Like Pushing Molasses Uphill
The good news is nearly every firm is in the same boat. The not-so-good news is that the rising tide is but a distant memory. This year, we’re hearing lots of complaints and frustration about sales and revenue. It may be helpful to frame what your firm is experiencing in terms of the experiences of other financial services companies. Let’s take a look at the top complaints we’re hearing, and then look at what The Collaborative sees as the real root causes of these issues. By resolving a root cause or two, your business may be able to get to revenue faster and more easily — in 2011 and beyond.
Top 10 Sales Complaints from 2010:
- It’s the salespeople. We need to get new ones.
- It’s the wholesalers or intermediaries. They just don’t know how to sell in this market.
- It’s our materials and advertising. We should hire a new agency.
- It’s focus. What are we doing in that segment of the market?
- It’s the prospects’ fault. They just won’t make a decision and they don’t understand the product.
- It’s our brand. Let’s change the name of the firm and rationalize the product line. Again.
- It’s customer service. Let’s get rid of the bad personnel.
- It’s our distribution model. We centralized when we should have de-centralized.
- It’s timing. We just happened to have launched new products/services in a recession.
- It’s about lead generation. We just don’t have enough people to call on.
Despite the apparent logic of these complaints, what we have found over time and by working successfully with many different firms, is that these complaints are the symptoms exhibited by a firm in need of a sales cure. Eliminating one or more of the symptoms will make a firm feel and perhaps function better for a while, but sooner or later there will be a relapse. The revenue stream can only be restored to perfect health by tackling the real root cause of the problem – the disease, if you will. So what are these root causes of these symptoms?
Top 10 Root Causes:
- Ill-defined market and offerings
- Me-too products and services
- No answer to the so what question
- No clear definition of the firm and offerings’ key differentiators
- Poor sales process and sales model
- Lack of sales infrastructure and customer service processes
- Materials that do not support and map to the sales process
- Demos and product literature that tell, not sell
- Inadequate qualifying of prospects
- Sales compensation plans that are not tied to business goals
Far and away, the most pressing root cause of below-goal revenue growth is number one on the root cause list – ill defined market and offerings. This issue can cause nearly every symptom on the list, and resolving it quickly and effectively can give a much needed boost to revenue.
To identify whether or not your company has this problem, answer these questions in the context of your firm’s current approach to business.
Q: Does your company develop and refine products based on market need or internal capability? Developing products around how your clients invest and manage their lives and workflows is the only approach that is compelling to people and has staying power.
Q: Is your sales department structured around the markets you cover – or around your internal organization? To be successful, organize your people around the people they are selling to. Arm them with the tools they need to move prospects through each stage of the sales cycle.
Q: Can your management team (individually and together) define your ideal client, your sales approach, and your success stories? Do the definitions vary widely? The people responsible for driving the train had better all be on the same track. If you’re not, do what you need to get there.
Q: Do your salespeople all tell the same core firm and product story? If they’re confused, imagine how the prospects feel.
The really good news here is that there are many practical things your firm can do to cure the number one cause of revenue dysfunction. Top of your list? Call The Collaborative.