EXCEPTIONAL SALES – WITHOUT MORE REPS, COST OR RISK
What CEO doesn’t want to increase sales? The challenge isn’t usually whether to grow sales or not, but how to do it without adding significant cost and/or risk. All too often growing sales results in making sweeping changes to staffing, commission plans, territory alignment and/or processes. CEOs far too often buy into the need for overhauls rather than tune-ups – either on their own initiative or by acceding to the recommendations of their sales executives. Long before radical steps are required, some simple, basic tweaks can make significant improvement in sales results that can drop profit to the bottom line.
Most sales improvement programs are like high-risk heart surgery – when what is really needed is physical therapy. Continuous small steps, implemented in the right order, enable companies to minimize disruption and grow better – both today and tomorrow.
How often have CEOs heard from their sales executive and/or sales force that the following are either current issues, or required to increase sales:
- We need more sales reps
- We need higher compensation
- 20% of our reps will always generate 80% of our sales
- We need a new commission plan
- We need more leads
- Great sales reps are unique and cannot be managed
The four areas that have both the greatest impact on sales and the ability to be tweaked without radical or risky steps are:
- Balance – not accepting the 80/20 rule
- Performance to Expectations – expecting all reps to meet their quota every month
- Consistency – sales are generated throughout a period, not bunched at the end of a month or quarter
- Forecasting – accurate forecasts are produced for planning by the rest of the organization
There are three focus areas that when addressed together can have significant impact on sales results. Ask yourself the following questions to assess each area:
- Do you have a defined sales process?
- Does the organization maintain sales tools for each step of the sales process?
- Do you monitor each step in the sales process?
- Is the sales process understood by the organization?
- Do your sales reps have a compelling value proposition and target market?
- Do the executive staff and sales organization use the same compelling value proposition and target market?
- Do you monitor selling of your compelling value proposition to your target market?
- Is your compelling value proposition and target market understood by the entire organization?
- Are individual sales reps’ expectations defined and communicated?
- Are individual sales reps held accountable for forecast accuracy?
- Do you monitor individual performance against defined expectations?
- Is the entire company held accountable for supporting sales process execution?
WHERE DO YOU START?
If the answers to the above three sets of questions were not a clear and resounding “yes”, then there are some key initiatives that you can begin in your organization:
- Develop and enforce a sales process
- Create clear alignment between company business objectives and sales department objectives
- Define clear expectations for each sales rep, and begin holding them accountable for performance against those expectations
- Initiate monthly insights from sales reps
To instill and start to reinforce the kind of behavior that leads to increased sales on an ongoing basis, have your sales reps answer the following four questions at the beginning of every month – without fail:
- What was my biggest accomplishment for the last month?
- How did I do against last month’s quota?
- How do I look for meeting this month’s quota?
- What is the most significant hurdle I have in meeting this month’s quota?
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