Last week, I attended the CEO Club of Boston Meeting and was treated to hearing speaker, Mary Adams from Trek Consulting. Listening to her, it struck me that the effectiveness of a salesperson or sales organization can be viewed through the lens of a company’s capital and how effectively they develop and leverage it.
Mary sees capital in four specific groups. I’ve applied these here to the sales organization:
- Human Capital - Do your salespeople have the required motivation and passion for success and overcoming adversity?
- Relationship Capital - Are you partnered with the right people and organizations? Are your salespeople testing their account strategy against objective sources?
- Strategy Capital - Is your value proposition aligned with the needs of a prospect? Are your salespeople “selling” or are they uncovering need and urgency?
- Systems Capital - Do your salespeople follow a best practices company-specific sales process and leverage the company resources?
Ask yourself whether selling is getting easier or harder. Are prospects and clients more demanding? Do they have a more clearly-defined picture of what they need and want - whether it’s the right position of not? Are they more careful in the buying process? Are they making decisions more strategically?
We know the sales landscape changed dramatically in the decades prior to 2008. I believe that, since then, the pace of change has accelerated. Salespeople and sales organizations, who don’t adapt to this, will grow more slowly than the competition. The question is whether you will act and avoid the plight of the dinosaur.
Optimizing a sales force requires that each of the capital elements be optimized and aligned. It’s not just people, nor is it just sales leadership. CEO’s must get emotionally invested in building world-class sales organizations. They need to embrace the professionalism and process orientation of their sales force and then proclaim it across the company as emphatically as they do other departments.
Most CEO’s influence EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) by improving productivity, driving down cost, managing inventory, the procurement chain and other financial and operational efforts. EBITDA is the end game for most companies, and yet most don’t manage the sales organization as a critical path driver of it. The capital elements, which I described, influence the financials whether through cost of sales, margin, inventory turns, billing rates, timeline to close or a host of other issues.
My call to action is for you to analyze your sales capital, put a plan together for optimizing it and execute the plan. Contact me at Kurlan and Associates, Inc. for more information.