Tom’s VP of Sales is preparing to sit down with the CEO and Board. Last quarter the message was clear: “Revenue growth, now.” Every VP understands the necessity of short term uplift. Sales executive tenures are historically shorter than their peers. So, naturally, the VP promised to start generating revenue in the next 90 days. But it has not happened. Here’s why:
- Field Sales was beating to its own drum. There are pockets of success around the country, but no standard levels of certification. Forecasts were inconsistent. Improving the talent of the team, and providing a uniform approach, were key. Enabling the team through webinars and mobile trainings had taken up time.
- Customer interviews indicated the team was not seen as trusted advisors. They were not engaging customers with relevant information, when customers wanted it. Field Sales did not have a standardized approach for engaging buyers. Tom’s Sales Ops team developed v1 of a buyer-centric prospecting and selling methodology.
- CRM adoption has long been an issue. There are 3 separate instances around the country. Consolidation was a necessary step to properly managing the sales organization. Forecasts were suspect, because the inputs into the CRM were inconsistent. New sales and prospecting processes would need to be automated. This will continue to be an ongoing effort.
These initiatives are some of the more common initiatives Sales Orgs are undertaking. SBI’s 8th Annual Research Report breaks down how world class organizations are executing them. The report lays out many more common design, plan and execution strategies. A key component discussed in the report is measuring transformation initiatives. This will help Tom, as he prepares his VP for the board meeting.
Tom and his VP are confident the moves they made are the right ones. They are redesigning the plane mid-flight, and revenue has not dipped. Conveying this to the board is difficult, but should be addressed through 3 metrics:
- Early indicators: The first signs of success are behavioral changes. Getting the entire field organization to row in the same direction is a big win. Adopting the processes and technology, and implementing the training techniques, are early indicators. After 3 months, there should be signs of improvement. Tom pulls together:
- Activity report: Indicating better adoption of the CRM.
- Growth in contacts per account: Indicating reps go wide and deep in accounts.
- Coaching interactions: Indicating ongoing improvement of the talent.
- Leading indicators: These new activities should build to improved outcomes. Most likely, the last 90 days have begun to move the needle on these outcomes.
- Additional opportunities in the pipeline: Indicating more at bats from higher activity levels.
- Opportunity size: Indicating whether the team is moving upstream to influential decision makers.
- Reduced turnover: Indicating the Sales team believes in the vision and feels supported.
- Lagging indicators: This is what the board is waiting for, but they take time. With a 6 month sales cycle, those new opportunities will soon begin to close.
- Revenue growth: Indicating whether they have delivered on the mandate.
- Improved Gross Margin: Ensuring we did not over-invest to hit the revenue goal.
- Churn: Indicating whether we lost key customers along the way.
Every board wants quick results. But every board also wants long term viability. Tom must show that the vision for both today and next year is correct. Proving results in the short term builds momentum. This will ensure his team is still intact to see the vision through.