How one company increased sales step by step
4 minutes read
Many entrepreneurs struggle with lacklustre sales growth. Often, the culprit is a failure to understand why customers buy from you and how to systematically attract the business you want.
Ali Mozaffari was one such entrepreneur. He was tired of getting beaten by the competition.
Mozaffari is Director of Iron Age Manufacturing, a Vancouver company that custom makes metal products such as gates, railings and staircases for homes and businesses. He’d seen the company grow gradually since its launch in 1997 but had become frustrated by the slow pace.
A turning point came about three years ago, when Mozaffari decided to take action to accomplish his long‑held goal of landing more contracts from large builders of homes and condo developments.
The company had a strong reputation in the residential segment, but landing those prized commercial builders would take a more professional and structured approach to sales.
A common sales challenge
Mozaffari and his team are still in the midst of refining their new strategy, but the work has already paid big dividends. The company has boosted revenue by roughly 80% over two years, while logging significant growth in the critical commercial market.
Many smaller businesses soldier along with informal sales processes, only to hit roadblocks when they try to expand—or simply survive tough economic times. “Many companies have difficulties understanding their value proposition,” Corey says.
A methodical approach
Iron Age started its drive to improve by pinpointing its ideal customer. That meant targeting mainly large commercial home and condominium builders. Realizing that sales reps can’t sell what they don’t fully understand, Iron Age’s management then went to work on defining the company’s value proposition and competitive advantage.
Next, Iron Age established concrete sales objectives, identified shortcomings in its sales process and prepared a list of priorities to tackle. Chief among these was fostering more cooperation across the entire team through improved communications. The company also developed key performance indicators to track results and prepare sales forecasts.
New offerings for a new clientele
Turning to the sales effort on the ground, Iron Age decided to increase its sales staff and also added more product designers.
Corey recommended that the company arm its sales reps with a tiered product menu, a move based on research into the needs of the commercial clientele. Iron Age also decided to offer a premium service option for commercial clients who required faster turnaround times. The company is currently upgrading its project management systems to accommodate this offering.
It’s implementing another IT system to automate quoting, tracking of materials and invoicing for commercial clients. This is important not only for meeting Iron Age’s operational and profitability goals, but also customer demands for fast, accurate quoting.
Building a stronger team
Iron Age also set out to boost the skills of its sales reps and project managers through tutorials. Finally, Mozaffari learned the process was not only about filling the sales pipeline, but also developing a formal system to help carry projects through to completion.
“With commercial clients, we needed to follow a more deliberate process to win the work, then maintain that process throughout the project.”
To that end, Iron Age has begun using cloud software to facilitate the sharing of customer information, project spreadsheets and design drawings.
Still work ahead
While the journey hasn’t been easy, Mozaffari says he finally has the tools to take Iron Age’s growth to the next level.
“Don’t expect miracles to happen. You improve step by step.”
4 tips for building a strong sales process
1. Stay close to your customers
Consult regularly with clients to understand their short‑ and long‑term needs. Then, deliver the products or services they’ll actually buy.
2. Involve your team
A large part of Iron Age Manufacturing’s success in adopting a more robust sales process has stemmed from involving the entire team in the effort.
3. Embrace technology
Iron Age learned early on the role that technology tools, such as customer relationship management, project management and quoting software, can play in building and maintaining a strong sales pipeline.
4. Keep tinkering
Sit down with your team to discuss sales strengths and weaknesses on a regular basis. Then, make ongoing improvements to ensure long‑term success.