Driving Sales Excellence: The 5-Steps Involved

Achieving sales excellence is every entrepreneur’s desire and, fortunately, is very doable. To make a significant difference to your bottom-line performance and top-line growth however, you need to use your investment – on average 5%-15% of revenue is spent on sales – wisely. Below are the 5 critical components that will help you accomplish this.

Identify the right opportunities

Having eyes like a hawk will allow you to spot opportunities. The most important part is to be able to identify the right ones that will help you achieve your goals. Planning your strategy around them (and aligning your company’s go-to-market accordingly) is the key step.

Find the right partners & people

Once you have identified the right opportunities, it’s crucial to match them with the right people. To get there, you will have to consider a) the architecture of your go-to-market; b) the sales planning process; and c) how certain you are about these people’s skills (ie. do they have what it takes to win the deals?). For the last issue, a skills assessment could provide assurance.

Ensure you deliver the best pitch

To make that happen, you can segment your customer base so you know the varying needs of each segment, or make sure your sales force has the proper listening skills required to identify an opportunity and match each customer to your value proposition.

You may also provide them with segmenting tools, next-product-to-buy models or predictive analytics that will allow them to understand what kind of pitch will bring the desired results – something particularly critical when dealing with organisations with complex portfolios. Having marketing helping sales is an important partnership. 

Be consistent

A centrally-driven change is required to drive the various elements of sales excellence consistently throughout dispersed geographies. Investing in sales operations (including strategy, planning, sales technology, compensation design, and customer insight) will help you get there. 

Create the Right Operating Model

Once you’ve done all that, it’s critical to create an operating model that will give you the means to make the necessary decisions quickly. For example, you will need to create a commercial operating model regarding the degree of centralisation. According to research, the best model is the one where the guidelines and strategy are developed by a central organisation. It is also a model where that central organisation not only manages the planning process but also leads performance management.

Another important decision is in regard to the responsibilities and roles across segments, products, and geographies, and ensuring that making decisions about what is planned will be an easy and fast process.

Of course, we shouldn’t forget predictions about sales, which is also among the big decisions you will be called to make. Resist the temptation to have many forecasting groups to avoid confusion. It’s best to have roles clearly defined and know exactly who is going to deal with forecasting sales.

This is based on an article that originally appeared on McKinsey & Company.

James Leighton Davis is a Customer Acquisition Consultant, Interim Digital Director and NED, primarily for PE-and-VC-backed companies across B2C, B2B and D2C markets in both the UK and Australia. Further information is available at leightondavis.com

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