How Do You Know If Your Sales Force is Good? Really Good?

Blog126_MeasuringSalesForce_1-1In today’s Internet world, most questions can be answered on the spot. Any question of fact is just a search away, and any question of opinion can be disregarded.

Every once in a while, we don’t get the answer we’re searching for because it lies between facts and opinion.

This question is one of those:  I Googled, “How do I know if my salesforce is good?” and found 3,470,000 results, but with no direct answer.

Most of the results offered up CRM adoption and how to generate sales leads.

Not the answer I was looking for.

Of course, how do you define “good.” It’s so subjective. You need objective evidence to carve out a worthwhile definition.

This question was inspired by a client who completed our complimentary Sales Performance Meter that benchmarked his company’s sales process against world-class results found in the CSO Insights Sales Best Practice Study.

I don’t think he expected an answer to his question on the spot, but he should have. He should be able to know if he has a “good” sales force. I can tell you from experience that few sales leaders can answer this question with full confidence. How would you answer this question about your sales force?

Use the Sales Performance Meter®, which provides a directional look at activities where additional focus may provide a more significant return. As each organization’s sales force is different, with a unique set of goals and objectives, we spent considerable time with this client giving him insight and perspective, based on the results of the report.

The purpose of the Sales Performance Meter® is to help companies identify areas for improvement by comparing their current sales practices, based on their perspective as provided in the survey, to the benchmarks of World-Class Sales Performance.

These insights help guide a company’s decision making on where improvements will make the greatest impact on performance in its sales organization. The responses the client gave were provided by several questions featured in CSO Insights annual global study of sales organizations, the CSO Insights Sales Best Practices Study. The study reveals the activities that have the greatest influence on generating growth in several important measurements used by sales organizations around the world.

One of the questions asked of the participant:  “Do we clearly understand our customers’ issues before we propose a solution?” This client’s answer suggested this is an area that needs to be improved.

The client’s sales process was based on implied needs without a deeper dive to fully understand the need. The client company had a tendency to assume the need and then pitch the product which was the reason the company had so many deals stuck in their sales pipeline.

Blog126_MeasuringSalesForce_1-2By learning from their top performers, who had a tendency to seek out the need first then link their product, they build a sales playbook so every sales rep followed the same process.

Of course, sales forces have to be judged ultimately by their performance against business results, like making quota. But revenue is too blunt a measure to reveal definitively whether a sales force is any good.

In our example, the client company beat its company revenue projections by 25 percent. However, that was due to a major, unexpected customer purchase in the 4th quarter. The fact is, only 45 percent of the salesforce met their individual quotas.

This example is why the sales force leaders need sales data objectives to place a wider lens on a salesforce’s performance. Only then can a company hold greater confidence that leadership has built a “good” sales force.

If you have the right market coverage to execute your go-to-market strategy, and you’re continuing to improve your selling capabilities, and you’re capturing the right prospects, selling the right products, then it’s a good sales force. What more could you ask for?

Take a step back.  If your business results aren’t coming in, then either expectations were set too high, or there is something else working against the sales force.

As we discussed in last week’s blog, the key is setting the right sales objectives and structuring metrics on the activities needed to achieve those objectives. These performance metrics for a sales force can be good indicators of good sales management. If the sales objectives are set properly and the sales force is meeting them, then sales leadership is doing its job.

You can’t manage and coach your sales force if you only measure whether it has met its quota. This reality is why sales objectives are so vitally important. They give management a deeper level of control over the performance of its sales force.

What management is saying: “Just don’t bring us revenue. Bring us the right revenue in the right way with the right prospects so we can build a long term win-win relationship. And here is what we mean by right.”

When desired business results are supported with relevant sales objectives and we monitor the right activity, we’re on the right track to answering yes to the question, “Is your sales force good?

Give yourself the chance to answer, “Yes!”  Evaluate your team with the Sales Performance Meter today; then we’ll be in touch to add insight and perspective to your effort to build a world-class sales force.

See you on upside,

Bill

For more information on how to simplify the complex sale, go to www.pleinairestrategies.com Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700

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