Top 10 List: Sales Effectiveness


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Gwynne Young
Managing Editor, CustomerThink

Posted 15-Feb-2005 02:21 PM will be focusing on sales effectiveness in March. How do you increase sales effectiveness for your business? Do you have any pointers for motivating your managers or your reps? What are your keys for a healthy relationship with marketing?

I’m interesting in reading your top 10 list of pointers for increasing sales effectiveness.

Mike Ehrensberger

Posted 21-Feb-2005 08:08 AM
The definition of efficiency is “doing things right”, the definition of effectiveness is “doing the right thing”. Hence sales effectiveness is all about doing the right thing to win the business. Sales effectiveness takes planning and execution, it takes a lot of thought and effort from both the sales manager and each member of the sales team.

Sales effectiveness first and foremost requires an understanding of the prospect’s problem or need-to-buy as opposed to concentrating on the sales person’s need-to-sell. It requires positioning the sales person’s solution in the context of the prospect’s need-to-buy.

The sales manager’s job is to clearly define and manage the sales process. The sales manager, like an athletic coach, must provide the sales team a playbook on how to win and then monitor activity against that playbook.

For sales effectiveness the sales manager needs to define and institutionalize a sales process.
1. Define the major milestones (phases) of the sales cycle
2. Define the “best sales practices” to be accomplished within each sales phase
3. Identify win/lose factors that are proven indicators of success/failure
4. Develop suggested actions and activities (guided selling) based on the common win/lose factors

The sales professional must concentrate on understanding the needs of the prospect, planning and execution; and, in that order. This insures a ready, aim, fire approach as opposed to ready, fire, aim approach. Specifically the professional sales person needs to:

5. Research, understand, and capture the prospect’s vision and goals
6. Determine the prospect’s need-to- buy based on the vision and goals
7. Position their solution, in writing, based on the need-to-buy
8. Accurately chart the decision making process to determine who must be called on next to move the prospect to a close
9. Embrace the sales process
10. Bring significant value to every face-to-face sales call via a written sales call plan.

Implementing the above insures both sales effectiveness as well as scalability to a growing sales organization.

Mike Ehrensberger
[email protected]

Doug LeFever

Posted 04-Mar-2005 06:10 AM
One simple idea. Capture the processes that your best in class sales reps are performing each day and automate them. I learned this from my own SFA project experience. We rolloed out a Siebel system to our sales force 3 years ago. I was the project manager. We thought we had a “best in class” SFA system. Siebel told us this! And we DID have a best in class system from a user adoption standpoint (the reps quarterly compensation was tied in the their use of the system). Following the rollout, I took on new responsibilities as a sales district manager. What I found was dissapointing. Yes, reps were using the system daily for each sales call, but the system was NOT helping the average performing rep to sell more effectively. Long story short, our SFA focused on (1) rep efficiencies and (2) sales management reporting. We did not focus on the BIG win, sales effectiveness. The tools that our best in class reps use on a daily basis were not automated in the SFA. HUGE learing! In summary, best sales force effectiveness starts with capturing and automating the best in class processes that your best in class reps perform every day.

Brandon Rowe

Posted 08-Mar-2005 06:51 AM
For Effective Sales…think methodology. Think Intelligent Prospect Acquisition.

“Sales effectiveness” comes down to “sales methodology.” Mike Ehrensberger of Sales Force Systems summed it up great in his list of pointers when he speaks of defining and institutionalizing the sales process. Of course we could assume that his 10 pointers are the only pointers to follow and in reality they could be utilized and perfected in any organization’s “sales methodology”. However, (and I am sure Mike would agree to some extent) the truth is that methods are both controlled by the corporate culture, product and services being offered and in many cases the actual rep or distributor in the field.

Let us not forget that a company possesses sales channels. Like an onion, these channels can be complex layers that make ultimate sales effectiveness more difficult to measure, manage and enhance. The ultimate buyer of a company’s widget may be a consumer (prospect) which is sold at the retail level through a wholesale channel. This, in some cases, is considered the distributor. So the ownership of the “prospect” remains in the hands of the distributor and rarely accessed or even owned by the company who manufactures the “widget”. This is where many companies loose sales effectiveness because they loose control of the prospect.

When speaking on sales effectiveness we cannot put all the pressure on the sales force as a whole. The proverbial “third wheel” is a company’s marketing department whose job it is to develop client acquisition campaigns that includes direct marketing to generate leads for the sales force and drive brand recognition. Unfortunately, how many stories of finger pointing have we all heard when executive management demands answers to why quotas are not being met? The latest report from the CMO Council titled “Gauging The Cost Of What’s Lost” indicates nearly 50% of respondents say collaborative relationship between marketing and sales at their company is more on the negative “adversarial” side than positive.

Topping off the difficulties to sales effectiveness is a subject of another article and cannot be defined in this piece. These are “Do Not Call” and “SPAM” laws. It is expected that 95% of American consumers will be on the “Do Not Call Registry” by end of 2005. B2B selling is not immune to the laws and fines associated with them will single-handedly change the face of prospect contact as we know it.

The Facts: Problems in today’s selling environment are generating concerns by management causing a paradigm shift in sales methodology which includes sales effectiveness.

We Believe In “Strategic Prospecting”.

First, let’s throw out some statistics reported last year by a study from the CSO Insights:

50% of sales organizations do not have a formal sales methodology in place
50% of sales reps are not meeting quota
90% of sales deals do not close as forecasted

We ask our clients one question:

“How much revenue is lost as a result of poor prospect harvesting practices in your sales organization?”

ANSWER: The CMO Council Reports says up to 20% lost revenue with 72.2% saying 10% or more.

Sales effectiveness begins with generating warm and hot leads. On the outside a sales rep will tell you they love to cold call and prospect. However, a recent article I read indicated that most sale people would rather have dental work over prospecting. The first and most effective step to sales effectiveness is generating warm or hot leads taking cold calling out of the sales cycle. We call it the “Pavlovian Sales” effect. Give a rep a warm or hot lead and watch them “salivate” with anticipation and eagerly respond.

To begin our top 10 list we cover four important aspects of sales methodology:

1. Generate qualified leads and prioritize them
2. Sort and identify the right potential contact and engage them
3. Capture a prospect’s attention
4. Acquire a meeting

Like a resume is designed to land an interview, prospecting methodology and its accompanying tools are designed to “acquire a meeting”. The meeting is the obvious next step towards closing that sales cycle and landing the deal. In most sales organizations not landing the meeting is not getting the deal.

The remaining six are support pointers to help guarantee a company generates those qualified, sorted and prioritized leads. (Note: Not in order of importance)

5. WORK TOGETHER: Work with your marketing department not against them. Make sure you are a synergistic team and require that marketing associates and managers spend time in the field with the sales force. They need to see what you go through on a daily basis.
6. GET SMART: Quit relying on “dumb” marketing collateral and add measured intelligence to your prospecting tools.
7. REPLICATE ASSETS: Define and reproduce your top sales people’s skill sets, presentation methods, activities and follow-up techniques and develop prospect acquisition tools (collateral) for the use of all sales channels in the field.
8. PERSONALIZE: Personalize and update content bringing the prospect into the presentation experience and making sure all content is the latest the company has to offer
9. TRACK RESULTS: Track your prospect’s activity to as many layers of the channel as definable. Use measurement tools to track successes and integrate these tools directly into your existing CRM or other contact management software
10. ALERT NOTIFY: And most importantly, (Remember the Pavlovian Sales Effect). Timing can be everything in sales. Make sure your prospect acquisition tools alert notify the rep, distributor and/or sales manager immediately when a prospect has interest in your product or service.


11. PERSONAL INTERACTION: Get you sales people back in the field and out from behind their desk.

In today’s technologically advanced society, there is no reason for any sales rep to be sitting behind a desk when they need to be out pressing the palms of those prospects that are not just ready but ready NOW. Pareto’s Principle of 80/20 says that sales effectiveness relies on the rep concentrating on the 20% of prospects who are “ready now”. Most reps are not productive and missing quotas because they spend their time on the 80% who are not ready now prospects. In order to achieve “sales effectiveness” a company must first implement a “sales methodology” that concentrates on the prospect first, customer second. Keep in mind that before they can become a “customer” they must first become a “prospect”.

Brandon Rowe
Vice President, Marketing
IntelleDisc Technologies, Inc.
Prospect Acquisition Site
[email protected]


Posted 11-Sep-2005 12:40 PM
I will leave the lengthy discussions to the variety of other’s posting, however, I will sum up my experience from both sides of the coin as a consumer and also from the sales perspective in statement: “Follow-up”.

Regardless of the product or service, it is the vendor that continually follows-up with its prospects through heck and high water, through the million other things going on in a consumer’s life (regardless of executive level or demographic) that is the one that will eventually get a sale. The sale may not be a first round sale, but if the original vendor drops the ball or the consumer is unhappy with their original purchase, you’ll get the follow-up, aftermarket or replacement sale.

Obviously, I haven’t even touched on the best of the best sales techniques, etc., because there is enough on the net from enough ‘experts’ and hopefully, you know what works for yourself and your product. I’m just stating the very basic of basics outside of various other customer service, marketing/product branding and sales processes.

This is, of course, my humble opinion.

Bonnie Buchanan
Independence2, LLC
i.2 Commercial Door Hardware—Where We Honor The Distributor.


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