We are now well into 2017 and you will have set your objectives for the year or someone will have discussed them with you before you agreed them. I have never come across anyone in sales who at this time of year has said “well this is a doddle”! It is not in the make-up of sales people to do so and while managers, directors and owners might imply it, in their private moments they know it not to be the case. Whether your challenge is growth, improved margins, less churn or new customer acquisition, the resources you will have at your disposal will, by definition, be restricted in volume and limited in scope. So what are they? I would suggest the following.
1) your customers – they are your fundamental asset
2) your people – they make things happen
3) your infrastructure – it facilitates the business process(es)
4) your investment funds – they facilitate your business strategy and
5) your company ethos and values – they are the heartbeat of your business.
When organisations think about addressing their challenges rarely do they consider all their resources and harmonise their activities to ensure success. In this first of a series of newsletters we will look at how decisions taken without considering the whole asset base will fare.
Let’s take improving sales effectiveness as an example and start with the assumption that we know what improving sales effectiveness might really mean. The sorts of things that people do when addressing this as a strategy are:
1) implement a CRM/sales automation system aligned to a new streamlined sales process
2) identify skills and product training needs and define and implement training plan
3) buy and implement a (new) sales methodology/system
4) train sales managers in coaching
5) optimise sales time utilisation by segmenting customer base and deploying best resources to service major accounts and scarce resourcing others
6) identify and monitor a set of relevant KPIs, take appropriate remedial action should failure to meet them arise.
This all seems fair enough doesn’t it, but is it? Will this approach work? I would say it will work in part but not have the desired effect. It is easy to focus on the negatives so let’s examine how it could be made to work. Success will depend not only on implementation but on how the strategy is developed. Classic British management is top down, and this has a number of counter-productive traits. One of these is lack of trust. On the other hand, trust can be a massive motivator and engagement mechanism. It says to the people, you know your job and know how to improve it. Provide the guidelines but let the sales people create the strategy and then help them deliver it. The result is that it will work far better than a top down approach.
Improving sales effectiveness is not just a sales strategy, to make it really work it has to be a company strategy. It is not just the sales force that impacts sales effectiveness; the whole organisation and asset base impacts it. In the next editions of The SalesPulse we will discuss how these can be used to your best advantage.
The SalesPulse Insight – What’s in a brand?
Everything the marketers will tell you, but is it? Let’s consider the impacts of a damaged brand. Everyone is aware of the Samsung Note 7 problem. For example, the airlines will not let you take them on a plane and in the UK we generally rubbish the brand because of it. But what are the real impacts? Markets react differently, and, in the world’s largest consumer market the Samsung brand leads on quality, price and referral, and to complete the picture their quarter four profits are up by over 50 percent. (Source: Economic Times India 25th January, 2017). There must be some lessons for us all in this!