This is an exclusive summary of Part 3 of the MDM Webcast series, Build an Effective Sales Organization for the Recovery, available on DVD. In this session, Mike Marks and Steve Deist of Indian River Consulting Group spoke on Tools for Effective Sales Management. This article looks at the foundation for implementing changes to the sales process.
Distributors can take different approaches to implementing change to its sales organizations. But most successful change shares five characteristics, says Steve Deist of Indian River Consulting Group.
“These are lessons we’ve learned though actual implementations over 10-plus years,” he says.
1. Align with strategy
Part of the challenge of implementing new processes is allowing priorities to be priorities, Deist says. “It’s often very eye-opening because once a client tries to list all the things they want somebody to do, they realize they’ve given them a mission impossible by setting 20 priorities for them,” he says.
“If anybody has 20 top priorities, they have no top priorities.”
Instead, develop the strategy you want your sales team to focus on and allow them to focus on it, Marks says. Not doing so “is like taking a Navy SEAL team and putting them in charge of mall security,” he says. This requires evaluating that list of priorities and determining what the sales team should not be doing.
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2. Performance accountability
Making people accountable for performance is not solely about making the reps accountable, Deist says. “It’s making sure we’re giving sales reps clear marching orders and that we’re providing them the tools so they can succeed.”
There needs to be commitment on all levels of an organization on expectations and performance measures.
3. Create conditions for learning and ownership
Once you’ve established clear expectations, they will start to notice deficiencies in their process and stress that can result from those deficiencies.
“That stress is what causes people to send you an e-mail saying ‘I’d love you to send me to a negotiating class because I feel that’s a weakness,'” Deist says.
Once they recognize where deficiencies lie, work together to determine necessary tools to achieve goals.
“If you want somebody to fundamentally do something different, you can’t force them to do it,” Deist says. Instead, you have to make them want the same changes you do.
4. Give more than we take
“The most fundamental problem is people throw more stuff on the sales force, but they don’t give more than they take and it ends up being a disaster,” Deist says.
In particular, about 70 percent of customer relationship management programs fail because they don’t mesh with the goals of the organization, he says. The programs are data entry intensive, they threaten sales rep autonomy, and they don’t account for the unique situation of the organization.
There has to be a reward for implementing changes, whether it is more time to focus on the job the sales force was hired to do or making it easier to communicate updates to customers and prospects.
5. Proactive management
“It’s simply not possible to manage results,” Deist says. Instead, focus on managing activities and measuring results.
For example, sales reps will likely see value in continuing to provide bids to a potential customer who has rejected his last 10 bids. Management may need to step in and say no and encourage the rep to spend more time on more productive activities, Deist says.
Applying the Lessons
These five principles are the foundation for any implementation, but they are also a guide for evaluating the implementation as it moves forward, Deist says.
“Do yourself a favor and use these as the starting point,” he said.
“The results measurement is obviously a critical piece to make sure we know how well we’re doing not just on hitting our financial objectives, but how well we’re doing on hitting our strategic objectives.”