33% of the paint and wallpaper contractors that were in-business January 1st, 2007 no longer exist (Source: Bizminer SIC code 1721). This does not include those filing for bankruptcy protection or bleeding red ink. While the industry struggled during this 3-year period, overall it contracted from $24.3B to $24.1B – less than 1%, it was not the primary problem. Why then have so many failed, especially to the point of fatality? According to Dunn & Bradstreet, the industry is NOT the common denominator; rather lack of sales is the simple but deadly culprit. When we lose focus on generating sales, regardless of economic conditions, we put our business in harm’s way.
If your business is demonstrating symptoms of sales loss,
here are the 3 most common causes (according to over 80,000 B2B customers in a
massive study conducted by the HR Chally organization):
1st) When it comes to sales, senior leadership
tends to be too focused on the numbers rather than the capabilities of its sales force;
employer-sponsored training is not designed to deliver the right skills and
3rd) Most salespeople are not prepared when they enter the profession. Consider that 66% of college graduates enter the sales profession while less than 1% of the colleges offer a degree sales curriculum.
Evolution is derived from necessity. Either develop your ability to compete or face extinction. If you are still trying to generate leads, build client relationships and develop your skills the same way you did years ago, it’s a good time to reevaluate. There are competitors that are “hungry” and they are developing new and better capabilities to attract and retain YOUR current, long-term customers. Failure to adapt and change proactively renders you vulnerable.
How can you assess your vulnerability? If a 3rd-party consultant were to ask your top customers about the quality of their relationship with you, how would they respond? Do they view you as an expert, do they have outstanding communication with you, and the ultimate question . . . how much confidence do they have in you? This confidence questions marks the fulcrum of the vulnerability equation. People buy from people, specifically people they trust. Trust has two elements: integrity and competency. If your customers have more trust with you than your competitors your business will survive.
30,000 paint and wallpaper contractors failed over the past 3 years. Of the remaining survivors, they grew 13%. Considering that many did not grow but contracted instead, those that indeed increase sales did so mightily. This industry is projected to increase 4% per annum over the next 5 years. If you have a system for building and increasing your sales force capabilities YOU WILL THRIVE!