Sales Performance Improvement
Achieving Top Line Growth depends on excelling at the numerous components that make up successful sales execution. It requires the full support of all functional areas of the company. We apply our deep expertise in driving sales performance improvement to ensure that your people, processes, and infrastructure are all aligned to support aggressive revenue targets for your company.
Improving Your Sales Ecosystem- How We Get Started
We first talk with executive management to review your company’s strategy, operating plan, and your sense of where the critical needs lie. Understanding your budget and timetable is essential so we can develop an approach that is consistent with these.
We need to understand exactly what the on the ground challenges and issues are; accordingly, we meet with executive management, department heads, VPs/Directors of Sales, and multiple sales reps. The depth and breadth of the discussions deliver a thorough understanding of the various components of the sales ecosystem: supporting processes, historical reports, information systems, and sales collateral. All contributing elements are considered in order to build an integrated sales performance improvement plan.
Key components of the Sales Performance Improvement Plan include:
- Effective Sales Coverage Model
- Effective and Consistent Sales Process
- Sales Forecasting & Pipeline Management
- Incentive Structure, Compensation & Recognition
- Strategic Sales & Management Training
- Strategic Account Management
- Sales Information Systems
Effective Sales Coverage Model (Direct/Indirect)
We create sales coverage models that ensure your customers and prospects are communicated to and supported through the most cost effective sales channel. Those include direct (inside, outside, and the web), and indirect (e.g., value added resellers, distributors, systems integrators, OEM’s, and independent specialty vendors). We identify and qualify your portfolio offerings in context with the most suitable and cost effective channel coverage team. We ensure the sales force is physically and organizationally aligned within the company and your customers. We ensure that channel representatives are in alignment with their respective responsibilities and their counter-parts within the extended sales organization.
Message to CEOs and Business Owners
As founders and executive management, you know from hard-earned experience how your products and services should be sold. You’ve lived the company’s story and your history and deep industry knowledge make you extremely credible when delivering your message. Your title affords you a level of customer access normally unattainable by the typical sales rep. This access and credibility enhances your ability to effectively influence and make the sale. Often, this forms the opinion that your approach should be the standard for selling the company and its products (vision, product positioning, and the honed, on-point sales conversation to go along with them).
But you cannot be cloned. You are unique. So how is the vision, positioning and sales conversation turned into a sales process the general sales force will follow in order to resonate with your customers, prospects, and indirect sales channels? Ideally, everyone in the sales value chain must be shown and convinced of the products’ and services’ value, and what steps are necessary to justify the investment, to complete the sale.
Stanton Associates can translate this knowledge into a sales process, supported by executive management. We communicate it to the sales team, and establish it as the standard operating procedure against which all salespeople will be measured.
Effective and Consistent Sales Process
In order for your sales people to gain “trusted advisor” status, they must be consultative (vs. product centric) in their interaction and support of prospective customers needs. Whether you are selling complex products involving multiple stakeholders over a period of several months or end-user consumer products, we ensure your sales process is consultative and in alignment with your customers’ buying and decision making processes.
We review the various stages of the sales process including initial contact, qualification, needs analysis, proof of concept, business justification, selection, implementation, training and support. We optimize the process not only to best support revenue growth, but also to be certain your sales process itself differentiates your company’s quality and value.
In addition, our clients find that the introduction of sales process improvements has a dramatic impact on revenue forecasting accuracy and predictability.
Sales Forecasting & Pipeline Management
Sales forecasting is management’s primary tool for predicting the volume of attainable sales. The whole budget process hinges on an accurate, timely sales forecast.
Sales forecasting is also a self-assessment tool for a company. You have to keep taking the pulse of your company to know how healthy it is. An accurate sales forecast can make the difference between just surviving (or not) and being highly successful in business.
We work with your team to develop an accurate and efficient process for developing a reliable sales forecast. Opportunities in the forecast are broken down by various stages of the sales process to allow for optimal visibility and management of the sales pipeline.
Incentive Structure, Compensation & Recognition
Compensation drives behavior, so it is imperative to have clearly defined, fair, and equitable goals for each member of the sales team. We recommend and develop comp plans focused on production and collaboration, transparently addressing resolutions to potential conflicts. For example, in order to reduce, if not eliminate channel conflict between direct and indirect selling partners, we construct comp plans that reward multiple selling groups to collaborate and support one another.
The specific drivers of Top Line Growth for your business are considered to establish the right balance between focusing on increasing sales to existing customers and in existing markets versus driving new business and/or entering new markets.
Your incentive program should reward both quantitative and qualitative results. It should strengthen longer-term behavior and ownership qualities in your people. Every sales person needs to be motivated and committed to a sustainable sales plan that reflects today’s challenges and opportunities for growth.
Additionally we assess your “human capital” to determine whether you have the best available people in the right jobs, doing the right things. We make sure you have processes in place to continually raise the bar of your sales force and evaluate their effectiveness. We work with you on the simple but often overlooked elements of recognition, and create ongoing, inexpensive recognition items that foster a competitive, hard working, fun and exciting company for which everyone enjoys working.
What benefits can you expect with an effective sales forecasting system?
- Enhanced cash flow
- In-depth knowledge of customers and the products they order
- Increased customer retention
- The ability to plan for production and capacity
- Knowing when and how much to buy
- The ability to identify the pattern or trend of sales
- Ability to determine the expected return on investment in equipment and other items
- Greater access to finance at superior rates and terms
- Reduction in expenses (including selling expenses)
- A HIGHER VALUATION FOR YOUR COMPANY
Strategic Sales & Management Training
Plans and processes are only valuable if accompanied by training. We orchestrate and lead sales and sales management training to get everyone coordinated and performing. With larger sales teams, we work with certified training partners, employing customer-centric, solution-selling training programs in compliance with our internal training practices. Training is not a one-time event. We determine the right form, frequency, and reinforcement for all parties involved, enabling knowledge transfer, teamwork and sharing of best practices on a recurring basis.
By calculating and communicating the features, benefits and financial value of your products/services for your customers, your sales team will be able to justify their proposals with facts and conviction. We focus on defining these important variables. We then train your salespeople on how to communicate the true value, ROI, and total cost of ownership of a customer’s purchase relative to the customer’s requirements and “hidden costs,” such as the financial impact of buying from a competitor and receiving poor quality products or lack of after sales support.
Strategic Account Management (SAM)
To consistently drive Top Line Growth, it is imperative to proactively define and manage both existing and prospective strategic accounts. We implement a process to create an account penetration strategy for each major prospect and client. A strategic account plan identifies relevant company attributes, key players, and action steps for sales success. Implementing a comprehensive Strategic Account Management approach requires a long-term focus and multi-functional capabilities. Some restructuring of the sales organization may be required. Processes and systems must be established for strategic account communications, knowledge management, and tracking of relationship metrics.
What is a Strategic Account?
There are many definitions, but we mean those accounts that are so important to the company (usually because of their significant current or expected share of total revenue) that they are managed separately from the organization’s traditional sales channels usually by account managers who have total responsibility for the sales, business processes, value proposition, and customer satisfaction
Sales Information Systems (Sales Force Automation & Customer Relationship Management)
Robust Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are mandatory to compete in today’s marketplace. The entire process of customer acquisition, maintenance, support and ongoing relationship development are managed, and significantly enhanced through, effective use of these tools. After determining the needs for sales, service and other key departments, we assess your current sales information systems and how effectively they are used to support all customer contact and relationship management. If it is necessary, with a powerful and compelling ROI, we can help select and implement an overarching tool-set, provide necessary training, and instill a process for success. With effective SFA and CRM usage, information is available to enable management to hold everyone accountable, track progress against goals, and identify both opportunities and obstacles on a real-time basis.
Additionally, reporting tools help determine who is your most profitable customer, reveal successful lead sources, project forecasted revenue or future trends, detect neglected leads, watch opportunities in the pipeline, anticipate future growth, and many other critical business issues. In addition, you can track, analyze, and measure your marketing campaigns as well to determine things like cost per lead, cost per opportunity, numbers of sales, total amount sold per campaign and more. See Financial Analysis and Discipline for further discussion.
Pulling it all together
Achieving sustainable sales performance and repeat business is predicated on an integrated business ecosystem built around customer needs and satisfaction. Customer satisfaction incorporates the entire product and/or service feature set, total cost of ownership, and all of the inherent elements of brand, trust, and value. Sales teams and their well-crafted messages and problem solving skills are dependent upon the entire go-to-market strategy, providing a unified voice of value and price to the customer.