I’ve been thinking about the KISS principle. KISS is the acronym for ‘Keep it simple stupid’ and is attributed to Kelly Johnson who was the lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works in the 1960s. KISS referred to the design principle that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather complicated; simplicity should be a key goal and unnecessary complexity avoided.
In the original, there was no intention to imply stupidity on the part of the person, it referred to the way things break and the sophistication required to repair them. The comma that gives us a different meaning, was included later as the term moved away from design and into other areas.
If you have a complicated sales function, with complex customer personas and several departments working in different ways but trying to achieve a common goal, then it sounds like you might have unnecessary complexity and need to unravel it.
Getting back to basics is the best way to start. Take a long hard look at your sales function, don’t rely on reports from your managers, get in and really see what your staff are doing. Book some time with your top sales people, shadow their activity and encourage your managers to do the same. There’s no substitute for seeing it with your own eyes, but if you don’t have the time, or feel you’re too close to see your company objectively, get an external person in to do it for you.
When you’ve got a good feel for who is doing what, when and why, make a checklist to help you dig a little deeper. If you’re serious about increasing your sales, you need to do a comprehensive, complex review to get to a simple, consistent sustainable sales system.
A complex list showing you how to achieve the simple task of increasing your sales:
- Brush up your corporate vision and strategy and make sure all your sales staff are aware of it and working in a way consistent with achieving the objectives you’ve set
- Check that your sales team know your Value Proposition and can articulate it correctly
- Know your customers and your potential market
- Make sure you know all you need to know about your competitors and if they’re winning your business, find out how and why
- Check that your sales roles are defined and you have the right people in the right positions
- Take a look at how you hire new staff and that your onboarding is setting new starters up for success
- Training and development should be regular and positive to keep your sales staff up to date and at the top of their game
- Make sure your commission and bonus schemes are rewarding the behaviour you want
- Check that your sales culture is a positive environment that encourages collaboration and celebrates success
- Your all-important sales process. Ensure your sales and marketing plans are aligned, they must be tuned to the same objectives and recognise the value each contributes to the success of the company
- Ensure your sales staff work with a successful methodology. If you currently let them do their own thing, think again. You will achieve consistent sustainable results if you have a team who follows a proven, successful method. If you don’t have one, a good place to start is looking at your most successful sale, deconstruct it, learn from it and replicate it.
- Check that your sales team are building relationships with their customers and maximising their lifetime value. Don’t forget, it’s cheaper to sell to existing customers than find new ones
- Check your technology – staff need to be able to use it, trust it and benefit from it
- Make sure your documentation and marketing materials are consistent with what your sales people are saying and are absolutely up to date
- If your company doesn’t have a Sales Playbook, take a look at how it will benefit you
- Use forecasting, metrics and KPIs to show you exactly where you’ve come from, where you are now and what you need to do, to get where you want to go
- Check that your sales meetings are working. They should have an agenda, minutes for actions and follow up for items raised. Sales staff should see them as an opportunity for communication and learning
- If you don’t do performance management, consider introducing it. It’s a way to encourage the behaviour you want, know how your sales staff are performing and it’s their opportunity to give you feedback about the company. Good leadership is about listening to the troops as well as directing them
- Get your strategic plans up to date and get them properly aligned
- Check that all your departments are communicating with each other and ensure the sales team recognise and acknowledge the contribution all staff make to their sales
Keeping it simple? Nothing to it!