How Sales Operations Leaders Can Drive Impact in 90 Days

By Erica Abt

Over the last few years, we’ve received an increasing number of questions about how to structure and/or optimize sales operations and enablement roles, while also observing an increase in the decision influence and authority of these roles. As such, we recently embarked on a project to document what success looks like for Sales Ops leaders, including how they can effectively drive impact in their first 90 days on the job. The culmination of this project is an eBook, "A Sales Operations Leader's First 90 Days", which includes a supporting set of frameworks and tools to help Sales Ops leaders establish quick wins and longer term strategy.

Through our project, we interviewed numerous sales operations, enablement, and effectiveness leaders from a variety of industries and sizes of companies in the US and UK. We collected a significant amount of feedback across strategic, organizational, process, technology, and skills-related considerations.

Read more for a high-level overview of our eBook, including a summary of the recommendations and tools we've developed. Each tool links to a download of our eBook and toolkit.

Continue Reading

Is Now the Right Time to Restructure Your Sales Team?

By Joni Santos

Many, if not most, of you will read the title of this blog and think to yourself, “No way! My team is in survival mode. I do not have the time or energy to dedicate to a restructuring right now.”

True, we are living in unprecedented times, and yes, the current environment has left many businesses struggling to make ends meet while their customers’ buying behaviors have drastically changed, slowed to a crawl, and in many cases, stopped altogether. So, how can this possibly be a good time, let alone the right time, to restructure your sales team?

I would argue that it’s likely the perfect time.

Let me explain.

Continue Reading

Seven Hard Truths About Selling Value

By Rachel Cavallo

Everyone wants to sell their offerings for more, but sales teams are continually torn between the corporate message “we need to sell value; what we offer is worth more than what we're getting” versus the customer message “we can’t spend that” or "your competitor's price was better."

Here’s the reality. Value selling is hard. It’s very doable, and quite frankly, it's the right thing to do, unless you want to erode margins to the point of zero profitability. But to do it right, you’ve got to face seven hard truths head on.

Continue Reading

The 60-Day Sales Discovery Challenge in 5 Simple Steps

By Rachel Cavallo

I spend a lot of time interviewing sales leaders to diagnose their sales challenges. The number one theme I hear? Their teams don’t know enough about their customers. They don’t ask the right questions, don’t ask enough questions, and don’t apply what they learn to sell more.

Typically, my question back to them is, “So what are you doing about it?” I’m a firm believer that teams will rise to the expectations of their leaders, but those expectations need to be clear, succinct, and consistently applied and measured.

I also know that it takes 30 to 60 days of consistent focus to change behavior (the behavior of the sales professional AND the leader). Widespread, long-term change is daunting, though, so, here is my challenge to you… Take a 60-Day Sales Discovery Challenge with your team.

Continue Reading

Do You Run a Sales Team or Just a Group of People Who Report to You?

By Rachel Cavallo

Whenever I work with a group of salespeople, I notice one prevailing theme.  They love to interact with each other and share ideas.  When we give salespeople an activity that involves sharing their experiences and asking for feedback from their peers, the level of engagement and enthusiasm skyrockets... especially when teams are dispersed and are working remotely and virtually. To build on that, most surveys that we receive post sales training show that the sellers want more opportunities to share with and learn from their peers.

If sellers love collaboration and learning from each other, shouldn't sales leaders be running their teams to foster these dynamics?

Continue Reading

Are You an “Operational” Sales Leader?

By Masami Middleton

As sales consultants, we often say that great sales leaders demonstrate three things consistently: 1) They are great sellers, 2) They are great coaches, and 3) They are great operators.

Sadly, top sellers promoted to sales managers do not magically demonstrate all three. This is why we see and talk regularly about the “Peter Principle” in sales, where sales leaders "rise to their level of incompetence".

Of these three traits, which do you think is most lacking?  Most would probably debate between traits #2 and #3.  Let’s look at it from the manager’s point of view:

  • Great Seller: “I am a great seller, that’s why I got promoted - duh.”
  • Great Coach: “I have good relationships with my team; I can teach them how to be successful.” (Red flag – what made you successful does not necessarily make everyone successful.)
  • Great Operator: “What do you mean by ‘operator’?” (Red flag - Not many are thinking about how to run a winning sales team.)

We have written a lot about issue #2, on sales coaching.

In this blog, we focus on trait #3, on successfully operating a sales team. (Which by default improves your sales coaching impact).

Continue Reading

Top 10 Account Planning Mistakes to Avoid

By Masami Middleton

In B2B sales, driving revenue from existing accounts is far easier than landing net new customers. With so much opportunity available, why do mature sales organizations still “wing it” with their Account Planning process?

According to CEB/Gartner research, only 28% of sales leaders believe their account management channels meet their cross-selling and account growth targets. Thoughtful, intentional account plans provide real strategic insight and actionable game plans for account teams to meet growth targets. For sales managers, account plans provide an excellent foundation for consistent coaching conversations, insight into forecasts, and an overall way of staying engaged with customer activity.

Account Planning is the process of determining the best way to grow and add value to existing accounts. While many organizations engage in both Account Planning and Territory Planning (systematically determining how to optimize impact over a portfolio of accounts), the purpose of this post is to explore the deep dive Account Planning process to dissect one account at a time.

If your team is currently digging into Account Planning (or about to), here are 10 common mistakes to avoid.

Continue Reading

4 Lessons After 6 Months and 100+ Hours of Virtual Sales Training

By Erica Abt

Like many of you, our Symmetrics Group team spent the majority of 2020 getting smarter about the functionality of tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and WebEx, so that we can more effectively work with our clients in the virtual world.

On the various platforms we studied things like: How to manage chat questions and live chat conversations, launch polling questions, build surveys, and manage virtual break-out rooms for group exercises. Our objective was learning how to best imitate an effective in-person training experience.

Though our team has worked virtually for years, we still faced a learning curve to make sure the virtual training experience felt easy and seamless to participants.

After several months of delivering 100+ hours of only virtual training and workshops to clients across a variety of industries, our Symmetrics Group team regrouped to reflect on what we had learned and where we had opportunities to improve. We arrived at four key lessons.

Continue Reading

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?

We unpack these decisions in our comprehensive Guide to Sales Resource Optimization. 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).

Continue Reading

The Case for Sales Onboarding and How to Do It Right

By Joni Santos

The business case for good employee onboarding is nowhere more glaring than in the sales organization. Companies spend more to hire talent in sales than in any other part of the organization and also experience some of the highest turnover rates (25% to 30% annually). When a seller leaves, the departure can cost a company between $75K to $300K each year, before considering lost revenue (Cespedes/Weinfurter, HBR). After hiring a replacement, it takes an additional three to six months for a sales rep to become productive.

Benefits of Good Onboarding

Experts agree that a well-executed onboarding program can reduce risk, accelerate the path to productivity, and reduce attrition. CEB research on sales onboarding tells us that engaged employees are 9 times less likely to leave, and effective onboarding programs have the potential to increase employee performance by 15%. Research by Glassdoor found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent.

Continue Reading
New call-to-action
New Call-to-action
New Call-to-action