Five Key Steps to Sales Transformation
Hiring freeze. No air travel. Web meetings instead. Department consolidation. Code Red...
You can’t cut your way to growth.
Increasing revenue and reducing costs are the only two levers available to improve your business performance. While reducing costs should always be a part of a company’s strategy as it invites innovation and process improvements, cost cutting can only take you so far. You just can’t cut your way to growth. If it is growth you desire, your focus should be on transforming your sales team. A high performing sales team with the right tools and support will deliver consistently quarter after quarter, year after year.
Here are five critical-to-success factors to implement that will accelerate growth and maintain ever increasing revenue:
1. Executive Ownership and Alignment: This seems obvious, however, all too often we see executive management teams where each member is focused on their own “priority” (HR on labor policies, CFO on reporting the numbers, CIO on systems improvements, COO on operations, CEO on managing the board and/or the street) and when the sales team doesn’t deliver, the VP of Sales is the lone person on the hot seat or worse — fired. Every member of senior management must be part of the sales strategy and aligned to support it. Best in class companies have all members of senior management in the field with their clients. Does your HR leader make sales calls? How about your CFO? The entire senior management team must be connected directly to the customer to ensure that your entire organization is aware of and aligned on delivering what matters most to your clients.
2. Implement Both Sales Process and Sales Methodology: All buyers follow a process that begins with recognizing that they have a need and evaluating their options and then moves through resolving their concerns to purchasing and implementing. Your sales team needs to be trained to understand each stage of this “buying process” and the key actions they must take in their “selling process.”
Insight Squared, along with the Sales Management Association recently published a study that found 20% year over year growth from organizations that had implemented a formal selling process that was directly aligned with the buying process. The same study shared that organizations whose sales managers spend over 3 hours per week specifically on coaching and inspecting pipeline opportunities found 11% more growth than those whose managers spent less than 3 hours per week.
It's really about coaching, not data inspection. More time allows sales managers to deliver the kind of coaching that really matters. Not simply looking at CRM data for opportunities, but actually giving meaningful feedback about how reps can improve the way they manage opportunities overall. Implementing both a common approach and language around your selling process, and a sales methodology for managing the opportunities is necessary and proven to deliver accelerated growth.
3. Compensation Alignment. Enough said. Manage channel conflict, drive cross-selling, improve margins, and penetrate specific segments. A misaligned compensation model will prevent your ability to accomplish these critical to success factors. You should review your sales team’s compensation plan annually and provide the right rewards for results. Compensation, rewards and recognition drive behaviors. What behaviors are you driving?
4. Account Management. If your client and revenue retention is below 93%, you are seriously handcuffing your sales team. You need happy and loyal customers to drive revenue expansion and provide referrals for new clients. Put proven Key Account Management processes and tools in place to assess and manage any client risk you have. Do the math on your own business. What would your P&L look like if you didn’t lose any clients?
5. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Again and again and again. Conference calls, newsletters, one on ones, whatever it takes! Most organizations have sales teams that are spread across the country or region. Even if they are all located in the corporate office, they are likely on the road most of the time, visiting prospects and clients. We find executive teams expressing frustration about the sales team’s lack of following the strategy for the company. When pressed further, it becomes clear that the sales team doesn’t really understand the strategy, perhaps because it was never communicated or perhaps only communicated in one conference call or one email and then not consistently reinforced or measured. From the day a sales professional is hired, do everything you can to ensure they fully understand the company strategy, game plan and what daily actions they must take to deliver the desired results.
If you feel you can improve in any of these five key areas or you would like to learn more about best practices for transforming your sales force, Butler Street can help. Our ClientFirst A.R.E. philosophy is built upon years of sales execution success and winning strategies that any organization can implement. Click on CONTACT and let’s start the conversation.
Mary Ann McLaughlin serves as a Managing Partner at Butler Street, a leading management consulting, training and research firm that focuses on client and talent development. Prior to Butler Street, she served in executive roles for 13 years including chief operating officer, president and managing director. A Six Sigma Champion certified executive, McLaughlin leverages her robust process background with 32 years of sales and operational experience.
A recreational triathlete, McLaughlin has completed three marathons (Chicago 2x, Marine Corps) and numerous triathlons. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from Bradley University.