase, invest in yourself. Invest in sales automation not more salespeople in 2019.