Developing a sales culture is key to brand building – part 1

In any economy, for most companies, one core effort of building a profitable brand is to develop an effective sales culture within the organization. And at the heart of this culture is a well trained sales force and clearly defined sales systems.

These systems help generate higher close rates. They also help the well trained sales force develop stronger customer relationships that lead to better returns on marketing investments through repeat purchases and the development of brand ambassadors.

Developing a sales culture requires investments in recruitment and training, lead management systems, sales processes and improved compensation for sales people. As Malaysian firms, GLC’s and other institutions struggle to find talent, systems and strategies that will allow them to compete and stay profitable, integrating a sales system into daily business practice is becoming mission critical. But few firms seem to grasp the importance of creating a great sales organization, and few Malaysian firms have become effective at sales.

Recently, we carried out a sales skills and sales process analysis for a public listed company in the property sector. We noted that the sales manager began his career at the company as a sales executive 16 years previously and was promoted simply because he outlasted everyone else in the sales department.

He didn’t know how to manage sales people. He didn’t know anything about territory or lead management and was inept when it came to motivating disillusioned sales people. He didn’t even know how to sell because all he had ever done was take orders. Yet he was responsible for recruitment and developing the training program for new recruits as well as ongoing sales training!

Another issue we identified at the same company but this also applies to many other corporations from many sectors, not just the property sector is what we call the ‘warm body syndrome’.

Because the property sector works around projects, if a project finishes and people leave, then quite often they are not replaced. The idea is of course to save money. But if the next project comes on stream when all the quality sales staff have already been employed elsewhere, the organisation can only recruit from the bottom of the barrel. The company then ends up with low quality sales people who are quite often ‘trained’ by the sales manager who is a sales manager in name only.

So the company ends up recruiting the wrong people who are then trained the wrong way. Companies got away with it in the past because as Malaysia evolved, there was limited competition and demand outstripped supply.

But the Malaysian economy is moving into unknown waters. Competition, from both local and international organizations is at an all time high.

What is required to succeed in these unchartered waters, is a great sales organization with the people, systems, processes, training and incentives to build sales and develop long term relationships with customers.

The results will be a profitable brand, able to compete locally and on the global playing field.

Part 2 of this story will follow next week.

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