Building a Winning Sales Force
Powerful Strategies for Driving High Performance
Andris A. Zoltners | Prabhakant Sinha | Sally E. Lorimer
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
‘Building a Winning Sales Force' has been written by Andris Zoltners, Prabhakant Sinha and Sally E Lorimer, members of ZS Associates, a global consulting firm specializing in sales and marketing consulting, capability building and outsourcing. Mr. Zoltners and Mr. Sinha also served as professors in Kellogg School of Management before establishing ZS.
“The sales force is a powerful driver of revenues, and because salespeople are entrusted with a company's most important asset—its relationship with its customers—they have a significant and often determining impact on an organization's success.”
The sales process is one of the most dynamic of corporate processes. With the market conditions constantly changing along with the customers' wants, needs and expectations, it is essential for sales leaders to be able to reveal and maximize the potential of their sales force. The authors explain how to get maximum benefit from the 12 sales effectiveness drivers. They present us with a plethora of flow charts, scatter plots and case studies to enable the readers to understand and learn about how to build a winning sales force.
The book is structured into 3 parts:
1. A Blueprint for Sales Force Excellence:
The authors provide us with a framework to organize the various different components of the Sales system and therefore how to manage the sales effectiveness drivers in a better way hence enabling the sales leaders to build a high-quality sales force to meet the customer needs and achieve the company goals
2. Improving the Top Sales Effectiveness Drivers
In this part, the authors present us with various case studies, frameworks, showing how to get maximum impact from the top 12 sales effectiveness drivers
3. Addressing Common and Challenging Sales Management Issues:
This where the authors explain the frequent and consistent issues addressed by the sales leaders like preventing salesforce complacency, changing the sales strategy, allocating sales resources, to name a few.
Businesses make huge investments in their sales forces. For example, U.S. companies spend $800 billion annually on sales, 300% more than on advertising. It is imperative for business organizations to get a strong return on this sizable investment. To determine the right initiatives firms, need to examine five sales system elements: “company results, customer results, activities, salespeople” and, the most important element of all, their “sales effectiveness drivers.”
The sales process is the most dynamic of corporate processes. Market conditions and customers' wants, needs, expectations are constantly changing. New products relentlessly emerge. Some competitors get stronger, others weaker. Government regulatory actions can inhibit or unleash commerce. The merger of companies with another firm could dramatically alter the business landscape.
In this situation, for any business to succeed, it is imperative for the business to have a dynamic sales force as well. It is absolutely essential to make the sales force a change agent that identifies new opportunities and helps the company capitalize on them before other competitors.
“Sales force turnover is expensive, as it affects both costs and revenues.”
For diagnosis of problems in the sales force's effectiveness and to create workable solutions. It is important to include the development of a “sales force performance scorecard” for evaluating the 12 drivers of sales effectiveness. The remedial actions should also be aligned to the “Three Cs.”
The “12 Top Drivers of Sales Effectiveness”
1. “Sales strategies”
2. “Sizing your sales force”
3. “Structuring your sales force”
4. “Designing sales territories”
5. “Sales force recruiting”
6. “Developing more effective training programs”
7. “How to create a winning sales force culture”
8. “The right sales manager”
9. “Using information technology”
10. “How sales force incentives can drive results”
11. “Setting fair and realistic goals”
12. “Staying on track”
A reliable indicator of sales effectiveness does not necessarily mean hitting the sales numbers is not always a reliable indicator of sales effectiveness. The 12 sales force effectiveness drivers are the best indicators and which can be improved to further improve the sales. The sales drivers above fall into five main categories:
o These drivers concern the structure of the sales organization and the specific roles the salespeople fill.
o These drivers involve “hiring, training and coaching” salespeople.
o These drivers provide vital customer and marketplace information, often delivered through an IT system.
o These drivers include incentive programs, sales leadership styles and other factors that motivate salespeople.
o These drivers encompass business processes and control systems that enable salespeople to stay on track.
Assessments of how sales forces spend their time often reveal that too much time is being spent on noncritical selling activities. Solutions to any sales effort allocation challenge can be discovered through a diagnostic process guided by the following framework.
Many companies use sales force specialization to ensure that important customers or prospects receive sufficient sales effort.
Sales force turnover creates several direct costs:
Internal recruiting costs
External recruiting costs
Training and ramp-up costs
While companies usually recognize the direct costs associated with sales force turnover, they frequently overlook the loss of opportunity for revenue. Turnover often creates a possible loss of sales over what can be an extended period.
To conclude the book has effectively highlighted and explained many important aspects of the sales that we as future managers and students need to understand. The easy tone of the book and up to date frameworks provide us keen insights that would otherwise be difficult to grab in a theory intensive book. There are certain aspects that need improvement however. The description of chapter 11 was too technical for someone not well versed in IT domain. The flow between the previous chapter and this one was not in line.
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