Insight

Improving Your Sales Effectiveness

Virtually all companies want more sales, but most fail to achieve sustainable growth figures.  Why are they so bad?

 

Performance Quest sees two fundamentally different philosophies that are adopted by companies trying to close more sales.

 

The first, takes the position that sales is a job undertaken by individuals and that individual sales performance is the main thing that needs improving.  They tend to hire and fire salespeople on a regular basis, and rarely achieve stability, attract the best people or create a repeatable sales process.

 

The second considers, not the performance of individuals, but the sales effectiveness of the entire organisation.  For them, ‘sales’ is a philosophy of working.  These organisations succeed in both good and difficult times.

 

At Performance Quest we see both approaches and know for sure that the only one that delivers sustainable results is the latter.

 

WHAT CULTURE DO GOOD SALES MANAGERS NURTURE?

Good managers encourage a culture where their teams recognise both internal and external customers.  Without doubt, the most successful sales functions are led by experienced managers that understand that the sales department they manage serves two customers; the internal customer and the external customer.

 

WHAT DO INTERNAL CUSTOMERS NEED FROM SALES?

At the highest level, in the interests of helping to drive sales, internal customers need QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL. 

  1. The first thing internal customers need is high QUALITY reports and at least one of the reasons they need those reports is so that they know how they can help sales.
  2. Another key thing they need is ACCURACY in forecasting so that they can manage the business, recruit staff, and allocate resources to the right campaigns at the right time.
  3. They also want to see evidence of RIGOUR in the sales process. They don’t need to be operationally-led but they do need to manage risk and be confident that they can deliver (and make profit on) what is sold.  It is perfectly reasonable therefore that those internal customers should expect the sales function to follow internal governance procedures that protect the company from risk.
  4. Finally, they need sales to be in CONTROL; thinking ahead; providing internal customers with as much advanced notice as possible for them to be able to release resources with minimal impact on other projects.

 

WHAT DO EXTERNAL CUSTOMERS NEED FROM SALES?

Just like internal customers, external customers need the sales function to demonstrate QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL.  Interestingly, external customers want very similar things.  They actually want to be sold to; not crassly, but professionally.  They need a competition for their business, which can only come from credible proposals submitted by credible suppliers.  In other words, they too are looking for QUALITY.  They want that but first and foremost they want you to have listened to them, understood them and proposed products and services that address their needs.  They need you to demonstrate ACCURACY in replaying both their business and personal needs.  Of course, they want you to have complied with their procedures.  Indeed, for government bids, if you don’t you will be out. 

 

And why shouldn’t they?  If you can’t do what they want during the buying process, what chance have they got after it?  They expect you to demonstrate the same RIGOUR that your internal customer needs.  Finally, they want to see that you are in CONTROL.  Never ask for an extension for a bid.  Do what you say you will do.  Do it when you say you will do it. Exceed their expectations if you really want to win

 

WHY FOCUS ON QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR AND CONTROL (QARC)?  By managing QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL we are focusing on the future.  Monitoring the performance of individuals is no more that looking at the past.  By focusing on QARC we are focusing not on performance (which is about the past and therefore pointless) but on the fundamental factors that drive performance.  The great thing about that is that we are influencing the future. 

 

If we meet the needs of internal customers, we retain internal support and the company works together to present its propositions in the best possible light.  Of course, if we meet the needs of external customers too, we end up on the client’s shortlist and stand a real chance of winning new business.  The slight downside is that QARC is a model of interdependent parts and failing to focus on any one component means the whole thing breaks down.  So how might we use it to baseline sales effectiveness and drive sustainable improvement?

 

A SIMPLE APPROACH TO BASELINING EFFECTIVENESS.  Even at the highest level, breaking down sales effectiveness in to the 4 components of QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL can be enlightening and provide a focus for change.  There are too many subjective opinions about sales and even a simple model can help to focus on areas for change.

 

Performance Quest strongly recommends that INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL improvement is a parallel process.  Far too many times we have seen not only a focus on the wrong thing (like CONTROL rather than QUALITY) but also a heavy focus on INTERNAL improvement at the expense of time and energy being spent on improving EXTERNAL effectiveness.  But, actually, whether we’re trying to better satisfy our INTERNAL or our EXTERNAL customers we need even more detail to drive improvement.

 

DRIVING CHANGE.  To drive sales effectiveness, we need do no more than baseline where we are today and then improve.  The problem is that many organisations are not rigorous enough in how they define what excellence looks like.  Each has to be based on metrics that are indisputable by anyone in the organisation.  And the definitions have to be created for QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL.  Many companies buy in standard sales processes that do not work and certainly do not differentiate.  In doing so they go down a path of monitoring sales performance, rather than managing sales effectiveness.

 

Performance Quest offers an alternative, and in our view better, approach.  To drive sales effectiveness across the organisation we need to move away from the subjective to objective measurement and unambiguous definitions based on metrics that are indisputable.  It can be done and will deliverable sustainable improvement.

 

SUMMARY·

  • Managing sales effectiveness is far better than managing sales performance
  • Subjective opinions about sales performance are unhelpful
  • Sales functions must recognise both internal and external customers
  • Both customer groups need to be satisfied to succeed
  • Baselining is required before measurable improvement can be made
  • Baselining should be based on metrics and SMART objectives