article | January 18, 2013
The Biggest 2013 HR Challenge for Sales is 2014
At first, it may not seem like an HR leader would be involved in shaping sales force structure. But they should. The opportunity to deliver value to Sales is wider than many HR leaders think.
This post includes one tool to think more strategically about a part of the business. It is an example, not the whole story. There are many more opportunities beyond sales force structure. This post will focus on a single example of HR’s positive impact for a sales organization.
2014 and Beyond
During the interview, I was surprised to hear the biggest HR challenge for 2013. It is to align the talent to where the market will be in 2014. This B2B technology provider already has world-class sales talent. They practice Topgrading; they rigorously develop their sales teams. Their challenge is the evolution of how their customers make buying decisions. The sales organization must continually adapt.
Here is her situation. The sales resources were not properly aligned last year. They failed to capitalize on opportunities. Some people were overburdened, others were underutilized. Customers were not served as well as they could have been. Worse yet, the sales force earnings were well below target. The top performers are now vulnerable to competitive recruitment. The sales force is tentative – 2013 will be a repeat of 2012. They sit in the annual kickoff meeting worried about their future. They are not 100% focused on accelerating business.
Fortunately, the HR leader recognizes the challenges. She is determined to get ahead of the curve. Traditional HR leaders would see this as a motivation, compensation or retention problem. This HR leader and her sales leaders have taken the longer view. They understand the dynamics of the changing buyer landscape. The solution is to correct the alignment. In her case it starts with Telesales.
What about Today?
The structure that powered today’s diminishing success will not work in the future. Buyers complete 57% or more of the decision process before engaging a sales rep. Competency profiling and retention strategies won’t align today’s sales team with the customer. So HR is taking the lead on a new buyer alignment project. They are developing a new Telesales program – one that connects with buyers the way they buy. How did they arrive at this decision?
One key was an analysis of the sales force structure. The tool shown below shows a quick assessment of Return on Investment. It compares the new revenue contribution for 3 different sales channels:
In this example, Telesales clearly offered the best return on the dollars invested. It also complemented the Go To Market strategy by adding a new way to reach customers.
How HR is Strategic and Relevant to Sales
This HR leader has shown strategic skills, not just fixing the obvious. Changes to compensation and territories are under way to fix today’s issues. But the VP of Sales values his HR partner that understands sales structure concepts.
There are more options for supporting Sales than the standard recruiting and retention strategies. Strategic HR vision results in better decisions about human capital. Sales leaders need a strategic partner who can get the most out of limited resources.
The Telesales project is one example of how HR leaders provide vision and leadership. Think about the future: What should your sales organization look like in 2014 and beyond? Download the Sales Channel ROI Calculator here. Enter your own assumptions. Consider the options available to your organization. Talk with your sales leadership team.
Study the trends in your customers’ buying habits. They are evolving. Maybe Telesales is not the right answer for your organization. Keep looking. Slide your mouse over the search box on the upper right side of this page. Type in the topic that is most important to your sales leader. The SBI website abounds in insights and tools that can expand your relevance. Your leadership will make an impact in evolving your sales organization for 2014. And beyond.