The 4 C's of Sales Strategy and Restructuring

By Warren Shiver

We’ve worked with several clients on elements of their sales strategy, which clearly define who you are selling to, what you are selling, how you are selling, and why you are different -- all to support better returns for the sales organization (Revenues – Cost of Sales). Asking fundamental questions like these begin to point to significant gaps and opportunities around sales structure and alignment.

While decisions related to sales strategy, model, and structure are highly unique to an organization, we find that investigating four core areas -- what we call the 4 C's of sales strategy -- can help guide those decisions:

  • Customer – How do you segment customers based on size, potential, needs, capacity, location, etc?  Which are your highest priority segments?
  • Coverage – Based on what you learned in customer analyses, how should you define your coverage model to best align with your highest value segments?
  • Capacity – What is the workload required to sell and service customers and how do we size/resource our team (and selling roles within it) accordingly?
  • Capability – What competencies do our people need in order to engage in the right conversations with different levels of customers, which for many companies span strategic/consultative selling to tactical selling?

By examining each of these areas, a sales organization can maximize both selling efficiencies (e.g., reducing overlapping resources, reducing T&E, and expanding the “bag” of solutions) and sales effectiveness (e.g., more value for the customer through broader solutions, better experience through single point of contact).

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When Is It Time to Optimize Sales Resources?

By Michael Perla

“History is filled with brilliant people who wanted to fix things and just made them worse.” – Chuck Palahniuk.

If you've ever been into jogging, you know that you usually get injured if you violate one of the three “too’s” – too much, too soon, too fast. It’s easy to get carried away when you first start an exercise program. Similarly, in managing sales, if you don’t take a good assessment of where you currently are, you are bound to miss something and spend more time, resources, and effort than necessary.

I’m not talking about months-and-months of research, but it’s never a waste of time to ask yourself some key questions before you start most endeavors, especially since it’s easy for us to ‘lock-in’ on a single alternative or fool ourselves into thinking we are in a better state than we are.

What are the key questions to ask to determine if you need to optimize sales resources?

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Back to the Future – The B2B Sales Imperative

By Warren Shiver

“Whoa, this is heavy…There's that word again; "heavy." Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth's gravitational pull?" -- Back to the Future

A recent HBR article, The New Sales Imperative got me thinking about the classics. Seems like the “new” B2B sales imperative looks a lot like the old one. It reminds me of NBC’s great slogan in the 1990’s when they would show reruns of their must-see lineup on Thursday nights (the era before Netflix, streaming, etc.), “If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you.”

I’m not quite sure of the original source, but we were working with sales teams to define their buyer-aligned sales process with supporting “customer evidence” back at OnTarget in the late ‘90s for clients, such as Microsoft, IBM, and HP. There are reasons that good ideas are enduring, especially in sales where there are such clear scorecards.

Back to the Basics

We are often asked about the latest sales trends and pushed by clients, especially those focused on Learning & Development, to offer the latest sales technique, program, or approach. Increasingly, we are recommending a back-to-basics approach for many of our clients.

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The Sales Resource Challenge -- How Many, How to Align?

By Michael Perla

According to Harvard Business Review, companies spent $800B on sales force compensation and another $15B on sales training in 2015.  If you add in another $15B investment in CRM according to Gartner, companies spent $830B on people, people development and enabling technologies, which is roughly 5% of total US Gross Domestic Product.  This is a staggering amount of money invested to deliver revenue growth. 

Contrast this figure to the investment we make annually in optimizing the return on that investment.  Once a year, typically during the budget process, we sit down and think through how many sales people we need in the organization.  We may base our sizing assumptions on how we performed this year, our revenue targets for the upcoming year, or a financial analysis of the costs (e.g., recruiting, on-boarding) versus the benefits (revenue ramp-up time). 

More often than not, we devote too little time prioritizing our customers, determining our coverage model, and sizing our sales teams. Our need to reassess is magnified when there have been major market or competitive shifts or if our company has grown through acquisition.

We all know the value of rebalancing our 401K to drive greater returns on our investment portfolio.  Yet, as collective stewards of nearly $1 trillion in sales investment, the question remains – why do we place so little time and effort in driving a greater return on our investment in sales? 

To answer that question, we developed an in-depth guide around the components of Sales Resource Optimization (SRO), including the 4 C’s of customers, coverage, capacity and capabilities. More and more of our clients are annually re-assessing how they organize and deploy sales resources to ensure they are keeping up with market/customer changes, which are happening at an accelerated pace today.

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The First 90 Days for a Sales Leader: A Guide to Success

By Hope Eyre

If you’re a Sales VP and you’ve been in the same role for more than 2 years – Congratulations, you’re above average (like a child from Lake Wobegon). You’ve already exceeded the average Sales VP shelf life of 18 months. Statistically, it’s just a matter of time before you change jobs.

Maybe you’re a veteran to the role, but you’ve taken on a far larger sales organization than you’ve ever led before. Maybe you’re a brand new Sales VP and are still shaping your leadership skills.

Maybe your company just reorganized, and you find yourself heading up an entirely different sales organization than the one you had previously – or even more daunting, you’ve been charged with building one out of whole cloth.

And maybe you’re hovering around that 18-month mark, and circumstances are making you wonder whether you should start looking.

So many of our long-term clients include sales leaders who’ve moved from one company to another (often more than once) that we decided to build a guide for achieving quick wins, avoiding pitfalls and setting a clear, long-term sales strategy within The First 90 Days.

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The Sales Transformation Dilemma – To Tweak or To Transform?

By Michael Perla

"Sometimes a tweak (delivered through training or a new tool) is all a sales force needs; other times, a full-bore transformation is in order."

The quote above was part of a book I co-authored with Warren Shiver entitled the 7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation. In the book, one topic we discuss is the difference between a sales force transformation and a tweak. Since the book release in January, we have received a lot of questions around tweaks versus transformations. What exactly do we mean by sales force transformation? As a sales leader, what are some qualifying questions I can ask that help me assess if a transformation -- or a tweak in the right areas -- is the right approach?

In response to these great questions, we have created additional tools and resources for sales leaders to understand the difference between these two options and which would have the best impact on their sales organizations.

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What is a Key Lever for Sales Transformation Success?

By Michael Perla

In our book, 7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation, my co-author, Warren Shiver, and I write about a key sales transformational lever that is often thrown around like a platitude, but it’s not to be overlooked or trivialized for any organizational initiative. It requires a constant struggle to maintain and enhance. Given that a sales transformation should be a cross-functional endeavor, it’s an essential element to developing and deepening relationships across an organization.

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7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation Blog Series – Step 3: Building Your Case for Change

By Warren Shiver

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.

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7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation [Infographic]

By Symmetrics Group

Markets and customer expectations have changed overnight. You can plan to execute a sales transformation the right way or you should plan to fail. These are the 7 Steps you can't skip:

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7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation Blog Series – Step 1: Drivers of a Transformation

By Warren Shiver

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.

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