Believe it or not, in a few weeks, we’ll be head down budgeting for 2013, trying to figure out our priorities and the investment required to deliver on these important initiatives. Although budgets are never set in stone and will ebb and flow over the year, it behooves us to cover our bases so that we don’t miss anything substantial.
If you are planning any type of sales effectiveness initiative for 2013, here are five commonly missed items that can substantially impact your ability to deliver and achieve the expected result.
1) Strategy Execution Planning
This is an investment of some upfront planning work to really tee up a successful sales effectiveness initiative – whatever it may be. Once you have determined the strategic initiatives that you will undertake in 2013, it pays to sit down with someone who does this all day, every day. An expert will help you clarify your priorities, scope the right solution that will meet your needs, develop a realistic project plan for implementation, help you think through the change management implications, and how to integrate your vision with the systems and tools that you want to maintain. This planning activity also helps get leadership and other stakeholders bought into the initiative both financially and emotionally.
2) Establishment of Best Practices
This is an investment in capturing and documenting sales processes necessary to support your sales strategy. In many situations, you have people running around all doing their own thing. And, if you have a sales process, it might not be in sync with how your customers buy. At a minimum, you should capture your customer’s buying process and what you do best to align with this process. Once it is documented, you can put measures against it and then develop competencies, skills, and customer dialogue required to execute it. Just having that sales process documented and synthesized down to a two-sided laminate is a giant step forward because now you can at least manage to your process.
I’d also be remiss if I did not remind you to budget for customized sales training solutions. Yes, there is a lot of cheap, off-the-shelf courseware available. However, none of it will fit your unique sales strategy or leverage the unique strengths that help you compete. Your people simply won’t buy into generic training that doesn’t address the real challenges they face on the front lines. Don’t take the easy way out. Ensure that your sales training drives the behaviors necessary to deliver your sales strategy.
3) Evaluation of Talent
A lot of money gets spent on training people on skills they already have or don’t need, and training people who are so mismatched with their jobs that they will never be successful regardless of how much training you give them. Assessments are a quick, low-cost investment to help you identify developmental needs on an individual basis and to identify if a sales rep or a sales manager might be better suited to a different role in your organization. Assessments also give your managers insight on their reps to support better coaching. Again, investing a bit of money upfront will save you big down the road and make for a much more impactful sales improvement initiative.
4) Building capability and consistency
It is quite common for organizations to focus only on their sales reps and to overlook sales managers, sales leaders, and supporting functions. In this day and age, there are numerous linkages and interdependencies between sales, marketing, engineering, operations, and HR. These functions need to understand how your customers buy, your sales process, and how sales reps engage in sales dialogue with prospects.
Sales managers and leaders need to understand program content, but they also need to know what’s expected of them to support the overall sales improvement initiative. Even if they have a lot of experience, don’t assume that they know what they need to do differently. Take the time, make the investment, and train them so that they are all aligned and present a consistent message across the organization.
5) Sustaining the change effort
Sustainment must be given forethought and starts by getting leadership bought into the change or improvement initiative upfront. It is always a challenge to get senior leadership’s attention and to keep them engaged though out the initiative. Set aside budget for communication planning and execution.
At the sales rep level, research shows that they will forget 87% of what they learn within 30 days. Setting aside investment for continuous mobile-spaced learning and testing will extend their knowledge retention to nearly 2 years. Think of this as an insurance policy on a training or change event. A small investment will drive big results.
We know that budgeting is a very important activity to set the stage for success in 2013 and beyond. We have done this all day every day for the past 30 plus years. We can help you determine what you’ve missed or how to get a bigger bang for your buck. If you have any questions or need any help as you enter the budgeting process, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be pleased to be your thought partner through this important activity.