We run a free-to-use on-line free survey that invites visitors to self-assess their sales organisation against 10 key areas.
Results from 2018 show the areas organisations feel least comfortable about are their ‘new business development activities’ (How good is sales management at driving business growth?) and ‘Customer revenue strategy’ (How do you perceive your organisation’s strategy to grow customer revenues over time?)
By contrast, customer buying process (How well do you understand the process your customers go through when they buy from you?) sales process (How well do we understand the stages we have to go through to win business?) and customer interactions (How effective is the sales team at interacting with customers?) appear to be strong areas.
“How to grow?”
The question “how to grow?” has many answers. Consequently, We believe in the ‘sales system approach’, meaning, there are multiple interrelated parts in a sales organisation. All of these can potentially be improved / optimised, and we have to look at the linkages / unintended consequences too. For example, a sales organisation that promotes ‘team selling’ and then rewards with individual commission!
The 10 elements of the survey show some of the big building blocks we can work on. It’s also possible to see how they influence each other.
“Keep building and optimising the machine!“
Ironically, there are more tools than ever now to assist sales teams in these areas. For instance, think CRM, marketing automation, predictive analytics and so on. Our experience on the ground suggests that many organisations are literally in a building site environment at the moment: That is to say, they have some great building blocks (marketing automation and content management) but they are not worked as a fluid process through the sales team and sales process. In other words, it seems as if the sales industry is like manufacturing was 15 or so years back: Process optimisation was a dream, not a daily practice. To sum up, the advice then is clear: Keep building and optimising the machine!
“5 main growth levers“
The other issue we see in sales organisations is a weak growth strategy which does not take into account the levers that can be pulled. This is something we alluded to in our recent SME workout blog. There are 5 main growth levers:
Customer retention (losing less revenue.)
Cross-selling (sell new products / services to existing customers.)
Up-selling (sell more premium products to existing customers.)
Price increases (Yes, simply increasing price!)
Finding new customers (new revenue sources.)
When organisations have a balanced strategy, taking into account all 5 levers, then the chances of success are higher.
Have you noticed how it’s all gone a bit quiet on the “Science of marginal gains” wave? After the 2012 Olympics, when the working methodologies of the British Cycling team were revealed, organisations rushed to have keynote speakers on this topic. In fact, sales organisations are one area where the approach is truly valuable. In our sales excellence diagnostic, we currently identify 106 best practices sales organisations can systematically work on and improve. Imagine the additive effect of that?
At least one growth strategy is to assess the performance on these areas, and then prioritise where to improve on a rolling programme over 2 to 3 years.
Or contact info@sellinginteractions to arrange the full Sales Excellence Diagnostic.