Addressing slow revenue growth

One of the more common issues in business today is how to improve top line revenue.

While this could be a function of the economy, more often than not it is a set of internal obstacles holding back progress.

Below, I have identified some reasons I have discovered why revenue is flat, declining or the growth trend is unacceptable for some of my clients; use this checklist to see where you might be able to improve the situation in your company.

-The target markets are shrinking or changing in ways the company has yet to realize. In some cases, the target markets may have simply disappeared.

-Sometimes, the niches the business serves cannot be articulated by either salespeople or by ownership. The competitive advantage may also be undefined.

-Price compression from competitors forces sales people to sell at lower prices resulting in reduced profit margins. This could also be a warning sign that salespeople do not know of any other way to sell except on price.

-Perhaps your company has salespeople who are resigned to rejecting any new sales techniques because “this is the way we have always done it.”

-Those same salespeople are usually desk bound. Sales management fails to understand that the best use of a sales person’s time is across the desk from a prospect or a client.

-The best salespeople usually have no problem finding employment so companies often settle for having salespeople who are not trained in selling.

-This is further manifested by the company failing to provide any time of ongoing sales training and education.

-Having unprofessional salespeople represent the company can damage the company for years. This is manifested in the way a salesperson dresses, acts, eats and speaks when representing the company.

-Nonperforming or under-performing salespeople usually suffer from a lack of prospects. This can be uncovered by asking a simple question: “Show me what your pipeline looks like.” A salesperson can’t be successful without a full pipeline of potential clients.

-To make matters worse, the company does not have a prospecting plan, preferring that salespeople invest their time to do this time-consuming work.

-Having internal meetings with salespeople during the time when they should be calling on prospects and clients is a waste of time.

This includes face-to-face meetings, telephone conference calls, sales training sessions and web conferencing. These are all internal meetings not external ones.

Brian Tracy a master sales trainer says all meetings and sales presentation creation should take place after 6 p.m. because the only time to have meeting with prospects and clients is during the business day. The best salespeople understand this concept and use it to their advantage.

-When it comes to goals, having hard numbers and desired results should be measurable with a time-bound setting, but in many companies what exists instead is referred to as “marshmallow goals”. This means the goals are soft.

It does not help when sales goals constantly change. A moving target is very difficult to hit and is demoralizing.

Having salespeople who are not committed to achieving their own goals, let alone the company’s will do nothing but spread poison in the organization.

-When sales support staff is too far removed from client interaction it means they do not understand the impact of their inaction or delay on revenue growth.

Two final issues to share that are often hidden from the view of ownership.

The first is when salespeople have to do other people’s jobs to make sure the client is taken care of. The second is the failure of sales management to listen to the valid concerns of salespeople.

It is the responsibility of leadership to eliminate the excuses of salespeople to sell and to address the legitimate obstacles that stand in the way of revenue growth.