Company leaders who are implementing sales best practices, challenging the traditional selling model, investing wisely in sales technology, and benchmarking as many key metrics as possible are generating tremendous ROI for themselves and their shareholders. In sales terms, these leaders are winning more deals, closing bigger contracts and grabbing more market share.
Looking for breakout gains? Here are the top five changes to make this year in your company's sales model:
- No longer allow sales leaders to replace the "bottom 20%" with new reps. Instead redirect that investment into technology and 2.0 tools such as lead automation, prospect and competitor analytics, and social media engagement.
- Formalize a Lead Creation and Management position, and report them to Marketing. Responsibilities should be to design, implement and manage all aspects of lead development and conversion. Make sure this position has shared goals, metrics and quota with the sales leader for lead creation.
- Begin using benchmarking and hard metrics to evaluate sales organization and lead generation performance. Demand that the black box days known as "the art of sales" come to an end. (See Do Your Sales People Make the Grade and Sales Management 2.0 by CSO Insights for information on sales benchmarking.
- Start the shift to measuring and compensating sales on variables other than contract revenue (bookings). Paying on billings and margin rather than top line contract value will focus sales on closing higher quality deals earlier in the plan year.
- Expect sales pursuit decisions to be based on prospect analysis, profiling, scoring and formal insight. Too much bid/no-bid influence is often given to individual sales reps (who have no disincentive to tying up as much company resources on their deals as possible) as the sole decision point on pursuit decisions. While many reps cannot confirm flight reservations without VP approval, those same companies allow reps to commit tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in company sales resources at their sole discretion.
The gap between the best performing sales organizations and the industry average is widening. CEOs and presidents that make these bold moves will not only be more likely to surpass their 2010 goals, but will further distance themselves from the majority of companies that continue trying to sell they way they always have.