Now is the time to rethink your current sales force and strategy to ensure your business’s long-term viability.
To help you get started, here are two case studies from our work files where the businesses got it right.
Story one: Transform your current sales team
“The Sales Culture Transformation and Competency Project we worked on with you in 2008 has been a great success for our team. The culture is now fantastic and the morale of the sales team is very good. We aimed for the culture we wanted and got it. People have settled into their roles and it is working out fantastically. It was the planning and thinking behind it that made it work. The Competency work has, without a doubt made a difference. The Sales Competencies are ‘gold’. We refer to them all the time and the sales people are using them to develop themselves and have clearer, more accountable, performance reviews. The Competencies helped our team realise how responsible they need to be in their roles.”
This is what can happen when you design your sales force to deliver your strategy.
This quote comes from a Sales Director of a business we have worked with for many years. They had the same sales force structure over the last 15 years and a very stable sales force to go with it. The team and structure had worked very well, however the market was changing and the business needed to adapt to ensure they were current, fit and productive.
In 2008, this Sales Director realised she needed to develop a new strategy moving forward and with that, needed a new sales culture and team to deliver it. But she didn’t want to do away with the current sales team. They were good operators with sound industry knowledge and experience. She knew it would be foolish to start from scratch with a new team and didn’t want to create confusion or unnecessary unrest or anxiety in her existing team.
Her concerns rested upon getting buy-in from the team regarding the new strategy and, in particular, their need to adjust their roles somewhat. Despite not wanting to lose people she was prepared to do so if necessary.
What did she do?
• Developed her sales strategy and then presented her strategy to the sales team, inviting feedback and explaining why they needed to move in this direction, using a well researched, evidenced-based approach. The team knew what was happening in the market place so it came as no surprise that they needed to shift. That is fine intellectually, however we knew the challenge would be in actually getting them to shift in real terms.
• To get the real shift happening she then engaged her team in the development of the new sales roles by engaging in a ‘job design’ process with us.
• Out of the ‘job design’ process we developed the right Sales Behavioural Competencies (DNA) and ‘ideal’ role / person specification matched to sales strategy, product and customer base.
• Sales Behavioural Competencies were then linked to the sales team performance management reviews and are now being used in coaching, recruitment and succession planning processes.
• Sales Behavioural Competencies were mapped to measurable sales metrics.
• The Sales Behavioural Competencies now act as a pivotal reference point in all their work.
With this, the sales people were able to develop themselves, have clearer, more accountable, performance reviews and better role clarity, which means they know how they need to perform to achieve their strategy goals.
Story two: Design the sales team you want from scratch – green fields
A Divisional Manager of a large Australian corporation came to us because they did not want to hire people from their industry as they didn’t think they were competitive in the current market. They wanted to refresh the gene pool and bring in fit sales people who were not tarnished by the industry mindset and its way of doing things. They knew that in this over-commoditised marketplace their sales people were their competitive edge.
They were on the right track but didn’t know where and how to start. Here is what we did together to find elite sales performers:
• Reviewed sales strategy, path to market and products being sold.
• Developed the right Sales Behavioural Competencies (DNA) and ‘ideal’ role/person specification matched to sales strategy, product and customer base.
• Built a structured sales recruitment process and kit.
• Targeted industries the new breed of sales people could come from and went to market to find them.
• Built and implemented the right sales induction training program matched to sales strategy, sales competencies, product and customer base.
• Had new sales team present their ‘go-to-market’ action plan to senior management before they went to market.
• Implemented a sales management support system.
• Followed up with infield training and coaching.
• Mapped and measured sales metrics.
The results were dramatic from a sales initiative perspective.
The new breed of elite sales performers achieved a sales closing ratio of 4:3 within two months against an industry average of 3:1 and sold the annual sales budget within five months.
Feedback from the sales people was that this was the best sales recruitment and sales induction process they had ever been through. In all their sales careers, and many came from big name companies, they had never been set up so well to succeed. They felt confident, proud and capable to really deliver.
Feedback from the client: “We worked in partnership to develop an end-to-end model for a new innovative sales team. The approach was unique in that they worked with us across recruitment, training, needs analysis, pitch planning and the end delivery. They added huge value to any sales process.”
By designing your ‘ideal’ sales force blueprint you can build and achieve the following in your business:
• Change your sales culture by creating the exact culture you want.
• Design and recruit the ideal sales force you want / your strategy needs.
• Refresh your thinking, ideas, actions and results.
• Develop career paths and succession planning.
• Clear performance expectations.
• Clearer, more accountable, performance reviews.
• Provide a framework for identifying what a high performing sales person looks like for your business.
• Profiling of the core sales capabilities / competencies for sales managers / sales people for use in recruitment, performance management, training, coaching and succession planning.
• Provide a framework for assessing the calibre of candidates as defined by core competencies and values.
As you prepare for the next financial year and are developing your sales strategy, take time to reflect on what your ‘ideal’ sales force blueprint should be.
Do not underestimate the value of taking time to think and plan, ultimately it could make you a lot more money.
Sue Barrett is the Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales Teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs and strategies. For more information please go to www.barrett.com.au