January 08, 2009

What Can Sales Effectiveness Initiatives Deliver?

Managers are finding that focusing on Sales Effectiveness has the potential to accelerate sales growth more immediately than most other activities, or strategies.  Furthermore compared to other strategies, such as the launch of a new product, it generally does not require a major investment. 

For most companies a focus on increased Sales Effectiveness has the potential to double the rate of sales growth.  Moreover, as effectiveness generally implies getting more from existing resources, the impact on margins is often greater.

 A modest 3% increase in conversion rates at each stages of the sales cycle - for example the quality of sales leads, the effectiveness of sales presentations, etc. – is likely to double the rate of sales growth in most organisations. 

 Sales effectiveness is less about ‘a magic bullet’ and more about a series of modest sales process, systems and skills improvements.  These changes, in isolation, might be considered minor, yet the cumulative effect on sales is surprising.  

Tom Peters said excellence is measured in millimetres not kilometres.  This is particularly true in respect of sales effectiveness.  The focus is on continuous and modest ongoing improvement, as opposed to revolutionary or earth-shattering change, in areas such as:

·         Pre-qualification of Leads

·         The effectiveness of sales meetings, or presentations

·         A more structured sales approach

·         Selling skills (e.g. building relationships)

·         Selling higher in target organizations

·         More effective proposals

·         Sales systems to manage leads, opportunities, etc.

The combined effect on sales of small changes in these areas is to significantly impact on overall conversion rates.  Yet, adopting such an incremental approach has the advantage of being easier to implement.

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