Sales Organization: Problems, Challenges, and Potential

The science behind solving, developing and building a scalable predictable sales growth

In such never ending situations, the civil war, Israeli bombardments, economic and financial crisis, and today the Arab Spring,  our friends would back us up saying “maintaining your sales numbers would be good enough.” But ask thousands of entrepreneurs, general managers, sales managers about their sales problems and 90% will answer “If we could find or have good sales people, we’ll be rather in a very good position.”

They do understand that such complex situation exists in all times, countries and industries. They fall beyond our control. It is the wise who invest in such times, and it’s wise to act accordingly.On the other side, the latter problem “Difficulty in Hiring Good Salespeople” could be described as an iceberg. As Larry MacGirr, President of Pharmascience, mentioned  “Hiring the right people in sales is very challenging.

Unless you are very strategic, at best, you may be 50-50. Only one-ninth of the problem is above water. The shape of the underwater portion, the real challenges, can be difficult to judge by looking above the surface.

The truth lies in:
1. Finding good salespeople is difficult and sales job relies “partially” on the person behind sales, thus salespersons’ performance fluctuates in peaks and valleys.
2. There is a lot of root causes and hidden challenges below the surface that comes along in building, developing and maintaining both the individual and organizations’ sales scalable performance.

Combining Science and Art

Science is what Mark Roberge relied on when he took over the VP of sales for Hubspot. Coming from none sales management experience, he relied fully on his background as an MIT-trained engineer.He aided today in placing his company as the #33 Fastest Growing Company in America on the Inc. 500 List by relying on creating a system of hiring and development that relies on metrics and quantitative analysis. Imagine the combination.

Science in its simplest form, is a terminology recently frequently used when referring to any structured process. A process that would be used in taking decisions, building strategies, or even following steps and tasks  that will eventually lead to a visible “secured” outcome rather than relying only on our guts.

Below are some key important factors to mind:

1. Build a Laser-focused sales strategy: It is clear nowadays that a football team is required to follow a strategic strategy in order to beat his opponent, unlike the latter that resides on so many stars. Good managers, align their players, build the formation, and model along their winning strategy. Going through different opportunity loss analysis aided us to understand the potential behind eliminating different products and services. Such an exercise coupled with the proper disciplined execution of the set strategy had more than 68% increase in our clients’ sales figures within a 6 months period.

2. Design scientifically the Sales size and structure: Some believe they don’t have the luxury to implement a product specialist sales structure. Some believe that clients prefer to have a focal contact and this would enhance the up-selling process. Building different scientific analysis helped us to validate the best combined type for designing the sales structure and size accordingly. Such design not only had more than 53% increase on the sales figures compared to last year. It further aided us in the execution of the set action plan to reach the sales objectives faster.

3. Follow your clients continuously with the same process: Sales People ask themselves daily thousands of stuff that limit their performance. Do we follow up on the prospect today, tomorrow or later. Do we drop this prospect or keep persisting? Many companies would answer, “It depends on the hunch of the salesperson,he knows better his client.” With handful of sales people, it can seem like this is an adequate approach — it’s hard to see the variability. But analyzing enough leads and prospects continuously will draw a pattern of a process. Such pattern when refined and optimized with  on-ground sales insights, mapped and distributed to the sales people accordingly would then easily bridge the gap between rainmakers and the middle 70%. Studies shown that such development would increase sales by 200% even when rainmakers are in their bad days.

4. Train and Develop the sales people measurably: Surveys showed that most candidates are trained by being shadowed for few weeks with  one of the company’s top sales people. But this is not a teachable repeatable way to sell. Eventually this leaves the management with an only mean of motivating salespeople or firing the least productive and roll the dice in hiring newcomers. It is vital to build a measurable sales development program circulated around the understanding of selling and how to follow a structured selling approach. The program could extend beyond three months duration with extensive coaching and on-ground insights and visits. Its outcome is extremely significant.

5. Maintain the same sales productivity:
Instead of focusing on the sales quota,create a culture of rigorous self-analysis and review that help salespeople to focus on understanding their prospect management ratios. Get them to keep an eye on the objectives and milestones set for every step in their sales process. For ex: keep the sales team aligned in generating continuously the same number of leads, conduct the same quantity and quality of calls, maintain a fixed number of new meetings per week. Share these objective and milestones weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on the duration of your sales cycle. This would build a trend for every individual that he/she must then follow, and could draw the path for an accurate sales projection. There is magic when breaking down the sales process and its outcome into small wins.

Below is a study conducted by Accenture indicating the increase of efficiency for each of the factors when putting science into selling.

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