Planning and monitoring. Here is the key to getting the commercial actions of the companies to be converted into sales and transferred to the economic results account. However, something that seems so obvious, is not so in reality.
And not only because of the 360-degree turn given in commercial activity by the pandemic in which people went from taking the car and holding face-to-face meetings in companies to keeping them online in the best of cases, given the difficulty of being able to enter the offices and headquarters. With the return to a more normalized situation, it is observed that there have been some changes in the commercial departments, but still Some mistakes continue to be made that hamper efficiency. A situation that occurs despite the importance that companies give to their sales area, even in times of crisis, since 30.8% of jobs in the business fabric are commercial.
However, this weight does not imply that companies have highly professional departments, which is partly related to the lack of specialized profiles and of vocation and interest in this profession among the youngest. Also, just 32.9% of commercial directors use tools such as BI(Business Intelligence) or AI (artificial intelligence) to support your strategic decisions, even in the pandemic environment in which digitization has accelerated. still 30.6% of managers use only Excel as technological support to make decisions, while 20.5% use CRM statistics.
And there is even more because the 51.7% of sales teams do not adapt the sales message to the personality of each client. At most, they tend to have adaptations by sectors or groups, which makes it difficult to close meetings, interest the potential buyer or user of the services and close the proposals presented.
The lack of organization It is more than evident: 47.1% of the commercial teams prioritize their activity based on external factors such as the urgency of the client, the route or the order of arrival, instead of attending to some objectives or internal plan, according to the data collected in the “Study on the organization and management of commercial departments in Spain”, carried out by Activa Ventas through an online questionnaire, later worked on in PowerBI, to 249 commercial directors of companies of different sizes and sectors.
In general, large companies tend to be better organized and get better results from their teams. Despite this, this is not the factor that most affects sales teams when determining the organization of their activity. The key point is how the commercial director carries out his work because “in many companies he acts as a salesperson and does not do leadership work,” says Alejandro Caldern, Director of Innovation at Activa Ventas, to the Economist. This is increased in SMEs in which the manager has to be in charge of the commercial area and many other functions, “carrying out activity, but poorly focused”, and establishing meetings with companies, among other actions, that are not target. It must also be taken into account that just over a third of the managers in this area define the specific actions to be carried out by the sales representatives, opting for them to carry out the tactic themselves.
Companies also “click” on the correlation between where they focus their business goals and how they set them. The companies focus their commercial efforts on attracting new clients -it is a high priority for 69.2%-, as well as on keeping clients (68.8%). However, 46.4% of directors who state that maintaining their buyers is a high priority, does not study the recurrence of its clients to establish objectives. Furthermore, two-thirds of those surveyed do not have an objective estimate of the growth potential of each of their buyers. Likewise, 65.4% of managers who prioritize attracting new clients do not take into account the capacity of their team when setting objectives.
The trade tracking is another of the areas for improvement in companies. Only 40.2% do it weekly and 46.6% do it monthly. “Not doing a follow-up or that it is more extensive, like the annual one, makes it impossible to take measures to ensure the objectives and limits the margin of action on the unforeseen events that may appear”.
Differentiation by size and sector
The services and banking sector is the one with the least internal dedication to marketing, while food and beverages is the one with the most team in this field. In addition, this last area of activity is also -along with industry, the automotive industry and distribution-, the one that uses external salespeople the most, which practically disappear in logistics.
Food and beverage prioritizes internationalization, while services and banking focus on attracting new customers, as do technology companies. For its part, in logistics and transportation there is an interest in maintaining the portfolio of buyers or users of services, but the focus on being able to grow with them is diluted.
As for the smaller companies, it stands out that, for the most part, they do not know the growth margin of their clients, while the large ones have the capacity to estimate it. Construction and energy are the sectors in which the growth potential of its clients is best known, unlike what happens in IT companies.
In relation to billing, companies with a turnover of more than 50 million euros do not work according to customer demand, but meet the activity objectives set in their plan. The health and transportation areas are the ones that most depend on the urgency of the client. In addition, in industry and the automotive industry, it is more common to find that companies have a single message for customers. On the opposite side, there is energy and construction that tend to personalize it.
And what happens in technology? The largest companies use the most advanced-use BI in 59% and AI in 15.4%-, while Excel is the most used in food and beverages with 69.2%.
The keys to sell
Although there are no “magic wands”, there are some keys that every company can put into practice to boost sales and achieve good results depending on the objective that has been set. And that, precisely, is the first step: define it very well because, in practice, this is where the first problem appears. “People say they have a plan, but what they have is a billing goal. The business plan is not determining whether to reach a billing” of a specific amount.
It is necessary set team actions, divide the responsibilities of each one and “measure the load of the commercials and their capacity not to saturate or lower actions or even look for more” according to each case, explains Alejandro Caldern. “You don’t have to leave people to their own devices,” he says.
And all this should translate into a business plan in which the actions to be carried out by each commercial are set, who is in charge of each client and what must be done and with what frequency. To grow in current customers, it is recommended to know their growth potential, while to attract new ones, it is advisable to carry out a market study to find out whether or not there are enough potential buyers to achieve the objectives and assign areas to each person in charge.
The process also goes through “drawing out the list of target companies, budgeting and being clear about how many meetings or calls are made.” It is essential to know the ratios and “know what can be asked of the sales representatives and, above all, do a weekly or monthly follow-up”. From here, “more attention should be paid to planning and monitoring” in general.