Here are some of the top reasons for poor sales productivity, as identified by sales managers and practitioners:
- Lack of focus on target accounts.
- Poor design of the sales coverage model.
- Absence of relevant sales methodology and support for the sales process.
- Inefficient territory design and uneven distribution of accounts.
- Misaligned sales commission plans.
- Lack of focus on pipeline coverage, quality, and conversion.
- Weak or lack of sales enablement capability.
- Lack of effective inspection and coaching.
- Inability to attract, train and retain top sales talent.
- Poor alignment of sales with other departments.
These are not new problems. Many of them are caused by turnover and changes in sales supervision. When good sales managers leave, they leave behind a vacuum that is filled slowly, and this lag often results in a drop in sales performance.
The way to solve this problem is to create strong institutional learning within the company. The on-boarding process for new hires is critical. The culture and processes within your sales department must not be dependent on individuals but must be developed as a team or even a team of teams, to borrow a popular phrase. What is needed is a sales performance model that works and is understood by all.
A Sales Model for Performance
While there are many sales models and approaches, the model we developed is effective for two reasons – one, it is relatively simple, and two, it can be used by almost any type of enterprise sales team to make sure all critical aspects of sales performance are addressed:
Five Go-to-Market Questions
There are five go-to-market questions that need to be addressed:
- What are we selling and to whom?
- What makes the customer buy?
- How do we sell?
- Where do we sell?
- When do we sell?
In our experience, it is the last three questions that sales departments grapple with the most. For example, “how we sell” covers not just the informational and transactional knowledge of the product or service we are selling, but it must also deeply understand the customer need. What is the customer trying to achieve by buying your product or service? What are the alternatives? Why is your solution truly the right one for this particular customer? Where is the customer value? And is that value realized?
Our model also demands that we build and use a sales process that is aligned with the marketing function:
Accountability is key. Every important decision must assign an owner responsible for managing and executing that decision.
The Sixth Question
Another question is also often overlooked: the why, or what is in it for me?
Increasingly, we find that monetary rewards and sales perks are not in themselves enough to motivate a thinking sales force. Rather, we must look to the greater purpose of the company.
There is a shift happening in sales that includes far more collaboration than in the past: collaboration with the sales team, employees in other departments, and collaboration with the customer. Is our company making life easier and better for our customers? How do we make this possible?