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Improve Sales Results in 2014 with Your Sales Performance Value Chain

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richardsonsalestraining6 January 2014Blog

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In 2014, how will you better enable and support your sales force? Do you plan to tackle a major sales force transformation, or …Do you aim to fine-tune the processes, systems, and tools that you have in place?

In either case, but certainly the latter, it makes sense to consider your Sales Performance Value Chain.

The Sales Performance What?

What's a Sales Performance Value Chain, you ask?  Why, it’s a phrase I just strung together (read:  made up) to refer to the series of places where we uncover and deliver value to our clients.  If we can improve performance in these areas by better supporting the sales force, we’re likely to win more deals and effectively grow current accounts.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know I’m a fan of what I call the Sales Performance Ecosystem.  Some find the ecosystem daunting.  Aligning all of the parts of the ecosystem is certainly a major sales transformation effort.  No one (worth listening to) is going to make recommendations for your specific organisation without conducting an analysis first, and neither should you, but I will at least attempt to offer a relatively simple way to approach pieces of the ecosystem that have the potential to make a big impact quickly.

To do that, let’s look first at the approach we’ll take in each of the links of the value chain that we want to strengthen and support.

People | Process | Methodology | Technology (PPMT)

In the immortal words of Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters:  “We have the tools, and we have the talent!”

In slightly different words, we often hear the phrase, “people, process, and technology” bantered as a framework for improving organisational performance.  Because there are key differences between process and methodology, and because sales methodology is a big piece of sales performance, let’s expand this phrase to “People, Process, Methodology, and Technology” (PPMT):

People: Do you have the right people in the right roles?

Process: What steps do they follow to accomplish objectives?

Methodology: What do they do in each step to move forward in the process?

Technology: What tools can they use to support the process or methodology?

This is over-simplified for a short blog post, of course, but it is “directionally correct.”  For process and methodology especially, you can drill a lot deeper through the 5 Ws and 1 H (who, what, why, when, where, and how), but hopefully, this is clear as a starting point.

Sales Performance Value Chain

Now, consider these select elements or “links” of the Sales Performance Ecosystem.  I call this subset of the ecosystem the Sales Performance Value Chain because it’s through our people (our talent) and these three activities (aka support opportunities) that we deliver our value to clients.

  • Sales Talent Management Support: How you select, onboard, train, and develop your sales professionals, including both frontline sales reps and their managers/coaches
  • Lead Acquisition/ Management Support: How you generate, nurture, qualify, and pursue leads to create opportunities
  • Account Development Support: How you review, analyse, strategise, plan, and execute with current accounts to grow them and pursue possibilities to create opportunities
  • Opportunity Management Support: How you manage both the above new and growth opportunities through their buying process and your pipeline to acquire new accounts or grow current ones.

PPMT Meets the Value Chain

For each of these four links in the chain, you can use the PPMT framework to identify what’s working, what’s not, what top producers do more effectively, where gaps exists, and what you can do in each area to close them.

If you have the same staff doing the work across all these tasks (perhaps in a smaller organisation where the work may not be segmented by functions like Marketing, Inside Sales, Field Sales, Account Managers, Sales Operations, etc.), you may need to separate out the People/Talent piece of the equation because you’ll only be asking it once in the Talent Management section, versus asking it across the other three links.  For the most part, however, you should be able to consider PPMT in each of the above chains beyond the Sales team to ensure the right people are in the right roles in all functions that support Sales.

As an example, in Lead Acquisition/Management, you can now ask questions about each piece of PPMT:

  • People:  Do we have the right people in place in each of the roles that support lead acquisition and lead management?  How do we know?  What can we learn from studying the top performers?  Can we coach and develop others to do similar things (close a knowledge or skill gap), or are gaps more related to things like culture fit, job/role fit, motivational fit, and occupational interests?  How can we ensure we have the right people in the right places to get the best results?
  • Process:  What steps do they follow to accomplish objectives?  Are these steps effective if followed well?  Do they consider the buyer’s perspective?  Is there flexibility when needed?  What do the top performers do similarly and differently than average performers?  How can the process be fine-tuned to be more effective?
  • Methodology:  What do the players do in each step to move forward in the process?  Add all the 5 Ws and 1 H, and also, compare top to mid producers.  Build training around top-producer practises or known-effective practises, and develop Continue | Start | Stop lists, highlighting differences between what top producers do versus others.
  • Technology:  What tools are performers using to support the process or methodology?  How well are these tools working?  Are they being used as intended and to maximum effectiveness?  What can we learn from top performers?

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

This is just one example.  You can ask similar questions using the PPMT framework as you move through the other links of the value chain (or almost anywhere in the larger Sales Performance Ecosystem).  By doing this each time, you can begin to identify areas for improvement and create plans to close gaps.

Make sense?  I hope so.  Either way, please drop a comment and let me know.  As always, I’d be pleased to answer questions, bounce ideas, or refer you to someone who can help if you’d like to take a deeper dive.  Whether it’s tackling some low-hanging fruit early in 2014 to improve your chance of making the numbers this year or preparing for a large-scale sales transformation effort, there are few things more important than enabling and supporting your sales force to the best of your ability.

And, just in case … if you haven’t officially documented our purposefully designed your sales processes and selected effective methodologies to support them, make 2014 the year you do it.  If you need support, we can help.

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