“We’re working so hard but nothing we do seems to get the business moving forwards. Our sales team are really busy, but we’re not making any money. What are we doing wrong?”
‘We’ve always done it like that’. This is something I hear time and time again when I ask businesses why they do what they do in a certain way. They think they have a process in place to handle that area of business operations, but it’s not really working, because it hasn’t been properly thought through.
Every business needs good internal systems or processes to guide workflows and ensure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to sales, customer management, investing in staff, recruitment, financial management and the future of the business. But it is surprising how many businesses don’t have any at all or – if they do – they are not well-thought-out, documented appropriately or followed consistently.
It is important to have a proper sales process so that your sales people are selling and your delivery team delivering.
It is also important to have a proper sales process – one that provides a clear handover from sales to delivery, so that your sales people are selling and your delivery team delivering, and so that you don’t experience slumps in sales activity while you’re busy delivering or fail to deliver while you’re busy trying to sell.
Often, businesses fail to use any kind of customer relationship management process to guide this sales activity. Without knowing where the prospect you’re talking to sits in the sales cycle, you will end up investing too much time in reacting to inbound calls and miss potential customers.
To accompany these two processes, companies need a business plan and a sales budget which are reviewed and updated annually to help keep the business on track against its communicated goal or vision. There is a process to budget approval which starts with time for budget discussions at least two months before the beginning of the financial year.
With a few simple changes within their business they might find they actually have everything they need to unlock the growth already at their disposal.
Without these simple finance-based processes in place, businesses often find themselves struggling to grow, no matter what they do. The owner-manager becomes tired and fed up because the business is flat-lining and they don’t know what to do. They might be feeling like they’re facing some sort of financial stress and thinking about taking on external investment because they’re either running out of cash or they think they need to borrow more cash in order to grow. But the reality is that, with a few simple changes within their business they might find they actually have everything they need to unlock that growth already at their disposal.
Another area in which businesses often fail to put in place proper systems and processes is when it comes to their employees.
Many don’t understand the need to have a process that invests in their people and that they have their own skills audit. They don’t appreciate the importance of learning and growth, so HR just takes holiday and sick pay, but doesn’t actually seek to educate and up-skill employees. It is often said that a business does as well as the quality of the people it employs. If you’re not investing in improving that quality, you will end up with a second-rate business.
It is often said that a business does as well as the quality of the people it employs. If you’re not investing in improving that quality, you will end up with a second-rate business.
The same goes for the recruitment process. Without a methodology and clear sight-line on how to recruit the best talent in the most effective way, businesses can panic and end up taking on the wrong person just because they need someone and they think: ‘They will do’. They then end up investing lots of time in training that individual, in mentoring them, in worrying about them all the time, instead of getting on with the job.
There is no shortage of good talent – it is how you find it. The most successful businesses have a recruitment process that aims to recruit the very best people possible and on-board them quickly and efficiently. They also deliberately seek to fail early – if necessary – so that mistakes can be rectified quickly and moved on from.
With thanks to Jerry Sandys