By stopping to pursue the an unsuccessful sales strategy one can create new sales growth. A a for-profit company should quit its sales strategy when it either generates a loss, reaches merely the break-even point, or generates just a low amount of profit. I worked as the Marketing and Sales Manager of ThinkTwice – a student company that took part in the Dutch Jong Ondernemen Project – I had to fulfill many tasks within the marketing and sales department and among others I had to take care of the management and organization of the sales strategy. When I was confronted with a loss I stopped to pursue the sales strategy which followed a business to business approach and started to pursue a business to consumer approach, suddenly ThinkTwice became more successful.
Quitting promotes growth and learning
As Peg Streep and Alan B. Bernstein, LCSW argue in their book Mastering the Art of Quitting: Why It Matters in Life, Love, and Work, quitting is a healthy, adaptive response when a goal can not be reached (Streep & Bernstein, 2014). Therefore, one should quit an unsuccessful sales strategy. Quitting promotes growth and learning, as well as the ability to frame new goals.
Conducting a 5C analysis
Another reason why a company should quit an unsuccessful sales strategy is when the product and service does not satisfy customer needs. There is no sense in pursuing a sales strategy when the products or services do not prove popular among consumers. A potential solution is a 5Cs Analysis, which can bring new insights on internal, macro-environmental and micro-environmental factors within the environment. The 5C analysis is considered to be the most useful and common way to analyze the market environment due to the extensive information it provides. Based on that, the product and service can be adjusted so that a new sales strategy can be pursued.
However, stopping to pursue the current sales strategy is difficult. One has to put its ego aside; one might feel vulnerable to admit a failure but it is a sign of courage and strength. Philosopher Baroness Onora O’Neill argues that making oneself vulnerable to others is a good evidence that one is trustworthy and can have confidence in what one is saying. In my case, the rest of ThinkTwice knew that my sales strategy was not successful. I showed vulnerability and admitted that my strategy would lead to a loss. The outcome was that the rest of ThinkTwice valued my honesty instead of judging me for a bad sales strategy. A leader has to be trustworthy to be respected. Onora O’Neill discusses that to be trustworthy one has be competent, reliable and honest (O’Neill, n.d.). Satisfying all three criteria should be the goal of any leader.
Communicating a change
However, stopping to pursue a current sales strategy is difficult when the change process seem to not able to be implemented. To overcome this obstacle, two points have to be communicated to the team: first, the benefit and second, the proof. On the one side, the company has to know what the benefit is once the change is made. That makes it possible to anticipate the positive outcome rather fearing a change process that might come along with uncomfortable situations. On the other side, there has to be a high certainty that the change process can be implemented. That certainty comes from a proper conducted marketing research or from a case study that proves the effectiveness of the change.
Planning sales strategies
Management should follow these four steps when planning new sales strategies: plan, perform, evaluate, and communicate. After the first evaluation, a business report should be prepared and communicated to management. Based on that, one includes adjustments and the cycle of the four steps starts again.
To conclude, quitting a sales strategy makes sense when it is not successful, because quitting is a healthy, adaptive response when a goal can not be reached. Quitting is necessary when the product or service does not satisfy customer needs. However, it can be difficult when leader’s ego is not put aside or the change process is not properly communicated.
Streep, P., & Bernstein, A. B. (2014). Mastering the art of quitting: why it matters in life, love, and work. Da Capo Press
O’Neill, O. (n.d.). What we don’t understand about trust. Retrieved April 01, 2014, from https://www.ted.com/talks/onora_o_neill_what_we_don_t_understand_about_trust?language=en