With the sales function in most companies looking remarkably like production did prior to the industrial revolution we can apply the same division of labor principles to the selling function in order to increase productivity or in this case “sales”.
The primary duty of a sales person is to convert new opportunities into a sale but most companies do not allow them to perform that duty because salespeople are increasingly expected to perform non-selling activities such as customer service and even fulfillment duties. By assigning the non-selling activities to other positions in the organization, a sales person will be able to increase performance of their primary duty of converting opportunities into sales. But who in the organization should the non-selling activities be assigned to and how do all of those people and activities work together to increase the number of opportunities for the sales person? The positions and their respective duties should include:
The Promotions Coordinator is responsible for communicating the product or service offering to targeted prospects in order to generate leads. What is your company doing to keep the top of the funnel full?
The Sales Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that leads are followed up with by the sales people and that the sales people’s calendars are full at all times with business development meetings. They are also responsible for communicating the result of those meetings to the departments responsible for fulfillment and ongoing customer service. At the end of the day, sales people should only be reading what is in the CRM and not entering data.
The Technical Team is responsible for maintaining selling capacity by developing unique offerings to the market, providing marketing materials, automating standardized communications, and monitoring key activities such as business development meetings and conversion of opportunities into sales.
The Salesperson should only be responsible for conducting the business development meetings and converting the opportunities into sales. Additionally, a company may be able to decrease the amount of sales people since non-selling activities can be performed by more administrative and technical skilled staff.
The number of people dedicated to the above listed positions will vary depending on the size of the company, the amount of products, and the number of opportunities that are being generated by effective marketing but by having the right people in the right positions with the right procedures and the right promotions for the right product, a company will maximize the amount of selling opportunities and can guarantee an increase in their sales.
Ask any sales manager about the need for continuous sales training and you instantly get agreement that it is important. So why isn’t there more of it going on? The fact is, most money spent on sales training is wasted. Typically, it annoys the sales team, disrupts your sales opportunities, bores the talented team members, and is totally forgotten within 30 days.
This is true for three reasons:
1) Credibility – “Who is this sales seminar leader and why on earth should I follow his/her advice?”
2) Relevance – “Maybe this stuff works in the X industry, but I don’t see how it applies here.”
3) Reinforcement – “I’ll implement these new ideas just as soon as I have the time.”
You can get around these issues and realize a greater ROI from your training budget with an internal “Sales Excellence Committee”. Put the best of your best sales talent on it. (i.e., those who are most respected by the rest of the team) and that alone will take care of missing links one and two.
Next, provide proof that you’re serious about using the knowledge of these folks for the benefit of all your reps. In other words, provide funding for and relentlessly conduct monthly 1/2 day “SEC” meetings. Their objective is to identify, clarify and communicate sales best practices and integrate them into tactical actions that produce the fastest, most tangible results for your business.
At the risk of being repetitive …the mission of your Sales Excellence Committee is to:
1st – Identify the best sales practices of your best reps
2nd – Clarify – write them down in specific detail
3rd – Communicate – make sure ALL your reps know how to replicate the power of each best practice.
Many firms find it helpful to use an outside facilitator to start and keep the ball rolling. This person would need all the classic qualifications of a sales trainer PLUS expertise in knowledge management and process engineering. Your best reps will always be the best source of sales tactics and strategies that work. Don’t waste time and money on standardized sales training. Tap into the gold mine you already have on the payroll. Fund it. Plan it. Do it.