To me, sales is about people, accountability, executing on time, discipline, protecting margins, and it’s about having a plan that evolves constantly. It’s no secret that everyone wants to increase sales, but most lack the focus and discipline to achieve their goals consistently.
The majority of business owners don’t seem to understand that there’s a difference between a marketing-strategy, which involves branding, identifying who they are, what role they can dominate in their marketplace, and how to execute a strategy that can be turned into revenue. It’s fundamental blocking and tackling, and it is primarily ignored.
I once had a client whose business was doing about $14 to $15 million dollars, distributing tractor-trailers. By the time I had met him, his sales had dropped to about $8 million, and he was desperate to figure out what was wrong with his business.
Throughout our consultation, I could not get him to clarify what differentiated his business and services from that of his competition. Though the quality of his product was high, he lacked an identity, a voice, and delivered nothing new, unique, innovative, or creative to his market.
In a sea of competition, he sank to the bottom, and in part because he refused to build a marketing strategy and brand identity, his margins have continued to get worse. Ten years later, he still languishes at about $8 or $9 million dollars a year because he’s refused to establish the brand and image of his business.
On the flip side, we worked with a manufacturer in the Northeast, who at the time was doing about $250 million a year, operated out of six locations, and was struggling with much the same issues as the tractor-trailer client had. By developing a clearly defined marketing strategy, not being afraid to change, they managed to nearly triple their revenue, with over $40 million in annual profit.
Where the tractor-trailer client continues to operate out of trauma, chasing their next sales, the manufacturer operates in confidence.
I get very leery when business owners tell me they don’t have a marketing strategy. You can’t just put numbers on a paper, and say “That’s my sales plan, my sales goal, and this is what I want to accomplish.” You have to be adaptable, forward thinking, and understand the footprint of your organization.