Sales productivity doesn’t exist in isolation. A sales organization can’t move forward (and in fact can spend lots of time moving in circles) unless its sales strategy, sales coverage model, and sales enablement methods are all well aligned. Before you start calling on customers, ensure the high-level picture is complete with the following checklist:
1. Insight. The sales organization must understand what’s happening in the market, especially concerning their competitors and customers. Insight can be gathered through forensics on deals won or lost, and by analyzing what we might do better next time. This information is especially valuable if we uncover a pattern within the sales organization of not meeting customer needs or a gap between their expectations and our delivery.
2. Sales capacity. Sales capacity refers to how efficient we are with the resources we have, and asks how we can maximize their capability through alignment, focus, and sales process. What are our job roles? One very effective method of increasing sales capacity is to decontaminate sales jobs and open up more sales time. Sales capacity is also improved through shifting and lifting jobs: moving some people to cover high priority customers with strategic selling while we ask other roles to focus on transactional selling.
3. An actionable strategy. Sales strategy defines a clear plan for how the organization can achieve its sales goals. How do we convert our overall business strategy to the sales organization? How do we translate that strategy into day-to-day tactics, and help the reps understand what they’re supposed to do Monday morning when they go out and start calling on customers? The most sophisticated strategy in the world won’t work unless it can function well on the front line.
4. Account planning. Defining sales productivity also means understanding our actions that are counter-productive. It is not productive to spend a day (or several days) documenting facts, figures, and guesswork about customers and then shelving it for six months. Account plans that are not used in the daily or weekly management of customers are a waste of time. How can we turn our account plans into living account plans, and use them not only to record critical information but as a basis for coaching?
5. Sales compensation. Incentive pay can certainly be used to motivate productivity in individuals. The opposite is true, too; people incented to do the wrong thing can lead to an unproductive sales organization as a best case scenario, all the way to a sales organization confidently charging in the wrong direction, as a worst case. Short term incentives including SPIFFs are another way to motivate productivity.
6. Pipeline. Over the last few years, pipeline management has become much more efficient. This is in part due to the need for more effective lead management in a challenging environment and better application of CRM tools.
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