As you plan for next year, are you investing enough in both?  Your people will need new capabilities to thrive in a changing market.  The comp plan must incentivize the right behavior.  Reps must have the tools and support to win the big deals.  Sales Operations is responsible for creating that winning environment.High performing team

 

Download our Performance Culture Assessment tool.  It will help your management and field team to find a common vision.  The discussion will offer insights in how your peers are addressing similar issues.  The following insights are a primer for this in depth conversation.

 

Resource Allocation

An electronics manufacturer was seeing declining revenue per head.  80% of its sales team was outside sales reps.  Those reps were covering an extensive territory and large customer base.  Most calls were to maintain the relationship and take an order.  A survey showed between 10%-20% of their time was spent driving. 

 

The customer base was surveyed and asked what they required from their rep.  The majority simply needed new product updates and quick quote turnaround.  The face to face interaction was appreciated but not necessary. 

 

The Sales Operations team moved to reorganize the group.  Additional inside sellers were brought in to manage small, transactional accounts.  All customers who wanted speedy quotes could now go directly to this inside team.  This reduced the time spent traveling by more expensive sellers.  They could focus on a smaller, more profitable list of clients.  More time could be spent creating complex solutions to uncovered needs.  Existing customer revenues spiked by 24% last quarter.  Digging deeper into accounts gets a higher share of wallet. 

 

Systems Enhancement

The tools and resources in your organization play a large part in future success.  A media organization recently created home grown CRM system.  It mapped to a proposal generating tool.  Accounts had to be entered in both systems, which required double the reporting.  The homegrown system worked for tracking time and activity.  But it was slow and boxy, and was despised by the team. 

 

Expensive sellers should not be handcuffed by second rate resources.  Every minute spent navigating a slow moving system is a minute lost.  Systems should be mobile friendly, allowing data to be entered while on the go.  If the tools are not enabling selling activity, they are a hindrance.  As your products become more advanced, ensure your resources are keeping pace.

 

Performance Culture Assessment

 

Incentive Programs

Does your comp plan incent behaviors that will get you to your number?  A client recently put out a new comp plan.  It had 6 levers that impacted payout, including gross profit and net new logos.  Reps had trouble deciding which levers to focus on.  If they went after new business, it would surely be at lower margins.  High margin deals only come after a relationship has been built.  A majority of reps focused on margin, and gave up prospecting for new accounts.

 

A comp plan with more than 3 levers will create these issues.  If the team does not have a strategy for maximizing pay, they will thrash.  Consider the metrics that will drive your top 3 sales objectives for the year.  Cut out the legacy inputs that no longer work.  A confusing comp plan will limit your ability to make the number.

 

Talent Management  

Success is 50% talent.  Many corporations are investing in talent programs for next year.  Products are becoming commoditized.  The differentiator is often found in your people.  A client recently told me they were making a big push to attract top talent.  He wanted the market to view his company as the place for ‘A’ players.  There are very few ‘A’ players in the market.  It was imperative that he hire and retain as many as possible.

 

A vast majority of hiring profiles are outdated.  Ensure you are testing for the right competencies in interviews.  Call references and past employers.  Once you have a team of ‘A’ players, enable them through onboarding.  Continually develop and train on new strategies.  If a rep is not retiring quarterly quotas within a year, let them go.  Hire slow and fire fast.

 

Creating a performance culture takes talent and the right conditions.  By investing in both next year, you will set yourself up for long term success. 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Kearney

Helps clients adopt emerging best practices to help them make their number.
Learn more about John Kearney >

John has been with SBI since 2011. He has worked with executives in Executive Education, Media, Telco, IT Services, and others. Under his leadership, organizations have successfully grown revenue and improved Sales and Marketing Effectiveness. With a focus on aligning strategies across functions, John has delivered strategic solutions that are actionable and executable. Prior to SBI, John earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame.

 

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