Every sales force has issues. Some issues can be improved, some can be ignored. Top sales organizations know that improvement is key to survival. Continuously improving builds Sales Force Effectiveness (SFE).
This post is written for those involved in SFE improvements. Usually, this is undertaken by Sales Operations, HR, or some Process or Project organization. I’ve written specifically to HR-related Sales issues in this post. However, Sales Operations leaders can substitute Ops for HR and benefit equally well.
Let’s assume that earlier tasks have diagnosed an SFE problem that must be solved. The next logical step is researching options. However, make sure these 4 steps are done to make research successful. You’ll want this downloadable tool to help when you start your research. The SFE Research Tool contains 10 possible methods/sources of SFE research.
1. Validate the sales problem that must be solved (including the scope) – This is a key first step. It wastes time to find a great solution to the WRONG problem. “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” – Albert Einstein. So be sure the problem has been defined including the impact. Check to see if NOT solving the issue will impact you (see this post.) Finally, make sure the scope is well defined. For example, it is only for the North America region or it is global. It is only for inside sales or enterprise sales is also included. ALL layers of management are in scope vs. only the field sales managers. Only certain customers or markets are involved vs. all markets.
2. Confirm HR’s role in this sales issue – Not all issues require HR help for resolution. Whatever problem was defined, confirm how HR will help. For example, if it involves talent, performance, compensation, hiring, structure and similar issues, HR should be involved. Even if not an obvious HR issue, HR is needed for change management. Also, find out to what degree HR will be involved. Will HR only be doing change management? Will they manage the project? Is research part of their role? Whatever part HR plays, confirm the participation and reporting expectations.
3. Ensure the requirements for solving the issue are documented – This list would be used during research and evaluation. Hopefully, the requirements are prioritized or weighted. Best would be if they are in a matrix, like the one discussed in this post. Make sure the requirements include what is necessary to aid in reaching objectives – whether company or personal. The requirements need to include what the desired future state should look like. For example, a matrix of requirements should have a vision statement attached to it. “Improve the sales force so that top performer retention is above 90%.” This helps guide the weighting and prioritizing of criteria. As well, this vision keeps research focused.
4. Know where to look to research possible solutions. This will help you get started on your research in an efficient manner. Hint – Google is not the most efficient method (but it can be used.) The downloadable tool will help here: The SFE Research Tool. In it you’ll find sources and methods to use to research SFE improvement solutions.
For example, here are 3 sources to use for HR-related SFE issues.
- www.SalesBenchmarkIndex.com – We write a daily blog written directly to different personas. Each blog has useful information and a usable tool. For HR, simply go to our website and click on the HR Leader role. You’ll then get a list of all the HR posts related to SFE issues.
- Multiple HR groups on LinkedIn – I find that the Linked:HR group has some of the better discussions. However, the focus is not on Sales Force Effectiveness issues.
- Use the search function to find discussions related to your sales issue.
- Your past places of employment. Or the places of employment of your relatives. Simply ask them what they’ve done/who they’ve used to solve SFE issues.
One more helpful source: me and my network. Connect with me on LinkedIn and you’ll be part of a network of SFE champions.
Next, download the tool and you are now ready to begin your research.
Please comment or contact me to provide more sources and methods – specifically for researching SFE improvement solutions.