Today's post is by Dave Kurlan, founder and CEO of Objective Management Group Inc. and Kurlan & Associates, and author of Mindless Selling and Baseline Selling: How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball. Hear him speak on March 10 at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia.
Companies reinvent themselves all the time. You don’t have to look much further than AT&T, IBM, and NCR to recognize that none of these companies make and sell anything resembling what they made and sold just 40 years ago.
People reinvent themselves too. Just review some of the profiles in your LinkedIn network, and you’re certain to see people doing something completely different from what they were doing 10 years ago.
For some reason, sales forces tend to fall behind in the reinvention department. There are so many experts producing so much content: blogs, videos, newsletters, and e-books. Yet most sales leaders, sales managers, and salespeople are often the last to know that things have changed. Despite the fact that the sales profession has changed significantly in just the last six years, I’m still seeing sales forces selling as if they were stuck in a time warp hardwired to 1975.
Sales transformation does not require a complete sales-force makeover. In most cases, only a few changes may be needed to achieve greater effort, efficiency, effectiveness, and results. Here are just six areas in which transformation should be a consideration:
1) Infrastructure. An optimized, milestone-centric sales process will shorten the sales cycle and improve conversion and win rates. Metrics, aligned with milestones and tweaked for desired goals, provide more predictive information, allowing for coaching and correction.
2) Architecture. A reworking of the ratio between sales managers and salespeople will often yield tremendous results. In some industries, moving outside salespeople to the inside significantly decreases costs, allows for a huge increase in conversations and activity, and yields an increase in revenue and profit.
3) Talent Management. An improved sales-recruiting process, creative sourcing, accurate and predictive sales assessments, applicant tracking, and improved interviewing skills and better-defined selection criteria will significantly improve the quality, ramp-up, contribution, success, and tenure of new salespeople.
4) Enablement. Selecting the most sales-friendly and effective tools over the most popular and fashionable tools will help A) fill the pipeline and keep it filled, B) integrate the sales process, and C) make salespeople more efficient. A more consultative methodology will lead to better differentiation from your competition, and getting your sales model right will allow for scaling.
5) Sales Management. An increased emphasis on coaching – specifically the time spent and quality of the coaching conversation – can increase sales by nearly 30 percent. Nothing has as great an impact on sales effectiveness!
6) Human Capital. An emphasis on sales skills and sales DNA will improve the culture of your sales force. The Boston Red Sox, 2013 World Series Champions, taught us about the power of intangibles and its impact on culture. When everyone is committed to the goal, share a rallying cry, and pull for each other, great things happen.
It’s likely that these points all make sense to you. As a matter of fact, you may even think that you are already doing these things – but that’s the biggest trap for sales leaders. They think they’ve got it right when, in reality, not much has changed. Most leaders find it helpful to have an expert review what they’re doing to get third-party confirmation that they do – or don’t – have it right.
At the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 10, I’ll be elaborating on these six areas and helping you ask the right questions to determine whether or not your sales force needs to undergo a sales transformation.