August 27th, 2012
Sales Leadership: Focus on Focus
During an initial meeting where I was performing a business assessment with a new client several common topics re-appeared and since I seem to discover these quite often, I thought it would be a good topic for this blog. The company has been growing, not at an aggressive pace but slowly and the sales organization was in chaos, working opportunistically on various sales deals and randomly in the marketplace. The result; the delivery organization is bogged down, low profitability and no insights into the pipeline or sales activity.
While I don’t the space to fully outline each of our recommended actions I will highlight the necessary actions to increase the level of focus. First, Inspect What You Expect, as the president or VP of Sales your job is to ensure that the sales team is acting in the manner you expect. Can they sell your company effectively? Can they discuss your products/services professionally? Are they working smart? Are they focused on increasing skill levels? This particular client has not had a sales training program for over 5 years
Second: Is your sales team accurately and consistently using your CRM software? I often find that reports are inaccurate because the salespeople are not fully trained on how to use the software or not focused on how to enter certain data properly. As an example; do you change the “stage” of the sale prior to a certain sales activity taking place (demonstration) or do you change the “stage” after the activity has taken place (demonstration)? Each quarter CRM training should take place.
Third: Working Smart is smart. Have you determined what the ideal profile or top 5 characteristics are of your most profitable clients and is your marketing and sales team focused on finding and selling them? This action will increase the velocity of your order pattern and increase profitability. Your messaging must also be aligned to these prospects, check out your competitor web sites to determine their messaging and see how it compares to yours.
Fourth: Are you focused on penetrating your existing accounts? Recently I wrote a blog on Cross Selling and Up Selling (www.SalesManagementGuru.com) that was well received, but I unlike my blog on Forecasting for the Second Half of the Year, where I discussed Salesperson Business Plans, in this particular client we will be implementing “Account Planning “. This exercise should be done quarterly with each salesperson creating a standardize plan for X number of clients. Briefly it entails a format that asks each salesperson to describe their relationship and knowledge of the account. The key section is the sales manager and salesperson must agree on the Account Strategy and Five Tactical Actions the salesperson will act on to further penetrate the account or to even sell the account. Like the Salesperson’s Business Plan, each Account Plan is presented to the entire sales team. Both of these tools are available in our Interactive Sales Management Tool Kit. www.AcumenMgmt.com
Fifth: Build a recipe for your business. Frequent readers of my blog know I love to cook and my Gourmet Living program that assists people in finding their ingredients for success. At my client’s office, we are in the process of determining what leading indicators of future business are appropriate to track and what level of actions by the salesperson are necessary to ensure they exceed quota. For example, for this client with a “inside sales team”, we simply went into the telephone call logs to identify how many calls per day were made by each salesperson. With remote salespeople it instantly showed extreme low volume of activity. Focus on managing the details…
These five steps are only the basics, but by focusing on them, your business will improve-guaranteed! What are your recommendations for other actions?
Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 12 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Ken’s latest book is: Leading High Performance Sales Teams.