Sales Success – Tap hidden skills; do not fire the sales guy!

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Do not fire the sales guy

As President, Mike was comfortable with the forecast of $2 million revenue that year. As Advisor and part time marketing guy, I was skeptical.

After 2 months of seeing the same “forecast”, and having worked in many small businesses for 10 years, I felt like Yogi Berra, thinking “this is Déjà vu all over again”. With Steve as the only full time sales person, sales activity was distracted by numerous internal issues and sales progress was… well – it was not progressing.

Tap hidden skills – do not fire the sales guy

So we agreed to put more resources into sales, without hiring, which we could not afford. We drafted John who worked in production, was a good listener and skilled on the phone. My work in marketing programs could be delayed until we got more strength in sales. We set up a 4-person team with the President and me meeting with John and Steve every week. There was the usual “Deal review” for every opportunity in the company funnel. We re-assigned many of them to give John a territory for phone coverage, and Mike some accounts for phone and travel coverage. The goal was to get more sales progress, fast, which led to some re-thinking and a re-definition of “progress”.

Sales progress should be part of what a “sales process” delivers, and we found our definition emerged to focus on tracking “internal customer buy process” for key elements of a buy – with 4 keys:
1. Is there a pressing “need”? What is the need, in depth?
2. Do we have money for this? What is the ROI, versus other options?
3. Is the product offered a really good fit to solve the problem?
4. Is there a “plan” to implement? Does it tie in to pre-existing urgent dates for the buyer company?

So, we built a tracking grid for these key elements, in each of our opportunities, and deals were rated for progress by checking off these 4 keys to a deal. These keys also proved a good guide on what to do next in deal-level strategy. If a key was missing, we had to fix that – and fix it before asking for an order! We slowly increased our progress on the best opportunities, dropped some of the deals where we could not create progress, grew the overall size of the deal list, and grew the company’s sales momentum.

Mike went on to turn the company into a growing force in power semiconductors, eventually acquiring other businesses to create a $50 million/year global company.


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