How to Assess and Sequence Your Sales Initiatives


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A few weeks ago, I was talking to an SVP of sales. The topic was his number. The company’s revenue is in the $700M range. He had been given an aggressive goal for 2014. To say he was concerned about hitting the number would be a huge understatement. He was practically in a panic.

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“I completely lost the battle on the 2014 revenue number” he said. “My boss gave in to the CFO. I got out-negotiated. I am way behind where I need to be to make this happen. I have a bunch of initiatives I think I could implement. I know you tell me not to do too many things at once. If everything’s important than nothing is important – I get the point. But how do I decide which ones to execute on?”

The SBI Sales Initiative Assessment Tool has answers. Download it to get a framework for you and your team to use right away. No matter what initiatives your sales organization is considering, this tool carefully evaluates them.

The Three Dimensions

There are three dimensions across which you should assess potential initiatives:

  • Level of Effort
  • Probability of Success
  • Possible Return

Level of Effort means how hard will the initiative be to pull off. For example, you may recognize that you have a massive demand generation problem. You may have developed a plan to close the gap. But given the current state of your organization, how hard will it be? Will it take too long? Do you have the people and the money?

Probability of Success means how likely is it that the initiative will succeed. Do you think that it will be rapidly adopted? How much disruption will it cause? Will the team see the need for the initiative and embrace it? Will managers get on board?

Possible Return means the size of the prize. You’ll have qualitative and quantitative ways to evaluate this. Will the initiative contribute meaningfully to your growth number? How much? Will it strengthen your position in the market? How about employee engagement and ancillary considerations – could the initiative positively affect these areas?

How to conduct the assessment

After you download the SBI Sales Initiative Assessment Tool, you’ll need to do a little customization. List the initiatives you’re evaluating. Look at the suggested statements below each of the 3 areas. Do they need to be edited? After you’ve done this, send the tool to your senior team. Ask each individual to complete it. Give them a few days. Tell them that they should not discuss their rankings with anyone at this point.

Next, have someone in sales ops aggregate the responses. This will produce an aggregate bubble chart.

Finally, schedule a call or meeting with the senior team. Dig into their rankings and responses. Look at the differences to learn what different team members think. Allow debate to occur – everyone has given you their individual opinion across each dimension. Whose arguments are more compelling? When you do this, you will inevitably encounter considerations you hadn’t thought of before.

Sequencing the chosen initiatives

The other piece of assessing initiatives is sequence. Now that you’ve determined which initiatives make the most sense, what’s the right order? Should you take the “right away and all at once” approach? Or tackle them one at a time?

My colleague Dan Perry wrote an excellent article on sequence. It is called How To Fix Your Sales Problems in the Right Order. Dan provides a sales force assessment framework. It helps you diagnose root problems.

Dan cites the example of a sales VP facing a decline in revenue. This Sales VP’s immediate reaction was to change the comp plan. “Let’s incent everyone to sell more new logo business” he said. “This will cause the behavior change we are looking for to make the number.”

He couldn’t have been more wrong. Fixing the compensation plan first was incorrect. Incenting new logo business only further frustrated the sales force. Why? The company had not performed any assessment of the number/geography of new logos. Some territories were great and some were horrible. Yet everyone had the same quota. The sales VP needed a sales force assessment framework to put these problems into. Only by doing this could he determine the proper sequence for solving them.

Assessing and then sequencing sales initiatives is critical. This is the job of the top sales leader. We’ve all watched new initiatives sink without a trace. Choosing the right ones in the right order exponentially increases your chances of success.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Synek
Mark Synek serves as a Principal at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a sales and marketing consultancy focused exclusively on helping B2B companies make the number. Mark is an industry thought leader, with deep experience as an executive. He has served in multiple positions as both a sales and operations leader, with a track record of outstanding performance in both capacities.


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