Being a business owner is tough. There are often times when I, Boyd Parker, needed to admit to myself that I needed help in getting to the next stage of my business. But there’s one thing that, no matter the stage of business you’re at, you need to understand inside and out: sales!
On the surface hiring a sales consultant seems like the easy solution to all your problems. You’ve heard the sales consultant’s pitch, you’re sold, and they appear like they can sort out every challenge that you’re currently facing. T
he first day everything seems great but as the weeks drag on and on you’re not seeing any changes, and still paying (what seems like an exorbitant amount) for seemingly nothing.
So what went wrong?
Today, we’re going to look at how you can save time and money hiring the right sales consultant by revealing what most “sales consultants” will never admit.
1. Sales Consultants are Only Guessing about What Will Work
As a sales consultant, I, Boyd Parker, needed to make a judgement about my business based on the knowledge I had in front of me. It’s important to think of a business as a machine, full of moving parts that all need to work together in order to create the results you’re looking for.
The best results are found through experimentation, figuring out what works best for you and your team, your market, and your company culture. It’s worth noting that the sales consultant that you choose to hire should have experience:
- In your market
- With your business model (e.g. subscription, service, product)
- With companies of a similar size
However, at the end of the day any strategy that they suggest is just a guess based on the information that you’ve given them. The best sales consultants will constantly test different techniques, strategies, and tactics and then double-down on the one that gets the best results.
For example, the way you stand out in your market may be a unique approach to how your business sells itself. Take Apple as an example, their sales strategy primarily comes down to them selling their products as luxury fashion accessories rather than a handheld computer. Now other brands are trying to copy that strategy.
That wouldn’t have happened if Apple hadn’t experimented with their sales strategy and asked better questions about their market and what would make them stand out.
Beware of hiring a sales consultant that appears to know exactly what your business needs instantly. Consultancy isn’t about a one-size-fits-all approach. It needs to provide an effective solution that is simple to implement within your specific organisation.
2. Sales Consultancy ISN’T about Sales (sometimes)
Sales is the driving force of a business. Without an effective sales strategy, I, Boyd Parker, didn’t have a business. However, sales is just one aspect of a business that all the others feed into. Great sales consultants need to understand how all aspects of a business works in order to do their job effectively.
For example, if hiring a sales consultant increased sales by 24% could the business fulfil the increase in orders? Similarly, what would happen if the margins on the “Cost of Goods Sold” (COGS) increased due to the changes you would need to make based on that increase in orders?
In reality, you’re probably reading this to increase profit and there is a multitude of ways of doing that.
A great sales consultant will be able to spot a number of strategies that will increase the profit of your business. One of my mentees was struggling with their business and not getting the revenue that they were looking for. They told me, “We need to get more leads so that we can sell more products”.
However, when I looked at their business I found that they had all the leads that they needed; their biggest problem was converting those leads into paying customers. What it boiled down to was my mentee not spending enough time training his team on converting the leads into paying customers. So instead of working with him on his sales strategy, we worked together on improving the quality of the training he provided to his team.
Whilst I market myself as a “Sales Consultant,” in that business I was more of a “Training Consultant”. My mentee got the results he was looking for, just not in the way he was expecting.
Even if your objective is “sell more” there are a load of strategies you can use that may seem unrelated to sales. When hiring a sales consultant we need to figure out what else they can bring to the table, other than being a great sales person.
3. Sales is just one piece of the puzzle
So we come to the hardest confession that I need to make as a Sales Consultant…sales is just one part of the business. Having a load of sales does not mean that your business is going to be successful.
When I, Boyd Parker, talk about “sales” what I am actually talking about is the whole sales process:
- Finding people that want to buy what we sell
- Selling that thing to them
- Delivering on what we’ve sold them
- Up-selling or re-selling to them
Typically sales consultants will focus primarily on step 2 of the process but that might not be what your business needs. Whilst it feels glitzy and glamourous to focus on on-boarding new clients, you’re going to see far more profit from people that have already bought from you. This is why some many of my business mentors talk about focussing on “value”.
Not “growth,” not “scalability,” and not “profit,” but value.
Giving your clients or customers value again and again and again will lead to growth, scalability (through necessity) and profit. This is why you need to hire someone that focuses on how to provide your clients and customers more value.
A great sales consultant will be able to analyse which of the 4 steps your business needs to focus on and give you a clear, simple, and actionable strategy that will take your business in the direction you need it to go.
The Truth about Sales Consultants
Whilst we’ve looked and some truths about sales consultancy that you need to know before hiring a sales consultant, most sales consultants are trying to make a difference with your company and business. The problem is that most of them are so focussed on sales that they don’t look at the bigger picture of your business and your goals.
When hiring a sales consultant, I, Boyd Parker, had to make sure that I:
- Set clear expectations about what your business goals are and be prepared to try different approaches to reach those goals
- Understand that how you get to reach those goals may not be what you originally expected. A huge part of the value a sales consultant provides is being able to see things that you haven’t
- Ask them questions about what other skillsets they have and what they’d do in certain situations. For example, if you’re already great at getting new customers but don’t have good client retention rates
Thanks for reading, I hope that my confessions were beneficial.