Sales Force Effectiveness: Plan for 2010


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What’s your sales force effectiveness plan for 2010? Photograph by yusunkwon.

One question we frequently hear is, “What’s the next improvement I should make to my field sales program, to take it to the next level?” (Oftentimes, we get asked “what next?” because it’s time for a sales group to submit its budget for next year, and they need a plan now.)

Many organizations, for example, would love to improve:

  • Sales efficiency, to enable salespeople to log more calls per week
  • Pipeline visibility, to increase the number of leads that get converted to sales
  • Training programs, to get salespeople into the field more quickly
  • Forecasting, to reduce the time required to post a sales forecast
  • Relationship management, to increase customer and partner loyalty, thus improving revenues

So, what’s the best field force sales CRM program capability to invest in, to witness those types of returns?

Sales Effectiveness: 5 Capabilities Required

Answering that question starts by knowing what you’re good at, and what you’re not so good at. To help, we’ve identified the five capabilities that are required to create a field force program that excels:

  • Relationship Management: Master the “people” part of the CRM equation
    • Capture, store, share and retrieve key contact details
    • Plan, share and update information on all customer-related activities
    • Seek out new business opportunities within new or existing accounts
    • Hone the skills that sales teams require to stay competitive
  • Sales Force Management: Create effective sales teams
    • Create a strategy for prioritizing accounts
    • Coach salespeople, because feedback leads to perfection
    • Train salespeople on products, processes, tools and in new skills
    • Foster motivation and maintain accountability
  • Territory Management: Match the right effort with the right activity
    • Prioritize activities by segmenting customers
    • Practice account planning, with objectives driven by sales strategy
    • Identify the best-fit customers and prospects using list management
    • Pursue cross-functional collaboration with other customer-facing teams
  • Pipeline Management: Practice the art and science of advancing a deal
    • Manage opportunities from lead acceptance to deal-closing
    • Plan and properly prepare for customer calls
    • Understand all contracts and related milestones
    • Practice knowledge management for maintaining account information
  • Sales Force Measurement: Know if you are destined for success
    • Identify, monitor and measure key metrics
    • Forecast future sales revenue based on deal size and likelihood of closure
    • Analyze sales data and deliver relevant business intelligence
    • Track sales targets and gaps for both individuals and groups

Benchmark: Developing, Competitive or Advanced?

When creating a plan for improving your field force program, you first need to assess how sophisticated  your sales team is in each of the above areas. For activities, are you tracking past activities, and do you have a mechanism for tracking future activities? For prospecting, is it random, are you using a phone book, are you buying lists, or is there perhaps the expectation that the sales force must bring in 10 percent of its business through lead generation?

Based on its numerous client engagements, Innoveer maintains related benchmarks for each of the five capabilities above, as well as their components, which we use to help organizations assess how advanced they are in each area, to derive the  specific CRM enhancements they should make to produce the most benefit for their business.

At a high level of detail, for example, an assessment of a program’s forecasting ability, which is a critical component of sales force measurement, would typically categorize it as:

  • Developing: Create and aggregate forecasts manually
  • Competitive: Maintain data in a single, standardized format, for consistent forecasting
  • Advanced: Automate forecasting based on account pipeline activity, and validate forecasts with actual results

By studying each facet of your field force program, you’ll identify where you’re advanced or “good enough,” and what needs improving. And that’s where you should start.

Pain Points First, Please

When drawing up your 2010 budget and identifying the specific CRM functions you want to improve, it helps to have outside advice. For starters, that’s because—subconsciously or not—many organizations tend to continue investing in what they’re already good at. In fact, you want to do the opposite.

For example, if you have an advanced sales force measurement program, but poor visibility into your sales pipeline, then you will get much more bang for your buck by improving the latter. In fact, if you invest in what you’re already good at, but there are poor practices elsewhere, then you may see very little, if any, return on investment.

That’s why, whenever you improve the weakest link in your sales program, you’re making the entire program more effective. (In other words, getting more from your existing investments.) Because we’ve found that no matter how advanced you are in this or that competency, it’s the relatively poor practices that are holding you back. What’s required, then, is to identify which CRM program elements need the most improvement, and then pursue a plan for making them better.

Learn More

Innoveer offers a brief workshop—over one, two or three days—to help companies identify the cost, time and business benefits associated with achieving new and more mature—which is to say, more effective—CRM capabilities. During the workshop, Innoveer examines the five core elements of an organization’s field sales program, identifies the optimal enhancements, and produces specific, technology-agnostic recommendations for building 2010 plans and budgets, with detailed estimates of the required project time and costs to improve specific elements of your sales program.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


  1. Dear Sir,

    Do you offer any certification courses on basics of SFE.Can you suggest anysuch institutes in India.



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