Recent work with one of my clients focuses on sales productivity.
Over the last years he has focused on up-talenting and organizing his organization to prepare for the next years of growth. In the sales area he has strong leadership and a solid team of salesreps.
‘They are good, but they are freewheeling”, he tells me. As we dig into this, we identified two common issues.
1. His salespeople have their way of selling. What has made them succesful in the past, is their natural way. My client has spent years developing a set of tools based on his deep experience to assist his salespeople in assessing customer buying trends and leveraging this to upsell, in CRM, in sales process… and yet his salespeople are not consistently using those tools.
He is looking at the wrong root cause. It is a leadership issue. In the regular reviews with salespeople, use of the tools must be part and parcel. It must be clear to them that using these valuable tools to increase revenue is not negotiable and sales management owns that performance management process. In account reviews, use the tools and have the salesperson explain their results with the tools.
Measure use of tools and incorporate it into the compensation plan. If it feels negotiable to the salesperson, it is because it hasn’t been enforced.
2. Customer analysis and the concept of quality revenue – Salesreps want to sell more. They make more money that way. What they pursue is again a function of their past experience and relationships.
However, companies , as they mature, must become adept at customer segmentation, at deeply understanding what kind of customers, what kind of revenues make up their book of business.
And in so doing, companies create a core competency of targeting certain sales – certain customers, certain verticals, certain products – all key levers to optimise revenue and margin. In other words, not all revenue is created equal.
Some is better than others and we want more of that. Some we will find to be non-contributory, and we need to address those and assure we get no more of those . As we create these tools, we develop refined target lists of customers to fill our pipeline.
So, as marketing and business intelligence processes are developed, the business gets smarter about the revenues and customers it wants to target. At that point, the salespeople need direction as to what to pursue.
Again, a whole new set of processes, strong leadership and guidance by management, strong metrics to assure the ship is turning in the new direction.
When we feel our salespeople are freewheeling, in all likelihood it is our processes and leadership and performance management that is freewheeling. Create tight processes and reinforcement and your salespeople will respond, putting their skills and experience to the new areas of focus.