Michael Perla

Michael Perla is a contributing writer to Symmetrics Group's blog and co-author of the book "7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation." Michael specializes in providing actionable insights to marketing and sales organizations to help them increase pipelines, win ratios and productivity. In addition to working as a sales performance consultant, Michael has worked as a sales overlay, head of sales operations, and head of strategic marketing planning. Michael currently serves as a Director of Business Value Services at Salesforce.

Recent Posts

Sales Leaders, Did You Make the Right Decision?

By Michael Perla

It was a routine business day. I was in a corner office of a VP of Sales (a client), talking about the sales pipeline. During this conversation, he lamented to me about all the paperwork and reports he is asked to complete. “Sometimes I feel like I’m just re-arranging deck chairs,” he said. “We can stare at the numbers for days, but at some point we need to take action. I’m buried in data … and it’s not helping.”

So how does a sales leader find the right balance between data and decision?

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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 Your Sales Pipeline Telling You?

By Michael Perla

The sales pipeline, or funnel, gets a lot of attention, from CEOs to sales professionals and everyone in between. The CEO often gets asked about the pipeline on analyst calls, while sales managers are constantly looking at their sellers’ pipelines to see if they have the right size, shape and speed.  In some ways, the pipeline equals potential, and almost everyone, from investors to athletic scouts to employers, wants to figure out how to realize the potential of someone or something.

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Alignment: 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 2: Building the Foundation and Vision of the Future

By Michael Perla

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.

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Does Your Go-to-Market Strategy Make Sense

By Michael Perla

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.

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"Pipelies" – The Sales Pipeline Mirage

By Michael Perla

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. 

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How Can I Increase My Sales Productivity

By Michael Perla

There are a lot of platitudes, clichés or sayings today – call them what you will – around getting more from less … or less is more. Something like that … most companies are trying to squeeze out more productivity from what they have. It could be assets, people, or customers.

How can I increase my return on assets? Improve sales productivity? Obtain more share of ‘wallet’ from my existing customers?

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No One Sees the “Grunt” Work in Sales

By Michael Perla

If you watch any amount of television, it would appear that being a police officer, a lawyer, or a doctor must be one episode of excitement after another. The chases, courtroom drama, and adventures seem never-ending – along with a lot of other titillating elements to entice the viewer. As the people in those professions will tell you, most of their work is anything but … it’s often monotonous, routine and tedious. The paperwork, the insurance forms, the endless discovery processes. As I often tell my children, many things or situations are not always what they appear to be.

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How Can You Create More Accurate Sales Forecasts?

By Michael Perla

CSO Insights has been conducting research on sales for almost 15 years. In one of their surveys to over 1,000 sales leaders, they ask about the percentage of forecasted deals that actually close. At first blush, you would think this would be a fairly high number.

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