"If your sales force is not functioning properly, then the rest of the business almost doesn't matter," says Alan Rigg, an independent sales consultant in Scottsdale, Ariz. Whether a sales decline is a result of too few or lazy reps, or an economic slow-down, businesses should analyze the problem before revenues drop too low.

According to reports in BusinessWeek, there are creative solutions to get around these issues:

  • Smart Hiring - Consider giving job candidates an assessment test to get a window into their sales styles. Experts suggest using the test results as just one aspect of the hiring process, and confirm what was outlined in the interview. It is also important to keep the tests well-rounded. Most questions should aim to measure verbal, reasoning and learning skills. Others should focus specifically on selling skills.
  • Everyone's in Sales - Reports show that it is important to reevaluate compensation programs to make it fair across the board. To drive growth, consider commission only on new business to encourage sellers and offer percentage increases to project managers who manage and encourage repeat business.
  • Build the Base - Although some companies get nervous when they see their revenue coming from just a few big customers, experts say it is important to have this base. It is smart to expand to help grow the business, but reports indicate that it is more important to not abandon your core.
  • Prospecting Online - For companies with little to spend on marketing efforts, experts recommend you use the information you have to help grow your business and drive your sales team. E-mail has taken off in recent years because of its quick action in directly reaching buyers with special offers and new products. Many companies are using this to reach business prospects and existing customers.
To read more about BusinessWeek's sales tips, click here.