The Cost of Doing Nothing


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The problem with your sales force has been diagnosed. You’ve determined the requirements of any solution. Now it’s time to outline your options – and Do Nothing is one of them. This post gives you the reasons why “Do Nothing” is not the best option. If you do nothing else, you must get The Do Nothing Guide. It contains 20 categories for which to consider the impact of doing nothing. Read on to see how 2 companies fared when they chose to “do nothing”.

doing nothing is a poor option to sales problems

Problem 1: New hire reps take too long to be productive

Story: Kel International develops business to business applications for mobile devices. They have a wide product set and international customers. For multiple reasons, seller turnover tends to stay on the high side. HR does a great job in keeping a candidate pipeline full. However, new hires take about 12 months to reach full productivity. Hanna, an HR Business Partner to Sales, helped look into this. She found that there was not an onboarding program for new hire sellers.

Hanna worked with Sales to define what a Sales onboarding program should accomplish. Sales looked at Hanna’s problem description and suggestions. They decided to “do nothing” since they were consistently making the number. Hanna wasn’t pushing Sales too much as something else came up. Hanna was offered to help with a major initiative for international recruiting. She relinquished here chance to be an HR hero for Sales.

Impact: Although HR kept busy with recruiting, the performance management statistics weren’t good for sales. Some Sales Managers didn’t give enough attention to new hires. New hires were getting frustrated – many of them quitting before the 6th month. Those that stayed were taking all of the Sales Managers’ time for coaching. Star performers weren’t getting as much attention from Sales Managers as they wanted. So, some of these A players started to leave.

Sales Managers were overwhelmed with time commitments to constant new hires. Product Development was annoyed at the low new product sales. This is because Sales “didn’t have bandwidth” to learn and sell new products. They stayed in the comfort zone of legacy products they knew. Marketing was not happy with the inconsistency of Sales in delivering value propositions. Deal quality started to suffer (discounting was a widely used practice.) Customer complaints increased about the new “unknowing” account managers. Burnout settled in and Sales Managers started to leave.

Hanna finished the international recruiting initiative and returned to support Sales. She quickly realized there were more than onboarding problems now. However, she did what Oliver did – quantified the impact of not fixing onboarding. She convinced Sales that an onboarding program would help. They agreed, it was implemented, and they’re already getting results. Hanna won back her hero status.

Problem 2: Revenue performance inconsistencies

Story: Mete Products supplies businesses with high-dollar engineering products. After some great and average years, they had 6 quarters of bad sales. During this slump, Oliver (SVP Sales Operations) analyzed Sales to find the cause. He found a lack of a sales process to be the culprit. Oliver outlined what requirements a solution should have. But then, Mete caught some market tailwinds and had some blowout sales quarters. The pain was no longer acute, so Mete chose the “do nothing” option. No sales process was implemented since times were good again. Oliver didn’t push for it since he saw no appetite for it.

Impact: After 2 great quarters and serendipitous sales, Mete’s sales tanked again. This time it was worse, though. A coup in production was brewing – they were frustrated with the backlog-to-surplus swings caused by poor sales forecasting. A supplier couldn’t take the inconsistency in orders and went to a competitor.

The board had enough and fired the SVP of sales. The SVP of Sales took some of the top sales producers with him. These star sellers convinced some anchor accounts to move to the competition. Sellers that remained were not being developed in new sales practices – they became unmarketable. HR could not find enough interested candidates to fill open positions. The new candidates were savvy enough to smell a problematic sales force. The stock price dropped.

Oliver didn’t quit, no matter how bleak it looked. He quantified the impacts in a business case for implementing a sales process. Post-implementation, Mete has gotten back to average sales – trending upward. Forecasts are much more accurate now thanks to a standard sales process. Oliver now knows to uncover the impacts of “do nothing” early in the process.

Next Steps

Doing nothing is a prevalent option to solving problems. It usually holds the least short-term risk, both personally and corporately. It doesn’t require a committee’s unanimous decision. Many times it doesn’t even have a business case attached. Instead, just pointing out that “things are going well” is justification enough.

There may be a time for doing nothing. Download The Do Nothing Guide to understand impact before deciding on doing nothing. The guide includes questions for deciding whether doing nothing is worth it.

1. Start with the downloadable guide

2. Determine the impacts of doing nothing

3. Quantify those impacts

4. Build a business case to show that doing nothing is a bad option

5. Take a calculated risk for long-term gain and do something to fix sales problems

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Loftness
Steve has worked for more than 20 years in process design and implementation, as a certified Six Sigma Black Belt. While at Sales Benchmark Index, he has helped many B-to-B organizations eliminate non-value add selling activities resulting in productivity improvements of 20+%.


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