article | May 19, 2017
How to Determine Which Sales Problem is Worth Solving?
Your team brings sales problems to you every month, quarter, and year. Why? They want you to give them money and people to solve these problems. You could spend all of your time reacting to your sales team. You could also go broke.
This post seeks to help you answer a simple, yet powerful, question:
“Is this really an issue?”
Begin with an executive level assessment of your sales strategy. It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. The will help you determine if you are likely or unlikely to make your number. From your assessment, and/or when your team brings you a sales problem, evaluate it with Sales Problem Grader. The tool has 10 yes/no questions. A yes response gets awarded 10 points. A no response gets 0 points. A total score of 50 or above means this sales problem warrants further investigation. A total score below 50 means this sales problem should be ignored. It’s just noise.
Why you should care?
Any leadership team can arrive at a long list of areas to improve upon. Even best-in-class sales teams have dozens of ways in which they can get better. The question is not “Can you improve?” The question is “Where are you going to improve to achieve the greatest benefit?”
A client of mine recently stated to me: “Becoming a world-class sales force is not our goal. Our goal is to be world class in specific areas. The areas that will lead to significantly better financial results.”
You need to prioritize which sales problems warrant further investigation. The 10 questions in this tool can help.
The answers to these questions will inform you. The cost-benefit trade-offs associated with solving the sales problem will become visible. You can develop financial models to quantify the incremental revenue and costs, if needed. This tool is used before spreadsheets are built. It is meant to screen.
The first question of the ten is the most import. It asks if the sales problem persists, will you miss the number? Your team will likely not address this relationship explicitly. As a result, their recommended solutions do not directly support the most important opportunities. For example, your sales team will almost always lead with two solutions:
Sales leaders rely too heavily on compensation and training to solve sales problems. Both are critically important. But, by themselves they are almost always insufficient.
To answer the question, “Is this really an issue?” focus only on rich sales problems. This will result in far more actionable solutions. For example, when asked for funds to train sales reps, ask for an objective. If you hear something like, “grow 20% in Enterprise Accounts in the US”, you should decline. These high level objectives do little to guide CEO decision making. When evaluating sales problems brought to you by your team, objectives must be by:
This worksheet helped a company prioritize which sales problems to tackle. The CEO was getting bombarded with request for funds from his team. The sales problems were because of rapid growth (0 to 100 million users).
This worksheet presents the priorities. The workshop was attended by the CEO and his team. It allowed a number of sales problems to be prioritized. In order to make the number, we need to address these problems:
The CEO has concentrated his efforts on sales process and adding sales headcount. He recognized if he did not, he would miss the number. The next time your team brings you a sales problem, ask yourself: “Is this really an issue?” Rely on this tool in this post to help you answer whether the problem has a major impact on your sales strategy.
Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is a tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:
© 2017 Sales Benchmark Index (SBI)
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© 2018 Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), B.V.
A Business Strategy Consulting Company
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands