Blog: Resilience in Sales

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up” – Babe Ruth

Many owners of successful small businesses, if asked, admit that among their aspirations for the future, building their business to become a larger concern would feature prominently. However, many also find that they have become victims of their own success; looking after their current levels of business takes up all their time, leaving little or nothing available for increasing current revenue streams, or developing new ones.

In larger businesses, it is usually sales and marketing department who are tasked with increasing revenues. However, within smaller SMEs, these teams are often non-existent or might be one-person to do everything. Therefore, it’s critical that any sales (and indeed marketing) activity is consistent and active. Continually stopping and starting (often to undertake other activities) leads to a disjointed sales/marketing process, usually with far fewer results.

Resilience in Sales

Many business owners report that a common source of frustration among their sales force is the elusive decision makers who won’t take their call or the new market that they can’t seem to get any traction with. A well-known statistic often banded around in sales-y circles is that 90% of sales people give up before the 5th contact with a prospect, whereas 80% of all sales are made on the 5th or further contact. This perpetuates the perception that success will eventually come from doggedly persisting with the same activities and contacts, but how realistic is this in practice? With all the demands of a busy operation, it’s all too easy to prioritise clients who are actively engaged in business dialogue, and push those who are a little trickier to manage to the bottom of the to-do list.

So, what does “Never giving up” really mean? David Williams, Manging Director of Purple Patch Marketing Consultants Ltd advises that the first mistake many salesforces make is to expect to see results immediately. “When looking to increase company size, either by doing more of their core business or building complementary revenue streams, businesses need to bear in mind that, unless you are very lucky and hit the market at exactly the right moment, it takes time to build and develop a robust sales pipeline.” he says. “Both sales calls and marketing campaigns are rarely successful on the first contact. My definition of resilience in the sales process really begins with the knowledge and acceptance that you’re playing a long game.”

Just as with advertising, sales rarely happen as a result of the first interaction. “It has to be recognised that whatever the product or service, sales are made through forming a relationship” notes David. “Therefore, it must be recognised that time has to be invested in getting to the point of purchase”. Luck does play a part in sales, and being in the right place, at the right time and with the right product does happen. “But you have to be in it to win it as they say, and being in that position only comes through sustaining your sales and marketing activities.”

Ideally, businesses would employ a professional whose activities are solely focused on the company’s growth. However, in practice this is not always a financially viable option. “Often,” says David, “smaller businesses are operating on a tight budget. Whilst it’s desirable to hire a full-time sales and marketing professional, the longer timeframes involved in seeing return on investment often mean it’s lessviable, and this is where consultants such as Purple Patch come in.” Utilising an external consultant enables the people within the business to focus on their day-to-day roles; meaning that the sales activity stays focused too. “Ultimately, this means that and active sales function can be sustained, which means resilience comes through; and the successes start to shine.”

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