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34 Winning Edge

pplying performance then the results are generally worse Looking at sales process and sales

management than if you had done nothing. In other knowledge management, it is useful
principles to sales words, commitment and leadership to use the model to ensure you have
makes good are critical success factors in this mix. considered all aspects of the initiative.
business sense in To support this I’ll recommend three If the initiative is focused on skills and
any operating or initiatives and supporting actions knowledge then consider the impact
economic climate. structured as a 30, 60 and 90 day plan. or what needs to be done in the
But the current I’d like to position the areas I other two – say if you implement a
downturn, and the recommend in the context of the knowledge management resource
resulting nervousness it generates factors involved in an individual’s then also look at the motivational
within prospects and customers, is performance. This bears a direct aspects to ensure its use.
having a significant impact on the relationship to the way you approach
volume of opportunities and the sales performance management. The Sales knowledge
cycle time. It is essential for any model (see diagram) shows the three management (SKM)
manager to ensure the resources they factors that influence an individual’s Ensuring your sales team has the best
have at their disposal are being used performance. Each one is important in possible information available to
in the most effective way. its own right but when combined they them is something most companies
Those who invest in their teams and present a model or picture of overall strive for. There are intranets bursting
improve both the individual and team motivation and effectiveness. at the seams with information on
sales effectiveness will be the winners almost all of the SKM topics shown in
today, tomorrow and in the longer the graph (see overleaf). The issue we
term. While hard decisions in the Skills and hear the most is that because there is
current climate have to be made, knowledge so much information, what you want
cutting back on sales is a risky is often difficult to find. Finding a way
strategy as the market needs top to establish what is most useful,
talent, there is a six to nine month Working Motivation when, and in what context starts a
ramp up time for a new hires and you environment and drive process that leads to giving real
can lose relationships with customers information benefit to sales reps.
and prospects. From a sales performance
Earlier this year, the 2009 CSO management perspective the SKM
Insights Sales Performance Looking at the model, it’s probably goal is always about raising
Optimization report listed the top fair to say that most companies performance in the most effective way
sales effectiveness initiatives invest in training their sales teams possible. The list of priorities shown is
identified by sales leaders. I have and they recruit people who have a great start for any company, but I
picked two that are in the top four – demonstrated a track record of sales urge you to look hard at what can be
sales knowledge management and competence. If this is the case, the done quickly and effectively before
sales process – that I believe are key ‘skills and knowledge’ bubble is taken kicking off a major SKM programme.
to sales performance management care of or is fairly easily fixed. The The people who know what would
and I also discuss ways to tackle all other two are more complex. be the most useful are the sales reps
aspects of sales effectiveness as I Personal motivation and drive are themselves. Ask them. If you have
believe they are all important. infectious, both within the team and access to win-loss analysis then this
As CSO Insights notes overall, the with clients. My experience suggests can provide valuable insights into
stronger the relationship with your this goes both ways. If someone is some of the SKM factors that either
customer base, and the more dynamic negative, lacks enthusiasm and is had a positive or negative impact on
the nature of your sales process, the always moaning about how it is not the outcome.
better the result. It is a powerful their fault, then this will negatively Once you have decided on a
combination that results in significant affect others. particular SKM area to work on,
differences in performance ranging The working environment can be engage the sales team and in
from ‘sleepless nights’ through to summed up as the prevailing culture, particular the top performers, as they
‘successful years’. Those in the management style, processes and will know the answers to some of the
‘successful years’ categories achieve: procedures. These have an equally issues. For example if the chosen area
■ 13% more sales representatives positive or negative impact on a sales to start with is objection handling, then
making quota or above executive. If the other two bubbles are working with the team to identify the
■ 10% more companies achieving positive and in good shape but the top 10 or 20 objections should be fairly
their sales targets. working environment makes the straightforward. Then use experts to
First I’d like to suggest a heath internal sales process as hard as craft the response. They could be
warning. It has been my experience selling and closing the deal, then from sales, product specialisms,
that when changes are made that are it will negatively impact the professional services or marketing.
not followed through or seen to be effectiveness and motivation of a When considering the delivery
supported by the management team, salesperson. mechanism for the information,

Winning Edge 35
approach. My view is that it does
SALES KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT almost the opposite. If the sales

IMPROVEMENT PRIORITIES process is viewed as a framework

then individual style and flair can be
Competitive analysis information
accommodated within it. The benefits
Best practices used by the salesforce then accrue as more consistency
Strategic account plans builds. New hires come up to speed
Customer objection handling information quicker, the extended sales team have
Customer references/case studies a better view of what is expected of
Details of customers and prospects them, and best practice can be
Proposal templates/business case samples identified and structured in the
Details of customers’ and prospects’ executives context of each sales stage.
Details of past/current marketing/selling efforts
When defining the sales
Customer/prospect contact information
methodology or process my strong
Details of past customer purchases
recommendation is that you do not
overcomplicate it. We have completed
Source: CSO Insights 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% the design, overlaid forecasting,
applied compliance and governance
take a careful to look at how and ■ Review the success of the first, and got extended sales team
when it would be used. If it can be reflect lessons learnt in the next two. involvement in a day. Obviously this
made available in a form that is the 90 DAYS depends on the complexity of the
most useful to the sales rep, then it ■ Consider a wider programme to solution you sell, your markets and
will get used. If not, then its use will involve the lifecycle of leads though the complexity of the customers’
be patchy at best. When we are to sales to fulfilment. buying cycles. But just be aware of
constructing SKM solutions we use ■ Review the first three factors and overcomplicating the approach and
the following to guide us: support a wider programme based overengineering the sales process
■ The sales rep has the attention span on success. itself. Look at the sales process more
of 5 to 10 seconds ■ Consider distributing the ownership as a framework than a highly detailed
■ “I want it and I want it now,” is seen and responsibility for content to set of flow diagrams that ends up not
as a reasonable request by a sales rep individuals who are: being used because no one can follow
■ If it takes more than two to three – Highly respected within the it, or sales reps will lose the will to live
clicks to get what they want there is a company when looking at it.
danger they will give up. – Have a vested interest in the content
These are bit tongue-in-cheek but being the best it can be 30 DAYS
are useful guidelines when looking at – Are goaled in some way to ensure ■ Assemble a small number of
how the information will be accessed the currency and validity of the respected individuals from marketing,
and structured. If the information can content. sales and professional services to
be delivered in the context of the task form the core team.
in hand then so much the better. The Sales process ■ Using a facilitator (consider an
less a rep has to worry about where The CSO Insights reports indicates external professional) map the
information is the more focus or that a dynamic sales process is one process from lead to closing the deal.
opportunity they have to prepare that is being reviewed regularly. Reflect this in your CRM system.
for their next meeting. Here is my Lessons learnt are reflected back into ■ Develop a series of short
suggested start to SKM. the process. This aspect of dynamic communication and training sessions
process improvement is one that can for all stakeholders on the new or
30 DAYS be achieved with limited effort and redefined sales process.
■ Catalogue what is already available, can help immediately. It clearly sets 60 DAYS
in what format and where it is located. up a positive long-term approach. ■ Set up review sessions to evaluate
■ Work with the sales team to identify Having said that, the report also how the process is being adopted and
the top three SKM factors that would suggests that a significant number of where it is being successful. Publish
make the most difference to them. companies have no sales process or it the results.
■ Pick the one that has the closest fit is random or informal. Companies in ■ Look for the early wins and
to the following: these categories can run the risk of communicate.
– Can be completed within 30 days over-reliance on the top few sales ■ Build the process into new hire
– Has the highest benefit for the executives. They are not in a position training.
least cost to capitalise on best practice as there 90 days
– Easy implementation. is no way of modelling their success. ■ Start a quarterly review of best
60 DAYS I often hear the criticism that the practice and build into the individual
■ Progress the implementation of the sales process constrains the sales sales stages. I’d recommend each
other two identified factors. team, making them conform to a set review covers just two or maybe three

36 Winning Edge

of the sales stages. Document in the the morale and level of sales activity just reviewing the measurements at a
context of the sales stage. can increase as individuals see that distance. Get back to the basics...
■ Check that the forecast process something is being worked on that
maps to the new sales process and could have a positive influence on ■ Define performance – reflect on the
adjust as necessary. their ability to close business. But need for sustainable performance
■ Issue the updated sales process starting this process and then improvement. Does your definition
confirming the commitment to abandoning it, for good or bad support this? For example, is
continually review and update. reasons, will result in a negative performance only defined as the sales
■ At every opportunity (one-on-one impact on the team as expectations target or does it look further, maybe to
sales review, team events and are raised and then effectively dashed. the pipeline for next year’s business?
communications) reinforce the ■ Observe performance – there is
message and success of the change. 30 DAYS nothing like being out in the field
Implementing a new sales process is ■ Structure a workshop around the meeting customers and watching the
more about a change programme three bubble model. Work out the performance of your sales executives.
than it is about a defining and blocks and barriers and potential ■ Coach for performance – understand
implementing a new process. actions to address. the principles of coaching; give
■ Review and implement feedback and support.
Sales effectiveness achievable, low cost options ■ Reward performance – while this
Strategies that underpin and communicate. seems obvious, ensure the reward
a sustainable ‘It’s relatively ■ Plan to address the system is geared to behaviour or
performance easy to identify rest in the context of approach as well as the sale.
improvement in sales other more strategic ■ Review performance – at each
are being positioned the main barriers approaches. quarterly sales review allocate time to
along with sales and work out how 60 DAYS looking at what worked well and what
knowledge ■ If it hasn’t come up, didn’t. Identify the aspects of the sales
management. The
they could be review the effectiveness function that can be built on and areas
various initiatives that addressed’ of lead generation that require some attention.
are being considered or activity, what defines a lead Sales performance management
undertaken by the companies and the handover from is about measurement, but it is also
surveyed in the CSO Insights marketing to sales. about the individual, the team and
2009 report also include ■ Revisit the qualification process and, the wider or extended sales team. It
improving lead generation, in the light of the above, consider a encompasses the sales culture within
better aligning sales and marketing, review and update. In any economic the organisation and its processes and
analysing buying processes, channel climate working on deals that are procedures. Put like this, any changes
strategies and so on. My belief is that either not going to close, or bend the in the performance management of a
all of the items are important and company out of shape in trying to fulfil sales function can look too daunting to
should be considered as part of any them, are wasteful in time and effort. contemplate. I suspect for most sales
plan to bring a more sustainable ■ Communicate the progress of the leaders the ‘do nothing’ option is one
approach to sales growth. other recommendations. that can only lead to their own demise.
However, before we run off with the 90 DAYS The hardest bit is where to start.
sales equivalent to the elixir of life I ■ Measure and review the results in My advice is to pick an area that has
would urge you to consider that many the context of the sales process; adjust the most impact in the short term and
of the answers are already known in the plan accordingly. also builds for the future. If it were me
your organisation. Your sales and ■ Build sales effectiveness into each I’d probably start with the team (as
marketing team know the issues that one-on-one review and team meeting. proposed in the ‘sales effectiveness’
face them on a daily basis and some ■ As a leader of the sales team put section) and in parallel work through
of them will have worked out what time into your diary to observe what is the performance list above (define,
would help them the most. working and what isn’t by going out observe, coach, reward, review).
Using the three-bubble individual- with your reps on sales calls.
performance model it is relatively easy
to identify the main barriers and work
I mentioned that sales performance
management is as much about the
out how they could be addressed. people as it is about measurement.
This approach does not preclude any Measurement does play an important David Batup is managing partner of
strategic initiatives being considered, role in the ongoing process of Perperitus, a specialist in developing
such as sales knowledge continual improvement. But sales knowledge management
management, but does have the measuring the results is not enough. solutions for direct and partner
immediate impact on the team, in that Getting through the current climate channel sales teams. Visit
their views and opinions are being needs leadership and communication. or call
heard and potentially acted on. I urge sales leaders to engage with 01189 654066. CSO Insights is at
If carried out in a professional way, performance management rather than

Winning Edge 37