Did your sales team make their number in 2014? Is your sales pipeline strong enough to meet goals for Q1 2015? If the answer to these questions is yes then you have most likely made changes to your sales organization and worked on strategic re-alignment in 2014. If like many companies you have acknowledged that sales and marketing has changed and is changing. For most; the old time tested sales and marketing best practices just don’t work as well as they used to.
Below are 7 things you can do to start re-building your sales operation.
- Sales Planning: You team needs a plan now. Not just any plan but a plan that is realistic, aggressive, and feasible. Aligning the sales activity with product and marketing strategy is more important now than it has ever been. Start with where you will go in the market, what you will say to the market, and how much you need to sell in that market.
- Account Segmentation: “Its all about the base”, sometime. Most good sales plans begin with making sure the base business is protected and grown appropriately. Too often, executive management will take this business for granted and will be often blindsided when some current significant business leaves for the competition. The old adage “it costs more to sell a new customer that is does to sell an existing customer”
- Lead Generation: Inbound and Outbound marketing has turned upside down in 2014. There is a significant shift of sales and marketing dollars being shifted to inbound marketing and predictive analytics. SEO and lead nurturing is mission critical. Early sales stage online engagement needs to be done correctly as telemarking, trade shows, and “cold calls” are not as effective as they were in the not so distant past.
- Field the A players and focus them: Relationship builders and hard workers are being challenged. The reason is simple; being a nice person and working long hours is not enough anymore in B:B selling. Businesses are looking to work with highly educated sales professionals who can help improve their businesses. Sales teams numbers are being reduced and staffed with only the best and brightest sales professionals. The Challenger salesman or as I like to call them them more appropriately “thought leaders “ are “pricey” and need to be highly focused on the “right” opportunity at the “right” time in the buying cycle.
- Organization Structure: To accommodate this new engagement model, organizational structure is evolving. More investment is being made in the top of the funnel and inbound marketing. Inside Sales teams continue to grow to support the base of business and expand. Thought leaders are being recruited and replacing the hard working relationship builders. It is not that relationship building is not important anymore, it is just not a stand alone skill set of the A Players. Sales Operations must build a team aligned with the engagement model.
- Sales Training: How will you equip your “thought leaders” and how will you keep them current on the industry, sales tools, and application knowledge? Many organizations with poor sales performance do little or no sales training during the course of the year and many sales people feel personal development is not necessary to succeed. Sales is hard and has become more difficult with the new engagement model. Get continuous serious training started and make the investment. You will see a return and you will also have less sales turnover of key players.
- Sales Force Automation: Use the systems that make the sales team more productive. Too often companies will buy a systems that brings their sales organization to its knees. Sure they have nice reports that can be shown in management meetings but are viewed as punishment by sales. SFA should be a win/win proposition. Quite simply, help sales people sell more and free their time up to spend more time with high value prospects and customers.