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Determine the Effectiveness of Your Sales Efforts—25 Crucial Questions You Should be Asking (Part 1 of 6)

Are you having sleepless nights, tossing and turning, and crying for help to anyone that will listen because your sales targets are off? I hate to break the news to you but if you are whining, complaining, moaning and groaning, or tossing and turning at night because your sales are down then you are engaging in unproductive behavior. Exerting energy in this manner is not going to fix the issue that is keeping you up at night. If you are a sales leader, the responsibility to “win-the-day” is upon your shoulders. If your team is above, at, or even close to goal then congratulations as you are doing a great job! Realistic expectations are needed now more than ever. However, if your team is really struggling or you simply want your existing efforts to be more productive then simply doing more of what you are already doing is not going to change anything. You want to make sure that you have the right plan that will drive the right results moving forward. Things have changed in the marketplace, and the only way for you to meet these changes is to sometimes adapt to or develop a new strategy that ensures you will have success. I’m going to begin a series on the key questions you should be asking in order to help you define and implement the right strategy moving forward. These questions are geared at the major core components that drive your sales engine to success. However, in some cases you might find you need a new engine if you are truly being honest in your answer. Over the next several days we will be looking at the 6 core business components that drive your sales efforts. These are: Market Intelligence, Competition Analysis, Product and Services Analysis, Customer Buying Intelligence, Organizational Strategy Alignment, and Human Capital Development. Market Intelligence:

  1. What is currently happening in your marketplace? This question may seem obvious, but if you do not have a firm grasp on what is truly happening in your industry then your expectations may be out of alignment with reality. If your industry is down 60%, what can you do differently to keep your sales from being down this far. Industry averages can be deceiving because someone is probably at the top because of what they are doing and it might as well be you. You need to know what is truly happening if you are going to respond correctly to the challenges that lay ahead.
  2. What markets do you serve and what is the realistic health of these markets? This will help you better define the answer to the first question. The key here is that by knowing the health of your markets then you can make sure you are putting your focus in the right areas. You may find that a market that you are only doing 10% of business in is up by 35% compared to your top market that is down. This means your opportunities lie in this underserved market. You may find that there are new markets that you can break into that will minimize the downward slide of your top markets.
  3. What are the total sales for all products and services in your industry for the past three years? This will provide you with information on the trends of your industry as well as a baseline to determine how you stack up against specific revenue benchmarks.
  4. What is your market share? Knowing if you are increasing or decreasing will help you to determine key areas of opportunity. Once you know this information you can craft a plan that will steer you to your goals. Simply compare your sales totals from the last three years to that of your industry to gain insight into your market share.

Having a good understanding of the industry as well as the impact of the economic environment will not only enable you to assess your own performance, but will also provide a framework in which to evaluate the competition. In part 2 we will dive into analyzing the competitive environment and understanding where you are outpacing your competition and just as important, where they are winning the day.