How many small businesses face this dilemma? When the work is piled high and the execution of commitments we’ve made to customers is demanding all of our time to meet the deadlines, focus on selling diminishes. Even with a dedicated sales team, salespeople can lose focus on marketing and sales when they are onboarding new customers or transitioning them to the operations team.
Yet, as that workload lessens and the work is being completed, panic arises that there is not a great deal of work in the pipeline. Salespeople hit the field full force and the newest wave builds. It is then that we must take a moment to look at both our sales machine and our systems and processes in the operations departments.
Any activity done consistently will yield better results. Sales efforts must continue, at least at minimum levels, at all times, to create consistent sales and to maintain company image to prospects and customers.
The challenges are often on the operations side when systems and processes for bringing on new customers or projects, dealing with exceptions and unexpected issues in executing, and consistently delivering a quality product or service, are not solid enough to handle spikes in workload. As a result, operations may pull in salespeople or the salesperson may hold off on selling due to a perceived capacity issue.
What to do?
Insist on consistent sales efforts. (Some salespeople will use busy times as an excuse not to sell – and that break in their sales activities will allow lack of confidence to creep in – and then they’ve got to get started all over again.) Measure key sales activities – it may be as simple as # calls = # appointment = # proposals = # sales. Have plans in place operationally to handle spikes in work without using your sales team to the point that it pulls them out of sales.
Build an operations team happy to serve customers. Seem obvious? Too many operations teams don’t have a passion for serving new customers which requires getting to know/understand new expectations, demands, and communication styles. Operations people stereotypically like routine and execute it well – and that’s a good thing! Build on that to teach and create the mentality of excitement not only about current customers, but about new opportunities and put in place the contingency plans to handle what the salespeople hope to sell – so we can all be excited about the growth.