In our research on sales force transformations for our new book, 7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation, the greatest challenge we heard from our interviews, as well as the survey was the difficulty in achieving sustainable change within a sales team. Even though sales teams and leaders excel at convincing others to change, they are typically highly resistant to change themselves. It’s no accident that there are five steps required to complete in our sales force transformation approach before moving to implementation, and this blog focuses on the third step: building your case for change.
7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation Blog Series – Step 2: Building the Foundation and Vision of the Future
What is your vision for the future? Do you know what you want the sales organization to become? Is your vision of the future big-and-bold and inspiring? These are several of the key questions that Warren Shiver and I set out to answer with a two-year research project that culminates with the publishing of our book, the 7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation.
What does it take to truly transform your sales organization? Do you even need to transform, or simply tweak? What levers can you pull to ensure and even accelerate success? These are several of the key questions that Michael Perla and I set out to answer with a two-year research project that culminates with the publishing of our book, the 7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation, to be published by Palgrave Macmillan on January 5th, 2016.
After several of years of facing challenging sales targets, I realized my job had started to feel like a roller coaster, constantly sending me through extreme emotional highs and lows depending on my performance. Most professionals who choose sales or account management as a career path care about hitting goals, but the fact is that most goals are manipulated to stretch the sales rep just enough to encourage him or her to put forth extra effort in order to achieve their targets.
Like many business projects, sales effectiveness projects are often focused on the big 3 – Increasing revenue, cutting costs and/or reducing risks. When we talk to sales leaders, the primary stated business objectives of sales transformation projects usually tie back to increasing revenue – capturing new accounts, improving up-sell and cross-sell, increasing renewal rates, increasing revenue per seller productivity.
Over the last few years, one of the most popular content assets on the Symmetrics Group website has been this our Go-to-Market Strategy Primer. It’s a topic that many companies struggle with, and it requires both quantitative justification and qualitative ‘color’ to be actionable.
When it comes to go-to-market related questions, we often hear the following:
- Should I start up or expand my inside sales team?
- Does my indirect sales channel actually cost less than my direct team?
- How do our customers want to interact with us – through which channel, device, etc.?
- Overall, how can I increase my sales productivity, while also lowering my cost of sales?
These questions and many more point to the challenges of developing a go-to-market strategy.
Recently, I had the privilege of dining at Per Se in NYC for the first time. What an incredible experience. Much has been written about Thomas Keller and his exceptional restaurants (French Laundry in Napa, Per Se in NYC, Bouchon bakeries, etc.) and their impact on fine dining globally, both through the chefs who have worked for him and through his cookbooks – although I can barely spell sous vide, not to mention know how to operate a machine effectively.
About 12 years ago I consulted with a Vice President of Sales who worked for a large Fortune 50 financial services firm. He was having, like many VP’s of Sales, an issue with his pipeline yielding enough so he could hit his number. If you know anything about business-to-business (B2B) sales, you know that the sales pipeline is constantly scrutinized to ensure a seller has enough pipeline opportunities to hit quota or goal.
In general, most companies assume sellers will win one-quarter to one-third (a win ratio) of their pipeline value, all things being equal. Thus, in a lot of cases, the pipeline value needs to be 3 or 4 times the quota.
As you take sales cycle time into the equation – for example, it takes 90 days to close an average deal –the pipeline math can be a bit more complicated.
“By 2020, 80% of business-to-business transactions will be automated. As a result … in the coming years we can expect the number of sales jobs to shrink from 15.5 million to just four or five million.” -- Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and CEO of Selling Power.
Yes, the title is a bit facetious. In my conversations with sales executives and management, CRM adoption by the sales force is a serious matter. If the data is suspect, the discussions on sales performance can devolve into “jungle” arguments – the loudest and strongest wins vs. the facts and analysis.