Early Autumn should be the time of the year when executives begin to worry about next year’s performance and to contemplate changes that can improve their chances of success. Many put this off until it’s closer to year-end and should have been thinking about this much sooner. The easiest target is usually the sales organization, and many companies decide that they just need to “upgrade their sales force with real rainmakers.” It sounds pretty easy and compelling. Just go recruit some great salespeople, and suddenly things will be growing again. Forget the product issues and discounted pricing problems. Customer service is overrated anyway. Marketing has generated virtually no interest, and the sales model is all wrong.
Just hire some great salespeople and growth will return. Not likely. Even sales superstars will not succeed in an environment that can’t support them.
The truth is that when it comes to driving sustainable sales force effectiveness, there is a lot of heavy lifting that needs to happen in order for the rainmakers to make rain:
- Company-wide understanding of why your customers do business with you. What is it they value? What makes you different and unique? How do they incorporate you into their overall strategic objectives? Do the other areas of the business understand these things, and are they in alignment with the views of the sales force?
- Disciplined processes for how the sales force finds new opportunities, develops them, turns them into customers, and then manages these important new clients moving forward. This can’t be left to chance or to the individual whims of each and every salesperson. In fact, until the company decides on what they want a successful sales call to actually look and feel like, it is really impossible to figure out if a new sales hot shot would even be the right person for the job.
- Clear definition of the role of sales management. What is their role in development? What is the value of leadership skills? Do they understand how to execute the company strategy?
- Territory planning, incentive systems, technology enablement, and alignment with marketing.
Top salespeople perform best when they have a strong infrastructure to support them. All of the above items are components of a successful company’s selling system, and they are all interdependent on each other. Tweak one area, and it will affect all of the other areas. So, while I continue to hear about the necessity to muscle-build sales organizations, I want to continue to urge executives to build a strong foundation that helps the rainmakers win. Driving consistent performance in a sales organization is a lot more complicated than just hiring new salespeople.
Louis Partenza is a sales and business consultant and partner of Activate Group Inc, based in Miami, Florida. Activate Group brings science to the art of selling. We help you develop the strategy, implement a practical process and build sales skills to rise to the top of your game, hit your numbers and make quota. We help sales organizations drive revenue, predictability, operational efficiency and superior performance. Learn more about how we can help.