Without a Sales Process Your Business is a Lottery
Vintage Mike Alexander doesn't sugar-coat the issue of companies without a sales process.
In a discussion with SLMA Board Member Michael Alexander of the Private Trustees Management Group, he said, "If you can’t describe your company’s sales process you don’t have a business you have a lottery!"
Alexander reminds us that companies should review the marketing and sales process to the same degree as they review and improve manufacturing. “Everyone does a high five,” he says, “When manufacturing improves its efficiency by a point or two and yet marketing and sales run fast and loose with few serious measurements in place.” The host is Jim Obermayer
Thoughts from Alexander:
I have two questions I always ask business owners who seek my advice:
- What business are in? This question is a lot more subtle and difficult to answer than you might think. But that’s a topic for another day.
- The second question is whether the owner has a business at all. OK, so what IS a business. It can be defined in many ways, but most fundamentally a business is being able to do the same thing, the same way over again, on time, on quality and on purpose. Anything else is just a random exercise in chance that is little better than a lottery. Hence, my formulation of the question is: Do you have a business or a lottery? You can win either way, but you can’t claim to have a business.
Let’s go back to the definition of a business and apply it to sales which is the topic of today’s interview. The essence of any real business is:
- A definable product or service that is produced and sold by
- A well-defined manufacturing or delivery process that can be measured in terms of
- Time, quality, price and profitability
- A process that can be repeated on demand
Process is the very essence of a business. You will note that I included “sold” in my definition of a business.
Sales and marketing is where the product is often defined and ultimately turned into money. It is the heart and soul, the beginning and the end, alpha and omega of the entire enterprise and for that reason must have a process that is just as demanding, just as precise and just as deliberate and disciplined as any other aspect of a business.
It is remarkable in my experience how little attention is paid to this problem. Many organizations spend a lot of time on brochures and market research. Other organizations spend a lot of time on compensation systems, constantly tweaking commissions and quotas. But it is a rare CEO or Senior VP who can actually pull down a document and a flow chart that shows exactly how sales are generated and individual sales and/or marketing performance is measured. They can usually do this in manufacturing, finance and logistics, but rarely in sales and marketing.
Why it Matters
"It is a rare CEO or Senior VP who can actually pull down a document and a flow chart that shows exactly how sales are generated and individual sales and/or marketing performance is measured. They can usually do this in manufacturing, finance and logistics, but rarely in sales and marketing."
Problem: It is a cultural problem. Manufacturing and service people approach the world differently than the engineers, finance or management people. That’s because they ARE different. Too often, however, these differences lead to hostility rather than understanding. As a result, these warring factions typically regard sales and marketing as BS artists who are a cost center rather than an opportunity center.
The sales and marketing people could help themselves
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OUR GUEST: MICHAEL T. ALEXANDER, J. D. Managing Principal
Michael is responsible for overall management of the firm as well as Client Relations. He brings to the firm a deep understanding of fiduciary law and practice as well as thirty-five years of legal, financial and business experience. He is a graduate of University of Southern California Law School and served in the United States Marine Corps. He resides in Pasadena and is involved in a wide range of professional, community and cultural activities. He is a member of the ESOP Association, the Center for Employee Ownership, Pasadena Breakfast Forum, the Twilight Club and a number of other community organizations.
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