Why Most Promo Businesses Fail to Hit Sales Targets
In our current series on sales planning, we shared 3 Trends That Will Supercharge Your Sales, How to Unpack Your Sales Potential, plus a webinar, How to Set Epic Sales Goals, which included an interview with our friend and excellent sales coach Brett Boake of Score Promotions (a company that has achieved incredible sales growth over the past few years). Today, we’re sharing what leaders miss when creating solid sales goals that hit the target.
“What drives sales outperformers?”
That’s the question McKinsey & Co. asked over 2,500 B2B companies. McKinsey wanted to know what differentiates those who outperform the market versus those who stay stuck in no-growth (or slow-growth) mode.
They discovered four key traits all outperformers share: insights, agility, talent and tech (hang with me, a few of these are hyper-relevant to our industry):
Agility: Speed in customer responsiveness and cross-functional teaming
Talent: Commitment to building robust teams with 75% more coaching/training than slow growers
Tech: The right systems, tools, and processes to make it work, seamlessly
Insights: Embracing analytics and data to make rapid, proactive decisions through the customer journey
Any underinvestment in these four traits means the difference between no-growth or outperforming growth.
How do these traits impact sales planning?
Planning isn’t wishing. It’s setting targets and crafting a plan to hit those targets, but moreover, it’s a mental exercise for leaders to discover what’s missing in their capabilities or strengths that will fuel them to hit their goals.
In our recent webinar on setting sales goals, we shared how leaders often set unrealistic expectations for growth from the top down. The motive comes from a good place (“we have the best team, the market is growing, etc.”), but it’s usually steeped in 90% optimism and 10% guesswork.
Effective sales organizations start by projecting possibilities from existing client growth first (which is where our most robust growth occurs), followed by new business goals, and then, rolling up each salesperson's (or business unit’s) goals into the overall company goals (again, see webinar for reference).
What leaders discover through this exercise is that, often, there’s a gap between what we project is possible and what we envision for epic growth. For example, you may build your goals from the bottom up and realize that you estimate an approximate 15% growth in overall sales. But you might also feel that a 15% growth is too weak, and you (rightfully so) want to aim for 25% growth as a stretch goal.
Simply stating that “our stretch goal is 10% higher” and pushing the team to perform is a recipe for disaster. Instead of creating fuel for your team, you unintentionally create friction.
First, a leader must find their blind-spot: What’s missing that will enable our team to achieve hyper-growth?
We’ve already calculated the probability, but is there something missing in our organization that could make a fundamental difference between marginal growth and epic growth?
McKinsey’s study helps because if most hypergrowth companies can cite the four areas that propelled their growth, we need to ask, “which of those four traits are we missing that will help our team grow beyond what’s probable”?
Where's Your Growth Gap?
Do you need to invest in ops efficiencies to create powerful cross-functional teams to become more agile and produce sales more efficiently? One trait McKinsey uncovered was both investment and adoption, “the combination of [investing in] smart tools and strong adoption,” translates to higher sales.
Do you need to invest more in coaching and training for 2022? In our interview with Brett Boake of Score Promotions, they’ve spent a considerable amount of time and energy shifting their focus to better coaching. McKinsey writes, “Companies where sales managers always tailor learning programs based on observed strengths are 1.3x more likely to be outperformers.”
Most promo businesses fail to hit their targets not because of a lack of ambition or enthusiasm, but because we have blind spots that prevent us from realizing our potential. For example, the promo industry grossly underinvests in technology and training. We think that if we simply throw more people at a problem, we’ll solve our sales issues, but hiring people is a partial solution: equipping those people to onboard quicker, train faster, work better together and adopt smarter is about tech and training, not merely recruitment.
For leaders, setting sales goals is not pointing at some arbitrary mountain peak in the far distance (“We will grow from $5 million to $10 million in 2022!”) but rather, determining projections based on possibilities and then calculating and investing in what your team needs to reach the summit.
Mount Everest attracts the most ambitious climbers in the world. In 2018, weather conditions on Everest were so perfect that the mountain hosted more climbers in one day than it had in its history. But there was a problem. As many climbers passed the peak’s “death zone” (above 26,000 feet) over 20 oxygen tanks failed, triggering one of the worst climbing disasters the mountain had witnessed.
The goal was clear. The conditions were ripe. The climbers were psyched. They had the initiative, the fuel and the heart to reach the summit. But what could have been the most celebrated experience of their life was met with disaster due to equipment failure.
2022 is in our sights, the optimism in our industry and within your team is high. The only question remains:
Where do you need to invest in 2022 to help your team reach the summit?
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