The US economy continues to sputter after a declining fourth quarter. With uncertain projections for 2003 businesses are increasingly asking, "How can we achieve greater returns for our shareholders?" Most businesses have already cut the "fat" out of the organization and recognize that further cuts only result in a weakened organization. Many corporate leaders are now recognizing that the key to profitability and exceeding stockholder expectations in 2003 is to grow the top line revenue of the firm. It is no surprise then that there is a renewed emphasis on sales force development.
A Defined Methodology for Sales Force Development
There are key questions that management should ask as they seek to determine how best to improve the effectiveness of their selling effort:
- Does your company’s value proposition demonstrate a real understanding of your customer’s customer?
- Is there a common understanding of your value proposition across your sales force and are your associates consistently articulating the value proposition?
- Is the sales process defined and established with best practices and measures?
- Is the sales managers role and responsibility clear, especially in regard to coaching/counseling the sales personnel through the sales process?
- Is there a strategy for retaining top sales talent?
To help an organization respond to these important questions, Dawson Consulting Group has developed a four step method for organization development. First, fully ASSESS the organizational practices versus best practices. Next, DESIGN a development program to close the gaps in capabilities. Many organizations do an adequate job of these first two steps but few devote the time and effort to support the investment with an IMPLEMENTATION plan. Such a plan needs to clearly define behavioral and skill change requirements for the "improved organization". The final step is to ensure that key MEASURES are identified and applied to track the "new" behaviors and skills, and that MANAGERS "buy in" to their role as coach and counselor.
Getting Started – Identifying the Gaps
In order to fully assess the sales force’s selling process versus best practices, Dawson Consulting Group utilizes various assessments designed to assess an organization’s selling process/ practices as well as Sales Management’s role in coaching and leading those processes. In a recent project for a consulting organization, Dawson Consulting Group utilized this assessment to evaluate the sales processes; the assessment revealed that the organization was utilizing only 60.75% of sales best practices. The assessment identified opportunities for improvement in call documentation (57.4% of Best Practices) and solution development (56.25% of Best Practices) phases of the consultative selling process.
A detailed look at the specific gaps versus best practices in this consulting group revealed the following opportunities for improvement in their consultative sales process:
- Financial Return on Investment methodology,
- Forecasting & managing the opportunity pipeline,
- Sales Call/Strategy documentation & process,
- Sales & Consulting skills growth plans.
In each of these four areas consultants utilized less than 50% of "Best Practices" for a consultative sales organization. Based on the results of this assessment, a 2-day training experience was custom designed, combining elements of four sales training modules targeted to fill the gaps. The results were almost immediately measurable!
Mazimize Your Sales Force Development ROI
With limited dollars to invest in training and development, companies can increase their return by investing in a focused approach that yields measurable results. How can you identify the skills and processes that need the greatest improvement? Test drive Dawson Consulting Group’s assessments to help you define your sales team’s performance gaps and target your Sales Force Training and Development dollars for maximum ROI. With the Assess => Design => Implement => Measure => Manage development methodology, your organization can rise to the top of your industry segment in a tough economy and be positioned for growth in the economic turn around. Out smart your competition in 2003 with a targeted development strategy that is guaranteed to increase performance.
By Ron Jobe
President & COO
Dawson Consulting Group