Image by: Paul Inkles
By Alexa Hughes
The sales structure in your business is a complicated sum of parts, but a crucial one for keeping your business alive and thriving. The sales structure can encompass all policies, guidelines, procedures, and tools that you use to both make sales and to track sales. How your company is selling becomes extremely important when you’re trying to track what you’re selling. If your structure isn’t working for you to its full advantage, you should feel prepared to change the structure to change the habits and responses of your sales team as well.
“I have always said that everyone is in sales. Maybe you don’t hold the title of salesperson, but if the business you are in requires you to deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales.” -Zig Ziglar
#1) Identify Your Current Sales Structure
You certainly won’t be able to make changes if you don’t know what you’re working with now! It can be helpful to gather a team of employees from different areas in the business to hear their opinions on the matter, because so much of what becomes habitual in a business is unspoken and behind the scenes. Write down all of your questions ahead of time and then write down the answers that you collect so that you can really see the structure that is in place.
Look into routines, the communication between members of your sales team and the rest of the staff, any compensation program you have for sales, what sort of programs you use to keep track of sales. You should also consider what training you offer or require or whether it’s made a difference.
“Employers who violate rules of fairness are punished by reduced productivity, and merchants who follow unfair pricing policies can expect to lose sales.” -Daniel Kahneman
#2) Analyze Your Current Structure
Once you’ve taken a look to figure out what it is that you’re working with, you need to figure out if it’s working or not. Look at each category and consider if it impacts overall productivity positively, negatively, or not at all. For example if you have a commission program in place, is it actually encouraging your staff to make more sales or does it seem to always fall on the one person who just happens to work a little harder or is the best natural salesperson?
If your staff is expected to learn on the job, you might want to take a look and see if they are actually improving, or if it would make sense to have a separate training program in place before they actually hit the floor. (Or the phones, or through whatever form your sales are made.)
“If eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of all of your items, just carry those twenty percent.” –Henry A. Kissinger
#3) Make Revisions & Expect Measurable Improvements
If you want to make changes in your sales structure, you should know exactly how many more sales you would like to be making within a given amount of time. Then you will be forced to expect the changes from your staff and sales structure and will be likely to actually see changes than if you didn’t put out a quantifiable amount to hit.
Depending on your current structure of business it can be a little overwhelming when you find out that there are so many things that could be done differently. If that’s the case, try prioritizing with the most important and then reevaluating the next set once you take care of the first. You don’t want to get burned out by the sheer mass of changes that you could embrace.
“Everything that works in sales has been done already. Just keep track of the crap that you buy, or the awesome stuff that you buy, and decide what was the trigger, and then just sell to people like you. It’s really that easy – and that’s what I do.” –Tim Ferriss
#4) Prepare for Resistance & Slow Changes
If you’ve had practices in place for a long time, you might meet some resistance from your sales team when you present them with an entirely new way of doing things. Even the smallest changes to an employees schedule or something can throw them off and require a period of adjustment. This is also a good time to see who is really dedicated toward growing your business and who might not be.
Even once everyone is fully on board and accepting the changes that need to be made, sometimes you might not see results from those changes for a considerable amount of time. That’s okay, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you made the wrong choice, but it does mean that you should be paying close attention and tracking numbers more than normal to make sure that everything is moving in the right direction.
Have you implemented dramatic changes to your sales program or do you have intentions to? Let us know if any of these steps will be coming into play for you!