Companies have spent significant amounts of money, time, effort and human capital on implementing processes to align their organizations on strategy. This includes lean manufacturing, ISO certification, just in time inventory, optimization of delivery systems, and financial operations. For a variety of reasons, this attention has not been consistently applied to the sales force.
Most CEO’s don’t rise through the ranks having come from sales. They are most often experienced in operations, finance, engineering, technology and science. The irony is that these disciplines emphasize data, analysis, strategy and process. Yet close to eighty percent of the sales organizations which we have evaluated lack a clearly-defined, coherent sales process, and worse, there is insufficient inspection and accountability by sales leadership of what little process exists. Despite widescale implementation of CRM systems, pipeline and forecasting, accuracy is a significant problem. Look no further than the discounting needed to get deals closed.
Human capital and its development is a tremendous challenge. We have aging sales forces, fewer large companies investing in the training of new salespeople, and a seismic shift from account management to more proactive consultative sellers. Sales managers tend to be untrained individual producers who have little patience for developing salespeople.
If one of your business strategies is to take market share, you need a sales process which aligns with that strategy, salespeople who are skilled at capturing business from incumbents, and sales leaders capable of coaching up presenters and turning them into proactive hunters. Unfortunately, almost half of all salespeople are either untrainable (they don’t have the incentive to change), highly resistant to coaching or limited by their DNA (often non-supportive beliefs).
Recruiting for talent vs. knowledge is an absolute necessity if sales organizations are to address these challenges. In addition to identifying talent, Human Resources and sales leadership must understand, be able to recognize, and select salespeople who possess the core sales DNA required for success.
The most exciting aspect of this is that companies are beginning to recognize that sales must be a strategically-valued part of their business, and as such, requires investment, attention and strong sales leadership.
If you are curious about how well-developed your sales organization is, complete our short Sales Force Grader.
Do you and or your sales leaders need to have greater impact on your sales force? If so, Kurlan & Associates is holding a Sales Leadership Intensive this May in Boston.