the Biggest Problem Holding Back Small Business Sales Teams

What is the Biggest Problem Holding Back Small Business Sales Teams?

Our clients are usually classified as “Small Business” – though I absolutely DESPISE that term.

The US economy is POWERED by Small Business! In fact, as of the 2010 census, Small Businesses make up to 99.7% of Employer Firms in this country (a “Small Business” is defined as having less than 500 employees).

Yeah – Small Business isn’t so tiny!

Back to my point – most of our clients at The Selling Agency have annual revenues between $20M and $120M with sales teams between 6 and 40 sellers.

I share these stats with you because there is a common theme among ALL of my clients and nearly every small business sales program I’ve ever reviewed:

Most Small Business Sales Teams Lack Strategy, Direction, and Support.

Fundamentally, this is because in most scenarios there is very little – if any – sales program infrastructure. With small sales teams, contract sellers, or sellers that wear multiple hats or have different titles that include revenue generating responsibilities, there is often no direct Sales Supervisor whose primary responsibility is to manage and lead the revenue generation efforts.

SMBs run lean and owner/operators are usually the main managers of sales teams and though revenue generation is critical, HOW revenue is achieved, or not, is usually not their singular focus. Pulled in dozens of directions, struggling with competing priorities, and even lack of sales proficiency are reasons why most Small Business sales teams are really struggling.

Not having a dedicated Sales Leader shows – in slow revenue, stagnant growth, and/or shrinking margins.

In your sales program, here’s what this looks like . . .

  • Sales reps struggle with knowing where and how to spend their time
  • Sellers are missing a roadmap to achieve their goals
  • Unproductive sales reps fly under the radar and stay much longer in the organization
  • Reps flounder without skills development and coaching
  • Sellers will resort to “easy” deals and “path of least resistance” which is usually less profitable business
  • Forecasting is difficult or impossible because pipelines are muddied or inaccurate


Do any of those scenarios ring true for you or your business?

If they do, then you’re missing opportunities to grow revenue and scale your sales program.

Sales Directors Lead the sales program by driving revenue through Strategy, Structure, People, and Processes.

Business Owners and Operators are certainly driven by revenue results but there are dozens of other functions that compete for attention on a daily basis. The sole purpose of a Sales Director or Sales Manager is about the “HOW” of getting to sales results:

  • How do we go to market?
  • How do we decide who will sell our offerings?
  • How do we determine what tools our reps need?
  • How do we train, coach, and support our reps?
  • How do we track progress?
  • How do we measure success?

In your sales program, here’s what this would look like. Sales Directors are . . .

  • Collaborating with marketing and organizational leadership on the go-to-market strategy
  • Determining the training needed to implement the sales process that carries out the strategy
  • Tracking activity, progress, and results of sales efforts on a weekly basis
  • Determining lead generation tools and sales software to improve efficiencies
  • Pivoting strategy in competitive environments
  • Interviewing and hiring new sales reps
  • Onboarding and ramping up new sales reps
  • Developing sales reps skills through coaching
  • Guiding reps through tough deals or difficult customer scenarios

Running a lean organization is paramount to profits whether you’re a Start-Up or a Fortune 500 Enterprise Company. In our assessments, most SMBs don’t have this layer of Sales Leadership because they believe they can manage the sales team, or the sales team doesn’t need any management – they should just sell, right? OR, they believe they can’t afford to hire someone who wears this one (critical) hat – as opposed to the usual 3 or 4 that most administrative team members wear in a small business.

What is this costing you?

Should you hire a Sales Director?

What would the payoff be if your sales team had a rock-solid strategy, were coached to improve their skills, and held accountable for their efforts?

A great Sales Leader hire could be a big return on investment that allows you to scale and grow.

Start crunching the numbers and see what you could be missing!

Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!


PS – Need help to figure out what this is costing you or how you can add Sales Leadership to your organization? Contact us and we’ll talk through the possibilities!

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Straightforward, practical and perhaps slightly cheeky, Shawn Karol Sandy's innate gift is helping people find new ways to solve old problems, unique ways to approach new problems and helping businesses re-invent themselves and their sales strategies. With Bold and Brave thought leadership and Clear Action Plans, her impact on business is Measurable and Meaningful and will lead your sales revolution to growth and revenue goals.

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