13/03/2012 Back to articles

Time to spring clean the salesforce?

Cull or cure?

Things are not getting any easier in the market and most companies are having to fight doubly hard to win business. As we move into a new financial year this is traditionally also the time to revisit strategy and determine what needs to be adjusted to achieve targets. Inevitably the spotlight will fall on the sales operation – is it up to delivering the revenue required?In a purely numeric sense the answer is simple – does the sales forecast meet or, better, exceed the plan? However, experience may suggest some caution in taking these projections at face value. Even if monthly quotas have been made in the past, did this happen as planned or as a serious of happy accidents? Within the sales team, who is really delivering the numbers? Is it time to clone the good guys and cull the rest?

Spring is all about rejuvenation

As with any spring clean the right approach may be a mixture of rejuvenation and replacement – but ideally in that order. It can be too simplistic to believe that competitors win business because the individuals in their sales teams are better. Firing and hiring is an expensive exercise with no guarantee that incoming people will have better innate ability to sell and thrive outside their current environment. Equally, changing an account manager as a minimum means rebuilding relationships, maybe even more if the client was happy with the current individual.

A systems-based approach

An alternative might be to invest in a training programme. It is always possible to impart new skills and techniques but if this is just a passing event, disconnected from any other parallel change, then there is a significant possibility that money will be wasted on another isolated initiative. The same could also be true of any investment in a new CRM system.The right way forward is to step back and consider the commercial operation as a whole – management, process, skills, tools and individuals.

Once this is understood then roles and responsibilities for existing and new people will become clearer, shortfalls identified, training put in context and requirements clearly specified for additional support tools. It may seem slower but it is a better use of time and money to get the blueprint right before starting construction.

Rhys Torrington