One of my favorite blogs, Sales Benchmark Index, recently made a bold statement: 78 percent of sales strategies are hopeless. It’s not a comforting statement for any member of a sales organization to read, but do read on, because the reasons why might surprise you.
Lack of Communication
In my experience, in most cases companies do have a strategy but it’s not communicated to those in the customer-facing frontlines like sales and customer service in a way that they can consistently translate into clear actions.
Unfortunately, that is a tough thing to do because it requires strong sales management and tools that help sales people identify and uncover the needs of their customers. These tools act like a super human sales analyst digging through the data available to identify what customers need and presenting those needs at the right time to sales people in a way that is aligned with the corporate strategy. In other words, predictive tools and strong coaching can translate a sales strategy into specific actions that drive relevant customer interactions that will bring overall growth.
Coaching is Key
The strategy must also make it easier for managers to coach in an objective manner. Much of a sales manager’s day is likely spent on administrative and reporting tasks, rather than customer- and market-facing activities, despite best efforts. This leaves too little time to coach sales reps to help them keep, grow and win more business, resulting in inefficient time allocation and often, team underperformance.
As efficiency wanes, many companies implement more sales processes, increase the number of reports and look to technology solutions, like CRM. The underlying assumption is that more visibility into sales team activities will help identify areas for improvement and ultimately drive better performance. However, these solutions often exacerbate the problem, creating even more administrative and reporting tasks for reps and managers alike.
This vicious cycle is well-described in a recent Gartner1 report, “Most technology investments were spent on salesforce automation, with sales performance management and sales effectiveness considered back-office functions and out of the purview of sales management. This resulted in sales organizations underspending on sales coaching, content management, and other tools to help support and manage sales teams. Those very decisions are beginning to manifest themselves in less-than-stellar sales performance.”
In order to effectively coach to better performance, sales managers and reps need visibility into the specific opportunities most likely to win business. That information provides an objective and systematic framework to measure performance across territories and coach reps to improve.