I often get called into an organization when revenue growth stalls. I start at a high level to discover where there are missing links and broken pieces within the sales organization to determine what’s needed to get back on track. What I’ve outlined below will give you a starting point for assessing your own organization.
Effectiveness = growth
The first thing I do is look at the effectiveness of the organization, which is its ability to drive long-term revenue growth initiatives. Although achieving a revenue number is often considered an important measure of performance, there are more telling metrics. So I also evaluate, when available, the number of net new customers, net new business from existing customers, new market accounts, average deal size, revenue per sales person and overall pipeline health.
Using these metrics, I can tell how well-defined an organization’s sales effectiveness is, and consequently, its sales readiness and sales enablement capabilities. While these terms are used somewhat interchangeably in the industry, I have found that sales readiness encompasses everything needed for building selling proficiency, while sales enablement involves the development of market and product fluency.
For strategic growth initiatives to be successful, these two elements must be operating optimally and well coordinated. When elements of one or the other are off, or perhaps absent all together, the sales effectiveness of the organization is diminished, sales growth stalls and, ultimately, sales performance takes a hit.
How proficient are your sales people?
If you want to assess sales readiness in your organization, take a look and see if your sales people have the right selling skills to support your organization’s strategic growth initiatives. Specifically, how proficient are they in preparing and executing key conversations with targeted buyers, from identifying business objectives to uncovering value and understanding the buying process? An assessment of sales readiness will uncover what you need to put in place to move qualified opportunities to closure. You may need to re-assess your sales methodology and support processes, ongoing sales skills development and training programs, pipeline models, forecasting capabilities, and territory and account planning.
If something is off, ask yourself these questions: Where and why do opportunities get stuck in the sales cycle? Do I have the right sales processes and methodology in place to facilitate my customer’s buying processes? Are the activities of my sales organization aligned with the overall objectives of the company? What skills need further development to better support my sales team? What are the missing or weak links?
Are my people armed with the right support?
The other part of this two-prong foundation is sales enablement. This is essentially how well an organization provides intelligence for its sales team in terms of information and data about your products, markets and buyers. This includes knowledge-based support tools that help sales people prepare and execute sales calls. These support tools include market knowledge, product usage expertise, sales messaging, success story libraries, competitive information and business value assessments.
To assess your organization’s capabilities in this area, ask these questions: Has sales and marketing agreed on the verticals, job titles and business objectives for key markets? How easy is it for sales people to identify and leverage information about successful customer implementations? How much time does it take a sales person to prepare for a sales call? Does he or she need to reinvent the wheel for each call? How effective are sales people in executing those calls and gaining access to decision makers? How often do you win when given an opportunity to compete for the business?
Greater effectiveness – a ready and enabled team!
Improving sales effectiveness is a cross-functional, company-wide issue, and requires extensive collaboration between sales and marketing. When sales readiness and sales enablement are fully functioning, you’ll have a more effective sales organization and you’ll be able to drive long-term revenue growth.