Is Your Sales Leader on Afterburner or in the Ejection Seat?

Is Your Sales Leader Failing?Several recent sales benchmark reports indicate that the current average tenure for a chief sales officer in complex B2B sales has fallen to between 16 and 22 months.  Even worse, that trend continues downward!  When you stop and consider the timelines to onboard and allow the new sales leader to become productive you realize some never even had the chance to be successful.

Is Your Sales Leader Failing or Are You Failing Your Sales Leader?

Your new sales leader is trying to learn company culture, fix sales process issues and manage the sales team.   Meanwhile, continuous pressure is applied to “make the number.”  Something has to slip so sales leaders often shift more and more time to working deals and less time on long term fixes like developing the sales team, recruiting to replace low performers, and addressing process issues.

The year progresses and should it appear the “number” is in jeopardy then short term strategies are often implemented to reduce expense to make the bottom line number.  Expense reductions often impact the sale organization in the form of headcount and resource cuts.

Now heading into the last quarter you start to wonder if you picked the wrong sales leader.  It’s possible you even begin the dreaded search for your next CSO.  As a CEO how can you end this revolving door process, bring continuity to your sales organization and achieve the results you and the Board expect?

Set an Ambitious Yet Reasonable First Year Plan

Prioritize all the organizational things your new sales leader must achieve in their first year, while also driving the team to make the number.  Make sure everyone agrees on both the structural and financial goals.  Here are a few to consider.

1. Assess the Sales Team and Review the Opportunity Pipeline

When a new leader comes into position most have to play cards already dealt to them.  The have a sales bench that may or may not be at full strength.  At best they may have a few Sales Rainmakers along with the average reps and low performers. The sales pipeline probably contains both qualified and (often) lots of unqualified opportunities.  All of which must be assessed to determine if a pipeline gap exists.

2. Optimize Sales Process and Lead Management

The sales leader must also quickly determine if sales processes are capable of supporting the required opportunity deal volume and velocity.  The sales leader must investigate if existing lead generation activities are sufficient to continuously provide the quantity of qualified leads needed to keep the sales organization fully loaded with sales-ready opportunities.

3. Integrate/Change the Company’s Sales Culture

New chief sales officer are often tasked with being a change agent.  A goal much easier said than done in many companies.   Organizational layers, complexity and politics have broken the backs of many otherwise very capable leaders and top executives.   It’s a delicate balance for a new executive to drive change without alienating too many of the people they also must count on to help make the changes a reality.

Success Takes Time

The above activities can’t happen in a few days (probably not even a few months), and by the time the new sales leader determines the investments needed for success they are possibly already into their second sales year.  When you consider that most complex B2B selling cycles are measured in months and quarters, you see why so many sales leaders appear to fail even when they are making the right moves.

How CEOs Can Raise the Odds for Sales Success

Assuming you have the right sales leader in place, make sure they have enough resources to achieve all your mutual goals (organizational and financial).   Companies needing to make a lot of change in a short amount of time often find success by engaging sales consulting resources.   Outside specialists with the right experience and tools can help the sales leader address structural and process problems while the CSO works on sales team development and winning new business.

Finding a sales consulting company that can help with your specific issues requires some research.   If you’re reading this post, you have found one of them.   If you want to talk about your unique sales challenges – or ask about what we have done to help other companies increase their sales effectiveness – we are always available.  Schedule a Sales Optimization Review or just drop us a note.

Sell ITO, BPO, Healthcare, or HRO Services? Outsourcing Headlines 9.28.11

Outsourcing Sales News3FORWARD’s Complimentary Weekly Bulletin of Outsourcing’s On-line Discussions and Updates.

Identify outsourcing sales triggers, connect with outsourcing industry leaders, spot trends and even chat with clients or prospects.  For outsourcing sales leaders, ITO sales, BPO sales, Analysts, Advisors and outsourcing consultants – these links are opportunities to engage your subject experts, showcase thought-leadership, link back to relevant blog posts and generate ideas for the future.

Industry-wide Outsourcing News

Why outsourcing is not always good for business

Outsourcing can be a major cost savings for many firms. Why do it yourself when you can hire others to do it more cheaply for you? Here are a few reasons to keep the source close to home.

THE INTERVIEW: Outsourcing boss tells of the ethos behind Mitie success
You don’t usually associate having fun with accountancy. But Ruby McGregor-Smith, 48, the energetic chief executive of outsourcing giant Mitie (pronounced ‘mighty’), is on a mission to disprove that idea.

Nearshoring Destinations Index Released by ThinkSolutions

ThinkSolutions, a management consulting firm with thought leadership in outsourcing, offshoring, and nearshoring, released its 2011 third quarter report of “The Best Nearshoring Destinations.”  The firm ranked 19 Latin American countries based on their appeal as outsourcing destinations, scoring the countries on 19 objective criteria in three categories: Financial Incentives, Business Environment, and Labor Force.

Outsourcing done right puts your customers front and centre

Focusing solely on price-based criteria when selecting outsourcing vendors inevitably leads to quality defined by numbers rather than the customer experience. However, when outsourcing becomes about a business partnership rather than simply a financial transaction, the foundation is mutual benefit and shared risk and reward, which creates more opportunities to drive measurable customer experience improvements.

Managing the outsourced supply chain – good decisions can’t be made without the right data

I recently read an article titled, Eight best practices for supply chain outsourcing. It explained how some companies have adopted these best practices while others have struggled. It boils down to outsourcing the right process to the right partner and establishing clear lines of communication.

Is a group of MPs focusing on outsourcing and shared services a waste of time?

Following the article I recently wrote about the new all-party parliamentary group set up to will look at how the public sector can get more out of outsourcing and shared services I have had quite a bit of reaction. Vanguard Group tries to encourage organisations to move away from the traditional command and control methods of implementing big IT projects from above. It is interested in “systems thinking” where the project planners learn what the users need at a systems level.

IT Outsourcing

H-1B, B-1 Visa Scrutiny Threatens IT Outsourcing Providers

IT outsourcing companies are starting to feel the pinch from increased U.S. government scrutiny of H-1B and other nonimmigrant visa programs. The latest investigation into misuse of the H-1B visa program comes from the Social Security Administration.

Thomas Cook and Accenture Expand Relationship with 10-Year Technology Consulting and Outsourcing Agreement

Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has been awarded a 10-year technology consulting and outsourcing contract by the Thomas Cook Group plc, which includes the transformation and management of the travel group’s technology infrastructure across Europe. The financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Ten IT outsourcing game changers from Gartner

I attended Gartner’s annual get together for the outsourcing community today and thought I would share with you the ten things or “game changers” in IT outsourcing, according to the analyst firm. I will expand on this in an analysis but here are the ten “game changers.”

Human Resource Outsourcing

RPO in APAC – a high-growth market

(Video) I recently joined my colleague Zachary Misko in discussions with local HR professionals at the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, China. As a group we discussed recruitment trends and technology, candidate behaviors as well as findings from our recent annual report on global Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). The overwhelming abundance of technology and tools challenges how HR leaders and recruiters work. Combined with A-level talent shortages across the region due to the ongoing economic resurgence, we are seeing increased familiarity and use of RPO in the APAC market.

When non-HR professionals do HR work

We’ve all heard the clich© that, “to some extent, every manager is a human resources manager.” In many ways, I believe that’s truer today than ever before. Human resources management truly is a management function. Where there’s an HR department, line managers can be said to have delegated some of their responsibilities to HR.

Outsourcing to private security contractors threatens HR

A UN panel Wednesday called for greater regulation of mercenaries and private military and security companies by both host and contributor countries to ensure respect for human rights and accountability for any abuses committed.

Business Process Outsourcing

Emerging economies drive BPO growth

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is gaining ground globally in HR, engineering design and research and development, particularly in developed economies like Australia, while emerging markets newer to the BPO area are adopting first-generation outsourcing like customer care, payroll processing and help desks.

APAC BPO market to reach revenues of $17.47 billion: Ovum

Asia-Pacific’s business process outsourcing (BPO) market will reach revenues of US$17.47 billion in 2015, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.3 per cent from the US$11.18 billion it hit in 2010, predicts Ovum in a new report.

Business Process Outsourcing: How to Negotiate for Success

Those who buy and provide outsourcing services have competing priorities and concerns when they engage in a deal. Buyers generally want to gain as much value for as little investment as possible, while providers typically seek to maximize profit, often through minimizing start-up expenses or maximizing the “per unit” price of their offerings. Further, both sides want to shift as much of the inherent outsourcing risk to the other party.

Procurement Outsourcing

10th Annual Procurement, Outsourcing & Vendor Management Forum

ProcureLive Conference is a platform to discuss insights and share new perspectives on common challenges and opportunities with professionals and decision-makers from the procurement and supply chains, including cross-functional collaborators and associated industry stakeholders. With the conference theme of “Transformation in Procurement Chain Management: A Compelling Case for eProcurement”, expect thought-provoking discussions on demystifying myths, examining the challenges and exploring winning best practices on eProcurement, from strategy to implementation.

Indirect procurement is ‘a sexy place to be’

This is the view of Rachael Stormonth, senior vice president at outsourcing analyst NelsonHall, who made her comments during a webinar hosted by procurement outsourcing provider buyingTeam.  The online presentation examined the results of a survey of 120 CFOs and CPOs. Only 47 per cent of those polled expressed high satisfaction with the management of indirect spend in their organisation.

Payroll Outsourcing

HR and Payroll Software Revenue Will Rise to $4B by 2016

Over the next five years, revenue for the human resources and payroll software industry is expected to increase to $4.0 billion, according to a new study. The revenue increase will be due in large part to benefits from increasing private investment in computers and software, and the further adoption of the Software as a Service business model, according to independent market researcher IBISWorld.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing: Nine Questions to Ask Before Casting Your Servers Aside

Let’s cut to the chase: businesses are looking for efficiency and economy everywhere they can get it, and cloud computing almost seems too good to be true. Who wouldn’t want access to well-tested, well-crafted services, managed by skilled technicians, and be charged only by usage? Who doesn’t want to become an online, tech-savvy operation? These are all good, but with the promises (and hype) of cloud come the realities — concerns about security, as well as availability of cloud service providers.

Cloud computing explained

(Video) Confused about the term “Cloud Computing”? Want to be “with the times” when you talk about new technology buzzwords? This video boils down a section of Cloud Computing, that of Cloud Infrastructure and Cloud Hosting in a way that everyone can understand!

Is Your Key to the Cloud Kingdom? The reality of as seen through the eyes of a partner has been at the vanguard of cloud computing, and is one of the leading cloud platforms today. If you’re an Independent Software vendor (ISV), provides a great opportunity to build a cloud app or a cloud business, without having to re-create your own cloud infrastructure.  However, most ISVs — established and start-up — find it extremely challenging to build a business in the cloud. After spending all the effort and investors’ cash, many do not see the return on investment. Why?

A new way of working boosts productivity in the City of Barcelona

The city of Barcelona in Spain serves more than 1.6 million inhabitants and draws about 6.5 million visitors each year. Many citizens work remotely outside of the office, and because of the city’s reputation for IT excellence, the city of Barcelona draws thousands of business people who come to attend professional conferences each year.

Healthcare & Outsourcing

Race to Icd-10 in Healthcare Outsourcing

Healthcare organizations are operating a race from time to accomplish ICD-10 compliance in healthcare billing outsourcing, and some outsourcing firms are revving up their offerings to guarantee that they’ll be there to meet the demand of firms looking to outsource conversion.

Global Healthcare Outsourcing Can Be Beneficial For Your Business

Outsourcing has become an indispensable part of organizations who strive for quality outputs. It has made the work environment flexible in many aspects. Earlier domestic outsourcing was hugely popular but now the trend of global outsourcing is catching up as well. Experts are scattered all across the globe and not just within a country, keeping this thing in mind organizations are connecting with service providers who offer their expertise irrespective of their location; this is the concept of global outsourcing. The healthcare sector can hugely benefit from this type of outsourcing below are the reasons why.

Bayer, union at odds over outsourcing promised jobs

The union representing some 500 Bayer employees in California is playing hardball with the German drugmaker. Union officials are suggesting the workers may cancel the three-year-old agreement between the two unless Bayer protects jobs from being outsourced.

Legal Processing Outsourcing

Offshore legal process outsourcing

(Slide presentation) Traditional law firms are in real danger of becoming extinct. The rising competitive pressures from Internet based providers of legal services, legal project outsourcing companies, ediscovery services and other forms of non traditional law firms are placing the traditional model of a law firm in mortal jeopardy. This is far from a vague Nostradamus prophecy. Rather thoughtful pundits, who have a remarkable record of perfect prescience have actually put an expiration date on the traditional law firm: Firms have a mere five years to make radical changes or risk extinction.

Lawyers: Use alternative fee arrangements to build your client base

As the legal profession continues to change – with price competition, legal process outsourcing and on-line portals providing a host of competitively priced legal services for both individuals as well as corporate purchasers of legal services globally — law firm management, legal practice group leaders and individual practitioners – should look seriously at alternative billing options when seeking to secure new clients.

LPO momentum in UK featured on Bloomberg TV in India

(Video) A flurry of recent announcements by large UK law firms adopting legal process outsourcing (LPO) has gotten the attention of Bloomberg UTV, a Bloomberg Television Network channel in India. A recent UTV Business 360 news program reviews the LPO trend and features interviews with several industry experts including Integreon’s Lokendra Tomar, COO for Asia-Pacific.

(3FORWARD does not endorse, support, seek nor receive funds from any of these sites, companies or individuals.   We take all efforts to ensure quality destinations, however as these are sites completely independent of 3FORWARD we are not responsible for their content or any other visible or technical elements present on these locations.)

Measuring Sales Success – Do You Know Your KPIs?

Sales Key Performance IndicatorsSales Key Performance Indicators – Numbers to Live By

Running any business effectively requires good decision-making ground in good management information.  This is especially true when measuring the performance of your sales organization.  Surprisingly, many companies still don’t take the time to understand what sales key performance indicators (KPIs) they should track and how often.  They end up relying on a few simple metrics such a pipeline size, number of sales calls, or sales cycle time to manage their business and then become surprised and alarmed as their sale year progresses and they fall behind on their sales quota.

Understanding the leading and lagging indicators important to your sales model will help you determine actions needed to achieve your selling goals. There could be several key KPI’s depending on your sales model, but at a macro level every company has these basic functions that need to be measured and managed.

The Basic Set of Sales Key Performance Indicators

  • Quantity of leads needed in your sales funnel
  • Conversion rate of leads to qualified prospects
  • Close rate of qualified leads
  • Revenue conversion rate on closed deals
  • Average sales cycle time

Quantity of Leads

Ask people on your sales team for the definition of a lead and you will likely get a different answer from each of them. Simply stated a lead is an individual that can buy (or influence the decision to buy) your product or service.  Once you determine the percentage of leads that can be converted into qualified prospects – and your closing rate on those leads – you can then determine the actual quantity of leads you need to be working ‘above your sales funnel.’

Try 3FORWARD’s Do I Have Enough Leads Calculator to lock down these percentages.

Conversion rate of leads to qualified prospects

Understanding the conversion progression of a lead to a qualified prospect is an important factor in understanding the overall size of your lead database.  A low conversion rate means that you will need a large prospect universe.  In some businesses the lead conversion rates can be improved by more focused prospect segmentation but in others the conversion rate will remain flat.

Even if a lead becomes qualified there may be factors that preclude you from pursuing the opportunity, such as your firm is considered to be to small, geographic misalignment, portfolio weakness, etc.  The next metric to track is conversion of qualified leads into opportunities bid or worked. These deals become your qualified pipeline.

Close rate of qualified leads

This calculation is usually measured as total wins divided by opportunities bid, (also called a ‘bid/win rate’).  This should be the easiest metric to track but may be deceiving based on the way you categorize “no-decision ” opportunities. It’s best to remove no-decision opportunities from the calculation, as many of these opportunities may have been poorly qualified by inside or outside sales.  (If you do leave them in, remain consistent and always count them).

Often the quickest way to raise win rates is to not bid poorly qualified or unqualified opportunities.  This can be hard to enforce but can be improved with a robust qualification process.  After removing no decisions it’s a sound practice to calculate closing rates on RFP’s against the closing rates on non-RFP opportunities, the numbers may be surprising.   Also consider doing the same for clients versus new logos.

Revenue conversion rates on closed deals

Another metric worth tracking is revenue conversion. Many companies sell services or products that are delivered over periods of a year or longer. It’s a good idea to track whether (on average) the revenue received is more or less than originally expected. If you convert more than 100% of revenue expected you have a built in buffer to allow for unexpected erosion. If you traditionally convert less than 100% of revenue expected you should increase your lead funnel size to allow for the shortfall.

Consider the following example for a company with these KPI’s.

Sales Quota                           $1M

Average Deal Size                $125K

Close Rate                             35%

Leads needed in sales funnel                                  8,000

Opportunities identified (8%)                                640

Opportunities initially qualified (20%)                 128

Opportunities bid (20%)                                          26

Opportunities won (35%)                                        9

Quota attainment based on above metrics          112%

As you can see changes in conversion rates can have significant impact on several categories.

Average sale cycle time

Tracking you average sales cycle time is important for two reasons. First it shows whether you have enough qualified prospects in your current pipeline to meet your quota based on business already sold and time remaining in your plan year. It can also indicate when qualified opportunities begin to age and become less qualified and likely to close.

As a general rule, opportunities that age more than 150% of your average sales cycle time should be removed from a qualified status unless there are verifiable extenuating circumstances. If your sales cycle is 6 months a deal that ages to 9 months or more should be removed from the pipeline.

It’s often said that what gets measured gets done.   KPI’s must be meaningful, measurable and goal oriented. Take the time to start a basic sales KPI program and refine it as you become comfortable with the process.

Want to talk sales metrics with a 3FORWARD partner? Schedule a Sales Optimization Review with us here.

The Fundamentals of B2B Sales Territory Planning

All sales territories should be created equally

Designing sales territories is not a simple task but it’s an important part of setting sales strategy. It requires an accurate analysis of market potential and the required manpower to service that territory fully. Designing sales territories that offer each sales professional a target rich environment is important, but so is maximizing sales coverage at the lowest possible cost of sales.

The Goal of Sales Territory Planning

Striking the right balance between sales coverage and cost of sales is critical. It’s a good practice to plot all of your primary account targets on a map or grid.  This gives you a very clear visual understanding of where your best prospects are from a density perspective.  Color-coding the prospects to distinguish them by size or other important criteria will give you even more insight into each territory’s possibilities.

This visual approach allows you to begin the first process of logical target grouping. (There are several free and fee based territory-mapping software products that can assist in this effort.)

What Territory Mapping Reveals

Two territories may have the same number of target accounts but the sales effort needed to service each territory may differ considerable due to unique territory sales strategies.  As an example, let’s say you have a territory with existing accounts that sales must support.  You must determine how much account management time will be required to maintain and grow those accounts, then decide if enough existing sales capacity remains to develop new logos.  If not, that territory may need to be redrawn or resourced differently.

As you see, work levels may be vastly different for territories that are mainly focused on new logo acquisitions compared to those with base accounts.  Only after assessing potential workload in a given territory you can establish the right sales skillsets and headcount needed to service each market effectively. This process may cause you to shift some sale responsibilities form one territory to another for proper load balancing or you might have a mix of hunters and farmers for the optimum coverage model.

The Benefits of Sales Territory Planning

  • Lower cost for travel and improvements in other efficiency related metrics
  • Improved availability for prospect “face time”
  • Better alignment between prospect and client needs and sales specialization
  • More precise performance metrics for your sales dashboard
  • More motivated sales reps

Taking the time to build quality sale territories pays off in the short – and long term – by putting the right resources in the right place at the right time.  Neglecting to do effective territory planning can shortchange your firm and cause you to miss your sales plan.  Don’t risk losing prospects OR your rainmakers because you didn’t take the time to do your planning!

Need some help?  Give us a call and we can share best-practices and practical experiences we have had in helping B2B sales leaders design their sales territories.

12 Steps to Effective Target Account Planning

Sales Plans 

Are Target Account Plans a Critical Sales Success Factor, You Bet They Are!

Sales teams today cannot afford to spend valuable time and resources pursuing mass markets or poorly selected segments.  Finding your firm’s perfect prospect is a critical market segmentation exercise that must be done at least annually.  Once the segmentation process is complete the next step is to remove those target accounts that have needs outside of your current portfolio or have a existing supplier relationships that limit the near and medium term sales potential.

Selecting the wrong accounts can cost millions in terms of selling costs and opportunities lost.

Now you have a prioritized target account list.  The next step is to implement a target account planning process with your sales teams to ensure a consistent approach and to gain selling momentum more quickly.  The account planning process also provides a structured process for the entire sales team to create account development strategies that can be shared during planning and executive team reviews.

Below is an account planning process roadmap that can be used as a starting point by most companies.  It should work equally well for companies selling either products or services.  We also include some examples of possible inputs.

  • Company overview
    • Revenue
    • Their strengths and weaknesses within their sector
    • Business unit structure
  • Industry trends and drivers
    • Is their industry growing or mature
    • Unfriendly regulatory environment
    • Increased foreign competition
  • Operating structure
    • Centralized or de-centralized decision making/purchasing
  • Key executives and background
    • Former companies
    • University affiliations
    • Non-profit affiliations
  • Strategic business imperatives
    • Lower costs
    • Managing regulatory compliance
    • Increase market share
  • Competitive landscape
    • Current suppliers of competing products/services
    • $ size of available landscape/spend
  • Environment impacting current spend rates
    • Need to reduce cost
    • Need to increase sales pipeline
    • Need to increase market share
  • Current relationship status
    • Current customer – are they happy
    • Past customer – why did they leave?
    • Any active sales pipeline?
  • Account relationship map
    • Any alignment between executive teams?
    • Any executive relationships from prior positions that can be leveraged?
  • SWOT Analysis
    • Your strengths
    • Your weaknesses
    • Your opportunities
    • Possible threats to you
  • Account level strategic objectives
    • Establish initial contact/dialogue
    • Establish executive-to-executive dialogue
    • Develop an active sales pipeline
  • Account plan initiatives
    • Establish a proactive education process
    • Provide capabilities overawe
    • Conduct center tours
  • 90 day meeting plan
    • Should be self explanatory

There are 12 key elements to a quality target account plan.  While the inputs will vary from company to company not performing one or more of these steps can waste valuable selling time and resources if you end up targeting companies that are a poor fit.  Account planning can provide you and your executive team the road map you need to stay on the right course to sales success.

Account Planning Resources

Try 3FORWARD’s complimentary template for a ready to use account plan framework.  It’s a fully editable PowerPoint file so you can make adjustments based on your sales process and type of targeted relationship.

Individualize Outsourcing Sales Training for Your Top Guns

Sales Training for Your Top GunsNavy Fighter Pilots and Outsourcing Sales professional have one thing in common, the need for continuous training.

A naval fighter pilot averages between 200-300 hours of actual flight time each year.  This does not seem like a lot of time considering there is 2080 plus work hours in a normal working year.  What do they do with the other 1780 hours; they train!

There are actually several parallels between navy pilots and outsourcing sales professionals.  In non-combat situations, a navy pilot spends time in training perfecting his flying skills under different conditions. Ongoing training is critical to ensure that a Navy pilot is always at the top of their game. They are after all in charge of a $55M piece of equipment and have the responsibility for the safety and welfare of many people.

Outsourcing sales execs are managing the pursuit outsourcing contracts that could be worth several hundred million dollars each.  A fairly similar financial responsibility to taking care of a $55M aircraft.  Navy pilots are responsible for protecting the well being of their country and citizens. Outsourcing sales professionals are responsible for the care and welfare of their company and corporate citizens, a responsibility that true professionals never take lightly.

How NOT to Do Professional Sales Training

Sales training is a budget and time decision for outsourcing companies. Too often training is an afterthought – sometimes only factored into the annual sales kick off and even then it may only involve a token half-day “filler” session.  Someone decides that since all the sales professional are together for kick off now is the perfect time to throw a sales training session at them.  The truth is unless that training is for a new product/service rollout – or maybe process-reinforcement – this “one size fits all” approach is usually a waste of time and resource.  Not to mention the fact that it really annoys your A players.

Consider an Alternative Training Approach for 2012, the 2% rule.

Allocate 35-40 hours of training time per outsourcing sale professional during 2012. This may seem like a lot of selling time being allocated to training but it’s not.  Since 8-16 hours will likely be used annually for group training, this leaves 20-24 hours of training time that can be applied to the specific and individual needs of each person on your sale team.

Examples of Individual Training Opportunities

Some team members may want to improve the negotiation skills, other may need to improve their knowledge of finance to help construct more successful deal structures.  Novice team members may need better industry knowledge in their vertical market.  Another advantage of individually specific training is it allows team members to schedule their training well in advance to ensure they get it on their calendar and work their schedules effectively.  Regardless of the individual need it makes sense to invest in better skills on a continuing basis.  Your sales people will become more effective and they will appreciate the investment you are making in them.

Looking for Effective Training Solutions?

3FORWARD has relationships with many excellent resources in the sales training arena, please contact us if we can help you with your outsourcing sales training requirements.


Sell ITO, BPO, Healthcare, or HRO Services? Outsourcing Headlines 9.21.11

Outsourcing Sales NewsOutsourcing’s On-line Discussions and News

Identify outsourcing sales triggers, connect with outsourcing industry leaders, spot trends and even chat with clients or prospects.  For outsourcing sales leaders, ITO sales, BPO sales, Analysts, Advisors and outsourcing consultants – these links are opportunities to engage your subject experts, showcase thought-leadership, link back to relevant blog posts and generate ideas for the future.

Industry-wide Outsourcing News

Sydney Entrepreneur Matt Barrie Reveals How he Built Australia’s Largest Outsourcing Site

Matt Barrie is an award-winning entrepreneur, technologist and lecturer. He is Chief Executive of Sydney-based, which is now the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace connecting over 1.5 million professionals from around the globe. In this Q&A interview with Alex Pirouz he explains how a vision much bigger than yourself can make it easier to push through times of uncertainty and hardship.

Global Woes to Pinch Outsourcing Firm’s Hiring Activity

Indian outsourcing companies are likely to witness a slump in hiring activity owing to the current global economic scenario, but the decline would not be as “substantial” as was after the 2008 crisis, experts believe.

Consider costs, credentials when outsourcing, adviser says

As a small-business owner, you may have considered outsourcing some of your company’s functions. Here are some factors to consider before doing so. Outsourcing can save businesses time and money, but if you’re not careful, it can also cost you time and money. Look at the value of time spent completing specific tasks in your organization, and use that knowledge to determine when it’s worthwhile to hire someone else. Overhead for full-time employees can cost up to 30 percent above their salaries.

IT Outsourcing

Outsourcing IT to other countries adds to cyber risks, report says

new report charged that the government’s outsourcing significant portions of the nation’s IT has created escalating cybersecurity risks. The report by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance’s (INSA) Cyber Council warned that federal authorities have outsourced a substantial share of IT to countries in which hackers have an easier time of gaining unauthorized access into IT systems and supply chains.

IT outsourcing strategy advice for business owners

Outsourcing business functions is a common practice for large multinational corporations. Nevertheless, even micro entrepreneurs and small business owners have started to embrace outsourcing as an ideal business solution. Outsourcing business functions to independent contractors will allow a business firm to focus more on things which they can control and administer more effectively while allowing highly skilled specialists to work on the outsourced business function.

Outsourcing Custom Software Development From IT Outsourcing Companies

Custom software development is no easy task and for companies with limited resources, using the services of IT outsourcing companies can help them get their custom software at a cost effective rate. Most custom software development is designed to contain features that will allow it to be configured according to the needs of the company. This means that IT outsourcing companies can offer services for developing database programs or standalone software depending on the company’s specific requirement.

Cloud Computing

European Data Concerns Cloud Outlook for US Vendors

American cloud providers may find themselves unable to sell to the Dutch government due to concerns that the vendors could be compelled to share data with U.S. authorities under the provisions of the Patriot Act. Similar concerns are being raised in the European Parliament.

Cloud Computing May be a Shot in the Arm our Economy Needs

Economists and pundits have long feared the emergence of what they called “hollow corporations,” or businesses that don’t actually produce actual goods or services themselves, but instead act as brokers or intermediaries relying on networks of suppliers and partners. But now, thanks to technology, successful businesses surprisingly are often brokers of services, delivered via technology, from providers and on to consumers. Where are these services coming from?  Look to the cloud.

IBM unveils new hybrid, private cloud solutions for enterprise

IBM South Africa announced a range of new cloud solutions today to help clients drive efficiency, scalability, accessible anywhere, anytime, and “pay only for what you use” computing. “Increasing numbers of organisations are looking to leverage the scale and flexibility of public cloud, but are concerned about losing control of resources outside of their four walls.

Healthcare & Outsourcing

Healthcare Outsourcing

Healthcare outsourcing in USA exceeded $38 billion in 2008 and more than £12 billion in UK. According to a recent study by Dun and Bradstreet, it becomes a $ 4 trillion-a-year business. The range of healthcare functional services being outsourced is expanding fast. It only shows that outsourcing in healthcare organization is not simply a passing trend every year. Outsourcing is a standard practice and a viable option being taken by healthcare providers seeking creative and smart ways to cut cost while maintaining the highest quality of patient care.

Healthcare Outsourcing see $1B

The healthcare outsourcing industry expects to generate $1 billion in revenue in five years and double its workforce this year. Myla Rose Reyes, president of the Healthcare Information Management Outsourcing Association of the Philippines (HIMOAP), said the association is targeting the capture of 25 percent of the $4 billion potential global market for healthcare information management outsourcing. HIMOAP, formerly known as the Medical Transcription Industry Association of the Philippines, said that as of end-2010, it had $94 million in revenue and 14,000 full-time employees. Reyes added that the industry aims to tap the 375,000 to 400,000 nursing graduates yearly.

Healthcare for derisking

Is healthcare the new sunshine sector for Indian information technology (IT) services industry? The question follows talk about Infosys’s plans to acquire such a business. Analysts say potential technology spend by the healthcare industry, especially in the US, offers the Indian IT firms a viable opportunity to de-risk their sector exposure considering it relies a lot on banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) industry.

Human Resource Outsourcing

Will HR Outsourcing ride the third wave?

There’s a common belief that the third in a series of ocean waves is the biggest. If it’s true for waves of change in HRO too, this latest wave of transformation in the industry will have a considerable impact. According to Anthony Hesketh in HRO Today transformation is back on the Outsourcing agenda, if indeed it ever went away. We all understood the logic of the first wave of HR Outsourcing in 1999 – freeing up HR to focus on strategic aspects of the job, introducing standardization, self-service technology and Global Service Centers. It was this desire for HR Transformation that created ground-breaking Global HR Outsourcing deals with Exult-BP and ePeopleserve.

The 2011 HROA BeEmpowered Event | September 21-22, Atlanta

The HROA will officially welcome the HRO Buyers Group into the HROA, hold Buyers Group meetings for incoming and established buy-side communities, host an Awards Dinner and Gala, offer challenging Thought Leadership Presentations, and introduce an exciting new Community experience session. Formal meetings of the Global, North American and RPO Alliance SIG Boards will be held on either side of the main events, making this a truly diverse program with appeal for everyone involved in HRO.

Is Outsourcing HR right for your business?

Whether you currently have a full-time Human Resources professional on board, or an office manager who is handling basic HR responsibilities, an external Human Resources consultant, such as Instant HR Solutions,can complement your existing structure or lack thereof. Some reasons you should consider outsourcing some or all of your human resources responsibilities are listed in this post.

Business Process Outsourcing

Whitepaper: Platform Based BPO and its Evolution

Over the last 30 years, the advances in computing technologies allowed development and deployment of large systems, which were both scalable and resilient. They incorporated the industry’s best practices, typically focusing on twin objectives of enterprise-wide data and process standardization across multiple locations.

Dell eyes BPO expansion, targets non-US markets

Dell is aiming to secure a stable foothold in the outsourcing services industry in the Philippines as it expands its operations to accommodate other non-US markets where it exists. Among the target markets for expansion are the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, and India. These are countries where Dell’s outsourcing services are already being offered. Its major market remains to be the United States.

BPOs Turn to Social Media Monitoring

Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) firms are getting smarter with social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Companies want to know how, when and why they are mentioned on these websites by different consumers and BPOs are there to help them now.

Procurement Outsourcing

Paul Teague: Get the fundamentals right when outsourcing

The hottest debates among the general public center around the outsourcing of manufacturing. Many people ask why businesses don’t just keep manufacturing and the jobs that go with it at home instead of sending it to other countries. Wouldn’t that be the patriotic thing to do? Well, maybe it would be patriotic, but that’s beside the point. Corporations, after all, are not in business to be patriotic. They’re in business to make money. And if they can make more by reaping the savings from outsourcing, you have to expect that they’ll outsource.

Focus shifts to procurement outsourcing

The unpredictable global economic conditions experienced over the past few years is causing concern amongst the BPO companies across the world with some swearing by procurement outsourcing as a panacea for success and others feeling the pinch of sluggish growth. A report published in the Procurement Leaders magazine quotes a recent survey conducted jointly with SAP to suggest that while 42 percent of respondents did not believe that procurement outsourcing was the way to go, 29 percent said things would change drastically over the next two years.

Payroll Outsourcing

IRS Warns Employers about Payroll Outsourcing Fraud

The Internal Revenue Service issued advice on Friday to employers who outsource their payroll duties to third-party service providers. In a tax tips email, the IRS referred to recent prosecutions of individuals and companies that pretended to be payroll service providers and instead stole funds intended for payment of employment taxes. The IRS noted that the employer is ultimately responsible for depositing and paying federal tax liabilities.

Legal Processing Outsourcing

Outsourcing legal work is here to stay, say ABA panel experts

… For a lawyer, outsourcing can apply to needs ranging from non-legal tasks–such as scanning documents from paper to digital form; to work that requires a lawyer–such as counsel in an area of law unfamiliar to the outsourcer. When it comes to hiring such assistance, Joseph said his attitude mirrors that of his apparel company, which outsources every aspect of production.

(3FORWARD does not endorse, support, seek nor receive funds from any of these sites, companies or individuals.  We take all efforts to ensure quality destinations, however as these are sites completely independent of 3FORWARD we are not responsible for their content or any other visible or technical elements present on these locations.)

Sales Planning Best Practices – Setting Goals and Targets

Setting sales goals and targets“Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan” – Setting Sales Goals and Targets

We have devoted several posts recently to the importance of sales planning, including: The Complete 2012 B2B Sales Planning Outline… And It’s Only 359 Words and Proof That Sales Planning Increases Win Rates. Sales planning itself is such an important component of the sales process that we are hosting a webinar with CSO Insights on this topic this week (join if you can).

If you consider that the B2B sales plan sets the course for everything that goes into a successful sales year, the initial section of the sales plan, “Goals and Targets,” establishes the course for the actual written plan. Let’s take a closer look at this critical section and consider the required outcome of each key point.

The 5-Step B2B Sales Planning Handbook

Step 1: Sales Goals and Targets

  • Setting your annual sales goals and revenue targets
  • Prioritize challenges that could keep you from hitting your targets and create a defensive strategy for each
  • Define changes and investments that must be made to achieve success

1.  Setting Sales Goals and Revenue Targets

Although goals and targets are often used synonymously, they are in fact quite different.    Compare their definitions*

Goals: Destinations or where we want the business to be and feel, for example:

-      Relationships

-      Reputation

-      Image

-      Sustainability

-      Culture

Targets: Specific results we want the business to achieve, progress markers to attaining goals; for example:

-      Revenue

-      Profit

-      Market share

-      Recognition

An example of how Goals and Targets work together in this opening section of your sales plan could look like this.

Goal: Establish two new relationships per quarter in the US Financial and Accounting Outsourcing practice.  The targeted annual contract value of each new relationship is $2 million.

2. Prioritizing Challenges and Creating Defensive Strategies

Consider your last couple sales years and think about those things that kept you from achieving all your sales targets.  Be as specific as possible while keeping it functionally focused – not personal.   For example: Need more qualified output from marketing’s lead generation programs (instead of actually naming the VP of Marketing as the problem).

Here’s a simple but effective template for listing out challenges, their impact and priority, and assigning responsibility to minimizing them.

3.  Defining Changes and Investments Needed to Achieve Success

You are likely in the same boat as most sales leaders heading into a new year: You’re getting a quota increase. In the old days we might grumble a little, play around with territories and headcount then tell the CEO we need another seven incremental sales reps to meet the new number.  Your best expectation would have been for one or two of the seven to make quota.  The others become permanent “C” players or simply fail miserably.

More Effective Approaches to Investing in Sales Success

Yes, headcount is still a critical success factor for a sales team expected to make its number.   However, studies of best-in-class sales teams clearly demonstrate many other vital approaches to improving effectiveness and revenue that simply make your existing A, B and even C performers better.   (Fire the D’s, but that’s already in your plan, right?).

Here are five areas of your sales model that will benefit big time from focus and investment.   They are proven to create permanent increases in both win-rates and quota attainment for B2B sales teams.

  • Establishing a formalized sales process, including targeted account planning
  • Sales manager effectiveness training and industry-specific rep training
  • Lead segmentation and a marketing automation system
  • Sales leaders dashboard
  • Sales intelligence, prospect profiling and industry monitoring

There you have an example of Setting Sales Goals and Targets, the first section in creating your new sales plan.   You can clearly see why getting this area down on paper establishes the foundation for everything else in your plan.

Tools, Templates and Help Writing Your Sales Plan

If you’d like some help getting started we have many tools and templates on our Sales Leaders Resources page.  We also offer a complimentary Sales Optimization Review for CEOs and Sales Leaders who know they need to make some big changes but want some ideas before getting started.   Let us know how we can help.

*From my well-worn version of Marketing Plans that Work – Targeting Growth and Profitability, copyright 2002.

Invest in a Sales Leadership System to Establish Your Selling Process

Sales Reps following a formal sales process outperform others by 10%

All companies need established, formal processes to operate efficiently – and sales organizations are no exception. High performing sales teams all have one thing in common; they have well-established sales processes that they adhere to fanatically.

A recent CSO Insights study on Sales Performance Optimization show that companies with a defined and dynamic sales process had a 10% advantage in reps that made quota (65% VS 55%).  Proving that strong processes improve selling results.

Establishing a Sales Leadership System that covers all facets of the sales process is a must-have to survive in today’s economy.

B2B selling process steps generally fall into 3 categories:

1. Prospect/client activities

2. Training activities

3. Administrative activities

Because prospect/ client activities are highly valued it makes sense to maximize as much time in that area as possible, while still allowing time for the other activities to be completed.  The best way to ensure this happens is to build a Sales Leadership System (SLS) that covers the sales process end-to-end.

Establishing this system will ensure all participants know what is expected, by whom and when it is expected. The ultimate objective of this approach is to minimize the loss of client/selling time by adhering to an established routine for important, but non-client facing actives.

Sales Leadership System Objectives

  • Establish selling process and cadence for all sales activities
  • A bottom-up process beginning with the Sales Exec and reaching the C-Team
  • Establish clear roles and responsibilities for all selling levels and sales management
  • Key activities include:
    • Demand generation
    • Account planning and review
    • Sales activity planning and review
    • Opportunity management
    • Forecasting
    • Leadership review
    • Training

Create a Sales Activities Calendar

Establishing a monthly account rep/territory review that includes key sales and marketing stakeholders is a good first step for defining your Sales Leadership System.  The monthly sales activity review should be focused on each rep’s individual territory and/or account plans and should include key stakeholders from executive management.  That allows the executive team to hear first hand the issues and challenges facing the sales and marketing team.

Sales Activity Review Focus Areas Include:

  • Territory/Client industry overview
  • Account analysis
  • Relationship overview
  • Revenue Potential
  • Opportunity analysis
  • Account team actions
  • Activity review with other selling BU’s

Companies have good intentions when starting a new planning and reporting process, but those intentions often fall prey to hectic calendars and client requirements.  To prevent slippage of these critical tasks it’s a good practice to establish an annual sales activities calendar at the beginning of the plan year.  The calendar can be populated on every participants corporate calendar and should require senior level approval if conflicts occur.   We have found prescheduling like this minimizes conflicts and reinforces the importance.

Take the time now to start build a Sales Leadership System specific to your business.  If you need help or guidance in areas like KPI’s or account planning processes feel free to reach out.

Consider the Big Picture When Building Your 2012 Sales Plan

2012 sales planning is well underway with most of our partner companies.  One thing we strongly advocate while working your 2012 sales plan is to look at everything going on around your company and industry.   You will realize there are many things that could impact your sales results next year and now is the time to take a step back and look at YOUR big picture.

Take the time before the start of your sale year to make sure you have a good GTM strategy and the proper components to build, run and manage a successful sales year. The graphic below may help with the process. (If you need any help or assistance please contact us.)

Sales Planning Process Overview

Take a fresh view of your go to market strategy, has your marketplace or prospect base changed over the last few quarters or years? The answer is probably yes – and that that means you need to make adjustments to your selling and support models.

As an example, if you have increased territories or headcount will the number of opportunities that need to be worked in 2012 increase?  If the answer is yes is your opportunity management team staffed and properly enabled from a technology perspective?

Many companies have implemented a lead management program and an inside sale team to do second level qualification before handing the lead off to sales. This adds several layers of increased complexity and the lead handoff flow needs to be tested to ensure no lost prospects.

Here is a more detailed example of the components of your sales plan that you should give a fresh review each planning year.  Situations change and what made sense at one time may need dramatic revisions a year or two later.

Sales Planning Process Detail

For more help with 2012 sales planning take a look at our Sales Leaders Resources page.  We have several resources and templates to help with everything from account targeting to revenue planning.   For a more in-depth discussion consider our Sales Optimization Review, a complimentary one hour sales review for CEOs and Sales Leaders.