Sales Remains The Biggest Challenge Going Into 2012

As part of our daily and weekly work we naturally meet with many businesses and potential clients to discuss their business concerns. Whilst a number of things inevitably come up we find that Sales – or the lack of them is the prime concern of 80% of the business heads we meet.

Typically within these businesses we find declining sales, flat sales or sales declining or flat combined with less Gross Margin from the sales made – a real nightmare trip. Without undertaking a full analysis of the business and in particular it's Sales offer we can't determine what the problem is but, generally it involves one or more of the following:

Stagnant or declining market....

This creates a distinct lack of orders and increases competition for those orders that do exist. The result of this is that the Sales skills of the supplier are truly tested for the first time in many instances and those suppliers who employ the classic 'order taker' are going to lose out – conversely those who employ or train up sales staff to become what we call true Sales Consultants will win more share and start to prosper at the expense of competition.

Price pressures/ dilution

In a tough market customers will start to put pressure on suppliers to reduce their selling price to prop up margins given tough market conditions. Whilst it is very sensible for any supplier to constantly review their efficiencies and economies to offer the most competitive price there will inevitably be limits and differences of opinion. It is here where the skilled Sales negotiator proves to be worth their weight in gold by putting together persuasive arguments that create win/ win situations without decimating profits. Negotiating skill is a technique that can be trained given the right raw material although, in our experience, 75% - 80% of SME's don't possess sales staff with these skills. Again, those who do will be increasing share profitably! Too many concede on price too easily precipitating the inevitable downward spiral.

De-motivated sales staff..

A common problem – lower sales = reduced sales bonuses and an unhappy team. Far too many salespeople have never been commercially trained or managed in a way that makes them understand that they are paid to deliver sales that, without them, would not occur – i.e. add value to the business even after their costs are absorbed. This isn't their fault in many instances but rather relates to the lack of good Sales Management. One thing is certain, if a client has a de-motivated sales person/ manager or team representing them it will reflect in selling situations and negatively affect the business – get Sales Management tools and techniques introduced to obtain real performance from the sales resource.


Recovery from this downturn will be slow and steady in our view. Markets will remain very tough for the foreseeable future so those businesses who do nothing in these circumstances will not stand still, they will go backwards and possibly out of existence. Too many of them 'knee jerk' into solutions like 'I'll get a new Representative from the industry' – 'I'll cut prices by 3%' – 'I'll increase incentives' which, in most cases treat the symptom not the cause. Those businesses with a sustainable sales and marketing proposition will win through and by introducing leading edge:


to the business together with effective measurement of output the 'corner can be turned'. Here's how Tinderbox helped a £4 million logistics business turn around their sales fortunes.....


  • Flat sales
  • Poor Gross Margin from new sales
  • Tough market – declining
  • Intense competition


  • Review the offer
  • Review the process, techniques and tools in use
  • Work with the sales personnel to assess
  • We determined the target market and customers
  • We developed an effective contact strategy
  • We developed a prospecting process for qualified leads and measured productivity
  • We created a pricing matrix clearly indicating the GP levels by pallet rate and introduced a robust quote check process with tight controls on negotiability ranges for the sales team
  • We created a sales presentation that was persuasive and that clearly communicated the Company strengths and how the customer benefits by working with them
  • We developed a prospecting process for qualified leads and measured productivity
  • We set specific, measurable, achievable and compatible targets with the sales team and agreed at the outset
  • We measured progress on a month by month basis and lead and motivated the team for a year


The business won £1 million in new sales over the twelve months The business enjoyed a 3% improvement in Gross Margin

Most importantly we have trained these skills into the business and have now left them with a stronger offer, a better team and a defined sales approach that they can follow for years to come even if sales personnel change

To arrange for a no obligation discussion with one of our expert team please contact us.

David Turner

Managing Director

© Tinderbox Limited 2011

Business Development



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