It is the most common question you ask when you have a sales dilemma. How have other people solved this problem? And how quickly have they solved it? Getting the right answer is difficult. If you choose the wrong advice, the problem can get worse. Not only can it get worse but take more time to notice poor results. But if you choose best practice, you can solve this issue much quicker. And with increased productivity.
But where do you turn to get this best practice?
Download our Peer Benchmarking Checklist. This list will:
- Determine what type of problem it is ( i.e. Acquiring New Customers, Talent Selection)
- Pinpoint where to turn to for best practice (i.e. Social Media)
- Test the solution if it is actually best practice or a ‘snake oil’ solution
- Give simple instructions on actually implementing the solution
There are 3 ways to benchmark your peers when looking for a solution. You need to look at all 3 in order to find those best practices. Only using one or two could give you a poor answer and waste time. Implementing a poor answer leads to further amplifying the problem. Lost sales, turnover and quota miss are typically the result.
- Peer to Peer Best Practice Sharing: Knowing who to talk to is more important then what to ask. One reason you build your Linked In network is to turn to your peers. Knowing fellow Sales VPs from leading companies helps uncover these hidden solutions. Here’s why this works:
- You get the chance to pose your problem transparently. These conversations lead to either a solution or another referral to solve the issue.
- Discussing the issue with a third party allows for unbiased feedback. Being too close to a problem often leads to poor decisions to solve it.
- Contact at least 3 peers. Companies need to deploy solutions based on best practices and their culture. Similar problems can be solved differently depending on the specific situation. Getting three separate opinions allows you to view these solution differences.
- Benchmarking Data: Many companies can provide benchmarking data for you (including ours). It’s not about the data though. It is about what the combinations of the metrics tell us. For example:
- A high win rate doesn’t necessarily mean your team is good at closing business. One client of ours had extremely high win rates. Looking closer revealed their sales people entered in CRM data at a late stage. They were manipulating the CRM only putting in opportunities they were going to close!
- Pay attention to how your sales team is evolving. A chaotic sales team might have much higher win rates than a predictable one. Yet the predictable sales team will generate more revenue consistently. When looking at data, make sure it applies to your geography, industry and sales force maturity.
- Please note: Often data gets released to everyone in general. There is no specificity to it such as industry, revenue amount or sales force maturity. Look at the example below. Notice the similarities and differences of benchmarking data between regions. Applying a ‘peanut butter spread’ approach across this company would be wrong
- Social Media: Actively participate in groups, especially on Linked In. Pick out of three categories: Sales VPs, Industry Specific Sales VPs, and Specialized Sales. Don’t just join them but engage with their members. You can get these best practices from reaching out or proposing questions to the member. Reaching across all of these will net the best practices.
What you should do now:
- Make sure you know the true root problem. Most Sales VP try to solve a symptom rather than a problem. Uncovering what others are doing first starts with identifying what you are solving for.
- Don’t just talk to one peer. The key to finding the best solution for your team is to use all three methods above. Think about how what you find out others are doing applies to your situation
- Most of the time spent on a solution is adoption. Change is typically your biggest enemy. Solving the problem is not only finding out what others are doing. It is getting your team to adopt the new solution. Plan to spend 80% of your time on reinforcement and adoption
Benchmarking your peers is extremely valuable. Download the Peer Benchmarking Checklist to determine if anyone else has solved your problem. If you don’t, you can go off on a wild solution goose chase leaving you to miss the number.