Gerry’s big decision

I watched C4’s Gerry’s Big Decision last week and was hooked – for the uninitiated Sir Gerry Robinson takes a detailed look at failing businesses around the country with a view to potentially investing his own money and helping the business to survive and thrive. The two businesses Gerry looked at last week were an old family furniture business in Lancashire that was on its knees and a small pie making business in the south west. The interesting thing for me was that both businesses were suffering the same issue – NOT ENOUGH SALES. The furniture business had issues with poor communication and relationship between the owner and the Managing Director, and I observed a lack of sales focus generally – for example there was no incentive in place for the sales people to grow/develop the business.

Both businesses appeared to have good products which were saleable, yet as we all know nothing will happen until a sale is made. I don’t believe for a minute that this is in any way unique, and indeed why there is a need to ensure that you have an effective (and integrated) sales and marketing plan that covers the basics such as

  • Having the right sales people in the team representing you
  • An effective customer segmentation map
  • A clear customer contact strategy
  • A clear “value proposition” for the product – a good example of this was the furniture manufacturer was not crisp about the product guarantees which could be deal maker/breakers

Finally the only sales people we saw was the one representing the pie manufacturer, who to be blunt was a square peg in a round hole and had very little idea what his approach should be and who his customers would be and I guess sales in general. His approach was at best parochial and he was not considering where the product could be sold. As Donald Trump says – “If you’re going to be thinking, you may as well think big.”

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