The Alphabet Article Series – The ABCs of Solving Sales Problems – The 3 “A’s”

If you are still struggling to truly maximize your team’s sales potential and your bottom line or you have consistency problems throughout the year, this article is for you.

So…what qualifies me to offer you any advice on solving your sales problems?

Well…in the fall of 1990 while a freshman in college, I learned how to sell for other companies cutting my teeth on telemarketing calls in a call center. Back then, we sold just about anything to anybody. Twenty-nine years, 20 marketing strategies, and hundreds and hundreds of B2B & B2C client companies later, I’d like to paraphrase the Farmers Insurance tagline:

I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.

We live in a business world of ambiguity, uncertainty, half-truths and blue smoke, especially when it comes to unlocking the code on consistent sales growth. There are so many options when it comes to marketing and trying to drive in sales and so many pitfalls to avoid. And frankly, it drives me nuts. It simply doesn’t need to be complicated.

So, my intent with this series is to cut though that blue smoke and just offer my reader the chance to benefit from some of the experience we’ve had over the years.

The goal? To help others long before they ever see a pitfall. That’s it!

As for the 3 A’s, well, let’s discuss them.

Automate           Adjust                   Accelerate

Automate – This “A” can be a little misleading as well as a potential pitfall if it is not monitored properly. It’s important to note that relationships will always be a part of sales. In fact, I would argue (with sound evidence from other SMEs) that the age of relationship sales is reemerging after a long run of “digitize, digitize, digitize.” So, what I am referring to when I say automate is the need for process. Sales can be very unruly by nature, with all the twists and turn of discovery calls and negotiations. And salespeople, well if you’ve ever managed a sales team, you know that it can be a bit like herding cats.

Automation, however, can help create a lifeline for your sales team and for your individual negotiations. And, ironically, some parts of automating your sales process can be manual. It is critical that you outline your process, that you have key people and pieces of technology working steadily, daily and in a disciplined fashion. That especially applies to your prospecting and follow-up processes. These should be documented, evaluated and easily adjusted based on results. And everyone, from your sales manager to your sales support staff so have a full working knowledge of just what exactly your processes are.

Adjust – This “A” is a potential pitfall in and of itself. All too often a company will deploy a new sales strategy with aggressive growth goals and begin with a “set it and forget it” mindset. I’ve seen it time and again over the years. The company chooses a strategy, gets the whole team ramped up and amped up, and because they have planned for weeks or months, they feel like “this is the one!” and that their battle plan is flawless. Wrong. No battleplan ever survives first contact, period.

What exactly are we adjusting, then?

How are we to know when to adjust?

One word. Data. Any successful sales mission should be laden with quantifiable data that can be evaluated on a real-time basis. And everyone involved in the sales process should not only be aware of the numbers reflecting activity, but they should also be able to interpret what the data is telling them. Read properly, the data should talk to you about your message, your value proposition, your target market and how the 3 are interacting. ALL adjustments should be based on these facts, period. To do otherwise, or worse yet, to allow any ego, pride, opinion, or other intangible into your evaluation process will be one of the first pitfalls you encounter. It’s critical you stick to the facts and LISTEN to what your prospect population is telling you through the data.

Accelerate – Now this “A” is one everyone wants to talk about because it’s exciting to think about in terms of what it can do to your bottom line. Once you have built a solid foundation with your first “A”, and you have tweaked your process and messaging to best fit your prospects actual needs with your second “A”, you get to have a little fun. A word of caution here before I get to the good stuff. Accelerate implies growth and doing lots more of what is working well. Just be careful as you throttle up you don’t forget about your operations staff, your sales team and their potential limitations, or any other potential structural fractures that may exist or be imminent with growth.

Ideally, you will find a sweet spot with the speed you want to travel. It will be good for operational morale, it will be good for salespeople and their commissions, and ultimately it will be good for the company and the bottom line.


I love growth. And I am passionate about helping others grow. So, I always remind our clients of the human element of all of this. There are people on the other end of the transaction you are trying to secure. And there are people that help you secure that deal and fulfill your commitments. So, as you get giddy about turning the throttle more and more (everyone likes to win), be ever mindful of what this new-found growth will mean for all the people involved to make it happen.

Put people first, use the 3 “A’s” as they can benefit you best, and know that I am here to help or just chat should you ever want to discuss what’s best for your team.

To raising all ships!

P.S. Be sure to join us next week when we talk about the 3 B’s – Beliefs, Buy-In & Benchmarks.