Today’s most successful sales leaders are taking a more scientific approach. Savvy managers are reshaping their tactics in response to changing markets. They are reaching out to new customers in innovative ways. And they are increasing productivity by helping the sales executives they already have make the most of their skills and resources.
Leaders who take a scientific approach to sales force effectiveness have learned to use four levers to boost their sales productivity in a predictable and manageable way. First, they systematically target their companies’ offerings, matching the right products with the right customers. Second, they optimise the automation, tool and processes at their disposal, providing salespeople with the support they need to boost sales. Third, they analyse and manage their salespeople's performance, measuring both internal processes and results to determine where their teams’ strengths and weaknesses are. Fourth, they pay close attention to sales force deployment - how well sales, support, marketing and delivery resources are matched to customers. These four levers can help sales leaders increase productivity across the board.
The overall effect of increasing the average sales per employee can be exponential; it means a company won’t have to rely on just a few talented individuals to stay competitive. This is especially important because finding and keeping star salespeople is more difficult than ever. What’s more, managers who optimise the sales forces they already have can see returns they never thought possible.
However, the war between sales and marketing is common in many companies. Marketing blames the sales force for its poor execution of a brilliant rollout plan. The sales team claims that marketing sets prices too high and uses too much of the budget, which instead should go toward paying the sales executives higher commissions. Sales tend to believe that marketers are out of touch with what’s really going on with customers. Marketing believes the sales force is too focused on individual customer experiences, insufficiently aware of the larger market, and blind to the future. In short, each group often undervalues the other’s contributions. This lack of alignment ends up hurting corporate performance. Yet when sales and marketing work well together, companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down and the cost of sales is lower.
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