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Increasing the Return on Your Sales Investment
Companies need to respond to the market with agility and appropriate customer relationship-focused sales talent.
Posted Sep 13, 2004
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Keeping sales expense to a minimum, while maximizing revenue, is an ongoing challenge for all companies today. As well, companies need to respond to the market with agility and appropriate customer relationship-focused sales talent. After a year of low sales performance a leading retail software company asked a sales consulting firm to help determine areas for improvement, institute best practice sales processes, and upgrade its sales talent. In the first 90 days following implementing the firm's recommendations, the company closed three major new deals and doubled its pipeline. The new strategy, processes, and staffing resources reduced the company's sales cycle time by 40 percent and the company is on track to triple its closings this year. This software company's situation was not unlike more than one of every five in the United States. Most companies have sales organizations, but many will never develop the customer relationship-based sales processes needed to survive--much less thrive--without significant changes to their sales model. CHALLENGES: There are many obstacles to achieving dramatic sales acceleration, including scarce sales resources, focusing sales efforts, achieving revenue growth, and judging how to achieve, increase, measure, and sustain momentum. SOLUTIONS: Build a sales strategy based on industry best practices for your offerings and your customers' industries. Carefully research winning strategies used by your customer base and your competition. Below are nine best practices to consider for your sales organization and its future. Planning methodologies What do your customers really want? Position your company to link precisely to your target markets' most important priorities. A collaborative engagement process puts you front and center with your customers. Discover what makes your customers tick, and uncover markets that are unexplored and untouched by your competitors. Sales process Develop and execute an end-to-end, repeatable revenue process to achieve a high win rate. Include your market selection and revenue strategies, detailed sales processes and tools, sales force recruitment, and project and sales management activities.
Sales talent Your sales strategy determines the makeup of your sales organization. Answer important questions, including: How many salespeople do we need? What roles will they play and how will they be teamed? What territories should they cover? What is the best sales approach for them to use? What critical skills do they need to excel on the job? Skill development Pay as much attention to developing and managing your sales professionals as you do to restructuring, improving processes, and building strategies. Maintain the type of cutting-edge training that keeps your sales team on top. Sales leadership practices Choose senior sales executives with years of successful direct sales experience, management experience, knowledge of proven processes, and industry contacts. They must be willing to be responsible and accountable for being in the trenches as much as necessary to deliver your firm's revenue goals--single-handedly if necessary--and thereby capable of inspiring the sales team to their best performance. Chart

Sales information and support system A major challenge to the effectiveness of any sales force is maintaining the optimal mix of prospecting versus time in face-to-face meetings with clients and targets. Utilize outsourced call centers for prospect profiling, lead generation, appointment setting, and telesales to improve the efficiency of your overall sales process. In addition, outsource all administrative and human resources services needed to support a local, national, or international sales team. Sales team development Determine which candidate profiles will work best and build your team map based on experience in your industry. How well you align your sales talent with the sales process and how well you team with non-sales people in your company will determine whether your organization is built for speed, and if the right people are exhibiting the behaviors that are most predictive of sales success. Growth strategy Test-sell your products and services to gather valuable market intelligence from real prospects and customers, letting you verify, refine, and develop your sales and growth strategies. In this way, you can determine which customer-facing dialogues are on point, as well as gain insights that let you and your investors make intelligent, confident business decisions. Customer-centered culture Putting the customer first is not only delivering your products to them--it is making your customers the center of your business. Let them know that you are their collaborative partners in finding solutions to their problems, and their advocates when issues arise. These best practices work to deliver increased revenues. Using this integrated approach, companies can streamline their sales organization for speed and execution to maximize impact. About the Author Bob Howard (bobhoward@sales-logic.com) is the founder and CEO of SalesLogic, LLC, a Dallas-based provider of consulting and outsourced sales services to companies that deliver software, technology, and a wide variety of services to businesses.
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