Macallan 18 Year Alex says to me: “I am buried right now. My VP of Sales wants me to research trends in inside sales and conduct account segmentation. The sales managers are yelling for updated dashboards and territories. HR is on my back about finalizing the updated compensation plan. Oh, and Marketing wants to discuss sales enablement improvements. I am spent!”


Sound familiar? Alex is the VP of Sales Operations at a large technology company. Like him, you might feel stressed, resource strapped and burning the candle 24/7.


After listening to Alex I asked him, “When is the chaos going to slow down?”

He responded, “Honestly, I don’t think it ever will.” I took a sip of my smooth scotch and turned my head slightly after lowering my glass, “When was the last time you benchmarked your KPI’s (key performance indicators)?”


Alex paused for a second as he motioned to the bartender for another round then said, ”We benchmarked compensation two years ago. However, in terms of KPI’s we haven’t looked at them in several years. We have been running from one project to the next. What are you hinting at here Josh?”


I set my glass down and cleared my throat, “Alex, if you benchmarked the sales organization, you would be able to build a roadmap to success. Having a roadmap will help you cut the clutter and focus on what really needs to be fixed.”


The next day Alex and I sat down. We walked through how benchmarking could relieve his stress and create a project roadmap.


From Benchmark to Roadmap

Benchmarking is the comparison of business processes and key performance indicators (KPI’s) to best practices. It establishes a frame of reference for Great / Good / Average / Bad / Ugly. Think about when you were in school and the teacher gave you an “A”. You knew it was a great score because other kids have B’s, C’s and D’s. Same goes for sales organizations. If you don’t have a frame of reference you don’t know what to improve.


A roadmap is a plan for getting from point A to point B. It highlights key processes and checkpoints to ensure progress is being made.


As I pick back up with Alex he was facing a mountain of work and tremendous stress. We kicked off our conversation by talking through the Sales Operations project assessment. The tool is broken into four sections.


  • Sales Strategy
  • Go-To-Market
  • Sales Force Design
  • Sales Infrastructure


Alex and I answered each one of these questions. As you will see in the tool your averages are calculated along the right hand side. Needless to say Alex found out he had a bunch of gaps. He was a little bit embarrassed at first.


I turned to him and said, “We walked through this exercise because it helps you prioritize. When I overlay this with what you shared with me yesterday, Account Segmentation is your number one project. Followed by Sales Enablement. You have to move top down from sales strategy to sales infrastructure. Cut the noise and don’t let HR stress you out over the compensation plan. Right now it takes a back seat along with the dashboards and territories.”


Easy for you to say! You don’t have HR and Sales Managers yelling at you!” Alex responded. “Fair enough,” I responded. “That brings me to benchmarking. The way we can solve this problem is by blending what we should be doing with the quantitative data. Let’s take the next step and perform a benchmarking analysis. This will determine where you stand compared to Great/Good/Average/Bad/Ugly. We can then blend the results with our qualitative data and report back to your leadership team. The rich data will enable you to build a project roadmap with your team. It should also neutralize the “flavor of the week” stressful projects.”


Call to Action:

Identifying what we should be doing and benchmarking the organization will reduce stress. The rich data will provide us with credibility and enable strategic conversations.


Consider benchmarking to crystallize your gaps and build a roadmap for success.