30/08/2012 Back to articles

Sales force spring cleaning - with new, added science...!

It starts with seeing the dirt...

In the last edition, we suggested that it might well be time to consider spring cleaning the sales force. We pointed out symptoms all of us could recognise and made a case for the value of rejuvenating and developing the sales force.

Find the right treatment...

But in setting out on such a spring clean there could be some challenging decisions to make.  We are relying on a number of indicators - informal, quantitative and judgemental - that don’t always point in the same direction, so the diagnosis of the problem is often not clear cut. And even when there appears to be compelling evidence, it may be misleading.  Take a client of ours, perceived as competent and known for its focus on excellence in its sales force, who was consistently losing business in the final stages of the sales cycle. The initial diagnosis suggested that the problem lay with poor negotiation and closing skills and the answer was to apply training to sharpen their skills. But this analysis was not consistent with other facts so the client decided to get a second opinion, using an objective diagnostic tool, which made it very clear that the real problem was the sales force’s inability to position value early enough in the bid. As a result the buyers had been treating them merely as a tool to enhance their bargaining position with the preferred supplier. Once this was recognised, the team was easily reconfigured and retrained –within four months their win rate had increased by 40%.

...Implement and enjoy the results!

Deploying a little science in spring cleaning the sales force goes a long way to ensuring you understand their real potential and that you are applying the right remedial actions where there are problems. The relatively small investment you make will see a rapid payback, with your sales force beginning to outperform its competitors in a fraction of the time that might otherwise be needed.

Hugh Stafford-Smith
email: hstafford-smith@salesassessment.com