How Soon Should You Make Changes to Your Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 @ 09:06 AM

The First 90 DaysThis month's newsletter from IDC's Sales Advisory Group lists 5 things which a new Sales VP should do.  Some of them are good, but others not so much.  Among their points were some that have nothing to do with being new, plus one with which I am in complete disagreement.  Consider 4 of their 5 bullet points below:

  1. They said: Tap into your organization's resources to get up the learning curve, fast.
    I say: You should tap into your resources whether you are new or not!  There is more to learn than your own business.  You should be learning about your competition, your customers, new verticals into which you can sell, and your team's capabilities.
  2. They said: Upgrade your sales operations team ASAP and lean on them to develop and drive the strategic agenda to improve sales productivity and effectiveness.  
    I say: If you don't have a large company, then you don't have a sales operations team.  You must go outside for that help.  But wherever you turn, you should follow this point whether you are new or not.  Sales operations includes systems and processes and most companies aren't even aware of the systems and processes which they should have, never mind the companies whose systems and processes are completely ineffective and don't support the sales force.
  3. They said: Leverage your strategy, operations and finance teams to quantify and assess your sales investment levels, resource allocations and future areas for investment to drive productivity improvements.
    I say: Once again, if you aren't in a large company, these teams don't exist and you must go outside for this help, but you don't have to be new to do this.
  4. They said: Assess your team and rapidly make changes.
    I say: You should absolutely assess your team, new or not.  But here is where I strongly disagree with IDC's suggestion.  If you are new, you should not change anything during the first 90 days.  The fastest way to alienate your entire team is to make changes too quickly.  In the first 90 days, you must build relationships, gain their trust, establish your credibility, lower their resistance and work on your strategy and sales plan.  Then, with the intelligence and action items, which come as a result of  the sales force evaluation, you can begin making the recommended changes based on science and data, not knee-jerk reactions or worse, historical numbers from spreadsheets and reports.  The goal is to determine who should be part of the sales force going forward, not who has performed in the past.  Watch this video about why you should evaluate your sales team.
Why You Should Evaluate Your Sales Force

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales management, sales competency, assessment, IDC, new sales manager, new sales vp, Sales Advisory Group

What Really Creates Sales Excellence?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 13, 2008 @ 21:11 PM

If you are like me, you're receiving email invitations to attend webinars at the rate of 10 to 20 per day.  And you're getting the exact same invitations every single day from the exact same companies.  And some of them promise the solution to all of your sales problems - sales excellence solutions.  Take a look at the invitations I received today alone!

  • IDC - Sales Advisory Service (they provide research reports and hold seminars where they report on their research and provide sales enablement advice)
  • Savo Group (their tag line is "never sell alone" - they tap into your sales teams' knowledge and make it available on demand)
  • Xactly (they have online applications that optimize compensation and incentives)
  • Landslide (they have the best sales workstyle management application so that your salespeople follow your process and enter the appropriate sales cycle information to produce the reports you need to see)
  • Avitage (they provide central storage for and an application for taking the visual and audio nuggets and putting just the right message together so that your salespeople deliver the email/web message that you want them to)

I may not have their messaging the way they want it but it's my sense of what they do. But their webinar announcements all promise to improve sales effectiveness.  Can they?  Do they?  What do you think of when you hear that you can increase or improve sales effectiveness?

What they can't do is make your salespeople any more competent, although Savo and Avitage might disagree.  They can't make your salespeople any more motivated although Xactly might disagree.  And they can't make them any more effective, although Landslide might disagree.

All of these applications are systems which optimize and improve efficiencies, standardization, attention to details, access to information, and how to use the information you get. They don't train and develop your salespeople and the only way to make them better is through evaluation, training and development.  Evaluation identifies all of the people, systems and strategy issues that need to be addressed.  Training is the process by which skills are transferred while development is the process by which their strengths are developed and weaknesses overcome. If you train and develop your people and then utilize these services then yes, you'll improve sales excellence.  These application are far more effective when you've already worked with a sales force development expert, developed a sales process and developed your salespeople.  Then these applications can be aligned with true best practices, as opposed to the practices in place prior to development.

I can tell you first hand how good Landslide is - I use it and recommend it to all of my clients.

I can tell you first hand how insightful Lee Levitt, the  IDC Sales Advisory practice Director, is. I have met Lee and read his articles.

I met Jim Burns from Avitage and saw his demo but haven't used the application yet.

I spoke with someone from Savo Group and saw their demo but haven't used the application yet.

And I haven't met or spoken with anyone from Xactly yet.

What really creates sales excellence?  No one thing - ever. A combination of things - always.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, sales process, sales training, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales excellence, sales evaluation, sales compensation, sales system, Xactly, Avitage, Savo, IDC, sales effectiveness, Landslide

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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