Untapping the true potential of your sales organisation
The new priority is revenue growth. For companies looking to outperform peers and the market, it's time to untap the true potential that exists within the sales function of the organisation. Research shows the clear shift of emphasis towards growing the top line. Chief Executives acknowledge that shift, and it comes as no surprise to see business growth as their critical and number one priority according to The Conference Board\'s Top CEO Challenge Survey 2011.
Sales operations underperform for many reasons. In this article, we focus on some of the fundamentals:
the impact they have on sales operations;
and some simple steps companies should take to address this.
Four fundamental reasons sales operations underperform
- The inability to move the performance curve i.e. the reasons why most sales training programs fail to deliver and the role sales management needs to play to change this;
- Fear of pricing i.e. how to combat discount pricing mania to provide a buffer to margins;
- Management by assumption i.e. the need to dispel the myth held by sales management that the majority of sales people do not need to be rigorously managed;
- The CRM myth i.e. the mistaken belief of sales operations and sales leadership that a new platform or the latest technology will be the ultimate solution to improving performance.
Unfortunately, many Chief Executives face a common problem: sales operations that cannot deliver on promises made. Most sales operations underperform. And why? Because their operations do not have the ability to effectively execute the strategy needed to grow the business at the desired or required pace. This is not to say there isn't talent in the sales team, nor the will to execute the strategy. On the contrary, most sales forces have a certain level of talent with a strong belief they will be successful in delivering the sales plan targets. But too many quarters of missing the mark or barely achieving numbers against sub-optimal targets leave most Chief Executives wanting for more. Recent surveys have all drawn the same conclusion: Chief Executives need and want to grow the business but lack confidence in their sales operations ability to effectively execute the growth strategy required.
No company strategy, however brilliantly conceived has ever succeeded without tight control of top line revenue. In today's competitive markets, for a company to flourish, it has to be adept at selling. Today's most successful sales operations have equipped their people with the requisite skills, provided the appropriate training and supplied the right tools that allow them to get on with the job of selling. These are the organisations that have moved their people out of the lower performing ranks into the middle or even top group.
But, not all companies can raise their hand to forming part of this pinnacle group. However by addressing the four fundamentals outlined in this article, chief executives can at least ensure that their sales operations makes a move in the right direction to grow their top line and provide a buffer to eroding margins.
As the pressure mounts on chief executives to deliver the strategy and realise the full potential of their organisation, many will find time is not on their side. For those chief executives looking for a more drastic uplift in performance, as a means to put some distance between them and their competitors, success may demand an alternative approach the installation of radical financial and operational improvements within their sales operation by partnering with specialists, expert in the delivery of change within sales.