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StrategyApr 11, 2013

Three Ways to Grow your Sales…Without a Sales Force

Matt Allen

In our previous posting, we looked at different ways to understand the culture of a company’s sales team. However, some organizations do not have a formal sales team. But they still need to generate revenue, and in today’s post, we will take a look at how a company with no formal sales force can still grow their top-line sales.

All Skate!     

As a child, I would go to the skating rink with friends, family, classmates, etc. Most of the time, the skating was organized in groups. The skate rink announcer would call out the different parameters of that particular skate, and the associated groups would follow the associated rules. “Only girls this time!” “Hokey-pokey, everyone in the middle!” “Reverse skate! Everyone change directions!” Those were all fun, but the chaos ensued when the announcer would call out, “ALL SKATE! Everyone skate!” This was the cue for everyone, and I mean everyone, to get out on the skate rink as soon as possible. Pandemonium would ensue as the entire rink transformed into what an outside observer might assume was an earnest attempt to mimic a demolition derby. The skate rink would become a veritable supercollider of super-charged children, powered by candy, soft drinks, and the inexhaustible energy of youth.

All too often, this energetic chaos is unwittingly imitated in an organization that does not have a dedicated sales team. When the need to generate revenue combines with the lack of a formal sales organization, the selling effort can become disjointed and ineffective. It doesn’t have to be this way.

After all, choosing to not have a dedicated sales team is a valid strategy that can reap dividends. Smaller companies or service-oriented businesses often find it uneconomical or degradation in service quality to dedicate a team to full-time selling. Instead, these companies rely on everyone, or nearly everyone, in the organization to sell in some way. Companies that succeed with a non-dedicated model do three things well.

1.  Instill a revenue-generation mindset in every employee

Without a dedicated team, every decision made within a company needs to be seen through the lens of revenue generation. For project managers working to deliver a service-oriented project on time, even the most mundane day-to-day decisions can become opportunities to increase future revenue. In an example that most of us can relate to, think of when you take your car in for service. If the mechanic does a good job and treats you honestly, you are much more likely to return for your next service need. Current service performed well and with integrity leads to more opportunities to perform future service. It becomes a virtuous cycle. Moreover, those making the hiring decisions should view hiring through the lens of revenue generation. Will that new hire be able to deliver service, identify opportunities, or close deals?

2.  Ensure that all employees, regardless of role, develop deep knowledge of your company’s products or services

When the entire company sells, each employee needs to develop a thorough working knowledge of what it is that you do well and for whom it is that you want to do it. A great sales lead can come from anywhere—from a top executive meeting others at her level; to a procurement specialist whose vendor refers a good-fit client; to an administrative assistant who lives next door to someone who owns their own business and just so happens to have a need for what you sell.

To build the necessary knowledge base, though, all employees need to be trained well on their company’s core offerings. Classroom training, brown-bag lunches, computer-based-trainings, or required reading are all effective ways to disseminate this information. Communication is also a key component to building knowledge of where the company is at and why sales efforts are critically important. Company leaders must develop communication plans to share active or closed deals, new products or services being rolled out, or new and updated company practices with employees on a regular basis. Employees also need to be given the opportunity to regularly practice what they are learning. Mock elevator speeches, situational training, etc., are effective methods to provide such opportunities.

3.  Establish incentive mechanisms that track individual employees’ roles in selling efforts, and give them credit for it

Without a sales team that’s compensated on sales growth, a company must find a way to give credit for sales to those in non-selling job functions (everyone). In this case, direct commissions may not be the best way to go. One alternative method is to assign selling “credit” to individuals based on the role they played in the sales cycle—lead referral source, pitch subject matter expert, etc. It also helps to give some type of sales targets to all employees. These targets should be tailored for the employees’ roles in the organization, and whether employees meet or exceed their goals should factor into a final performance rating. This approach encourages employees to focus on generating revenue while recognizing the practical reality that all of their daily tasks cannot be solely focused on sales cycles.

Generating revenue without a dedicated sales team can be a viable strategy, but without thoughtful approaches to doing so, it can become disorganized, unfocused, and ineffective. If you’re looking for a partner to help design appropriate incentives, develop effective training, and establish a revenue-focused culture that will enable you to realize profit and skill growth of your employees, let us know. Credera can help you bring order to the “All Skate!” of company sales!