As we move into the last part of the year, managers have intensified their focus on how to increase sales productivity. Short-term fixes such as new technology, revising comp plans and quick-hit training programs seem to be the first place managers look but these approaches aren’t enough to generate long-term success. So what does change sales productivity results?
The reality is that long-term success is always driven by focusing on four things that matter: people, process, methods and tools.
In Eades and Sullivan’s excellent book, The Collaborative Sale, they claim that today’s buyer-driven world should prompt sellers to align and collaborate with buyers during the sales process. Eades and Sullivan cite research by the Aberdeen Group on how the world’s best performing companies drive organizational change and improve sales performance. Aberdeen found that there are three strategies the top companies use:
1. Right People: The best companies assess their current sales talent and ask, Does it match to what is required today to be successful? They then align their hiring and development practices to those profiles.
2. Right Process: The top companies re-engineer and align the sales process to fit current buyer behaviors.
3. Right Tools:Top performing companies integrate their best sales practices with supporting tools and technologies.
It is important to note that the best companies do not implement a price and product strategy to change their sales results (a common strategy used by mortgage companies). Aberdeen found that top companies used three tactics to facilitate sales improvement:
• Revisit the sales role and define what should it look like today and for the future to ensure they are hiring the right type of person for a new buyer’s marketplace.
• Identify training, coaching and skills development requirements for the new position.
• Align job aids and tools into a focused curriculum for the revised sales role.
Eades and Sullivan also recommend a formal certification of sales mastery by the sales person on certain competencies as evaluated by managers in the field. The purpose of this approach is to provide exactly what each seller needs to fully develop a particular sales competency.
When comparing this approach to the typical training effort where a general topic is given to every sales person hoping that something will hit home and make a difference, the one-size-fits-all just doesn’t work anymore for customers or employees. The better approach is individualized learning and development that is tailored for the specific needs of each sales person. Not only is it more relevant to the originator, but an individual approach is more likely to be put in practice.
What should this individual learning look like? Eades and Sullivan believe that it should be based on 10-20-70 philosophy. i.e.10% is formal instruction (blended learning—live and online); 20% is learning from peers and the sharing of best practices and results; and 70% is real-world-based where managers or third parties evaluate and measure how well the employee is using the new sales behaviors.
Are your managers delivering a personalized improvement approach to their originators? If not, contact me to learn how to implement this strategy.