In today’s hyper-competitive IT marketplace, the key to success lies in sales performance at the individual and organizational levels. Despite the fact that most sales organizations understand this at a fundamental level, they do not know how to create a successful sales organization from the ground up. Theories and frameworks abound, but as a consultant, I’ve discovered that some sales leaders are not even aware of them nor how they can benefit their employees and organizations.
To help IT solutions providers of all sizes, we have constructed a framework to help them analyze what they have and formulate what they need to create great sales performance. My team has identified approximately 15-20 factors that must be analyzed in order to determine where an organization can improve upon its sales performance. These factors are categorized into four broad groups, and we drill down into each group to uncover strengths and areas for improvement:
People – This starts with the recruiting and selection process, which are areas that many companies underestimate in terms of importance to their overall success. Organizations must first recruit the best people for the job, so we help them understand what types of people they need and then put a framework around recruiting. When we look at these practices, we also look at whether they are using effective personality analysis tools. Investing in one of the many tools available today is a great first step for most companies. Once we have looked at recruiting, we move on to areas such as onboarding, compensation and motivation, which also are important to creating a successful sales team.
Process – The first step is to determine whether there is a sales process in place. Many organizations don’t define the series of steps their sales teams must take when approaching customers. Comstor’s Executive Relevance Selling (ERS) is a selling methodology that its partners use to improve the quality of their executive conversations and make IT solutions more intriguing and engaging to executives. Part of the Comstor EDGE program, ERS is a great example of a tool that I advise channel sales people to adopt. It is highly effective and easy to adopt, assess and scale.
Technology – Most organizations use CRM and Salesforce.com, but this is a burgeoning field. There are a host of other technologies that an organization should have a first level of understanding about, because they could prove helpful. Finding the right sales tool is important because it could not only improve efficiencies, but also reduce the cost of sales for companies.
Execution/Programs—Management of the sales process on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis falls under execution or sales programs. It includes things like weekly calls, monthly meetings, sales reporting and collaboration between sales people. Once we determine whether the sales organization is executing on its sales processes and using supporting technology, we bring total quality improvement to help companies understand how to increase productivity and benefit. If we determine, for example, that the sales team isn’t doing a very good job of implementing a formalized sales process, then we provide best practices for them to focus on for an extended period of time. As part of this step, we help organizations formalize their goals, objectives and initiatives into an action plan.
Drilling down with a company to determine if it has and is implementing a sales framework is the first step. The next step is understanding its people, processes, sales technology and execution and creating action plans around them to help build a sales team that will serve the company well today and tomorrow.
Brian Higgins is the founder of the Brian Higgins Group, a business development and sales performance consultancy. He is a dynamic business leader with a proven record of success in executing business growth strategies for both early stage and well-established technology companies.