If your business has slowed or is not growing at the pace that you had predicted or budgeted for, maybe it is time to look at recreating the wheel, so to speak, and finding a new way.
I need for sales to move at a very fast pace, and if I am trying to do this with Fred Flintstone tires, then I will probably be going slowly. You need to learn quickly, make changes (sometimes drastic changes), move forward, then reassess. The process needs to be done in some instances in less than a day; in others, this will unfortunately take three to five months if a total overhaul is necessary.
I was having difficulties penetrating a particular market segment any further and was puzzled as to why. We had been successful advancing sales, then hit a wall. I learned that the deeper we grew into the market, the more complex it was. Vendors were giving lower pricing to certain suppliers, while not to others; back-side rebates and other incentives ran rampant.
We could have chosen to complain about the sorry state of the marketplace, or we could recreate how we attack the market. It may require some creativity on your part to get you back in the game and to show strong sales growth. The biggest thing is you have to do is to take action and do something! The problem will not fix itself, and more than likely you will lose additional chances for growth until you take decisive action.
Ideas cannot sit in a committee waiting for approval, and you cannot wait around trying to put together just the right pricing strategy. If this is happening to you, then you are probably not growing quick enough. The alarms should go off. The problem is that too many sales professionals are too slow to react and make changes, or they do not want to push people into uncomfortable places. Yes, change! Do not fall into this group.
You cannot wait, or your sales and success will suffer. I would rather make a move in different direct and fail than stay with the status quo. Why? Because if I tried something new and failed, at least I learned not only what didn’t work, but why it didn’t work, and hopefully my failed plan generated conversations so I can learn what my customers really need from me and our company.
You cannot get unstuck by staying the course. It is much better to keep pushing to determine what is needed. Your customers will appreciate your hustle and drive. It is good for your customers to understand that you are willing to change to win their business if necessary.
You might find that to hit that next level of growth, your margins might have to be lower to get more competitive, but don’t be fooled thinking that is the important factor, because it is not. The main reason customers choose and stay with suppliers is service and relationships.
You have to make sure your house is in order before achieving big growth. What I mean by that is: Do you have the support staff, delivery, and warehouse personnel ready to process the additional sales?
If you do not, then your sales growth will only be temporary. The service has to be better than your competitors’; if it is only equal to, then you’re stuck fighting the “who-has-the-lowest-price” game, which no one wins.
What can you provide that will separate you from others? What services or products set you apart? If you don’t know, neither will your customers. What’s worse is if you have superior products or services but do a horrible job showing your customers what you offer. You need to make the superior product stand apart.
Remember, if you can help solve a problem that a customer is barely even aware of, then you are going to get more market share with that customer.
You have to become a trusted adviser, but if you’re on the outside looking in, then you may have to recreate the wheel and start anew to penetrate the account.
I am an impatient person who believes that you can force or will sales growth, but having said that, I do recognize that we are in the relationship business and that is not established overnight. It takes time to gain a customer’s loyalty, but you can speed up the process with having a solid plan with step-by-step details on how you are going to accomplish your goals for growth, thus shortening this process.
Recreate the wheel or break it if you have to. Get unstuck, grow, or die!