Executives looking to win more business + speed up sales face a sea of choices. Every option’s offered as the right drug for curing the disease of declining sales productivity. Modify the structure of the sales organization with a shift from field sales to inside sales. Modify your sales compensation. Implement CRM. Augment it with inbound marketing, Add Marketing Automation with lead scoring, Use sales Intelligence to detect trigger events. Do sales training on the art of sales. As one sales VP recently noted, “if I’d purchased every solution I’d been offered to improve my sales productivity in the past year, based on promised ROI, I’d be bankrupt.”
So which of these is the silver bullet choice that saavy sales leaders should be making? Which is right path to choose? Who truly knows?
In my view, what’s lacking are diagnostics with which sales people can make right choices in a given circumstance. Some of the best sales productivity diagnostics take a long time to show up, especially when sales cycles are long. What’s missing are diagnostics on the little things which, when done day-to-day, make a big difference.
Consider an example. Today, one of the productivity-improving therapies often recommended in sales operations is Loss Analysis. When a deal’s lost, do a post mortem to determine what happened + what should be done to prevent future deal deaths. In my view, it’s a bit like holding a coroner’s inquest. It accepts that fatalities are unavoidable other than by learning from them after the fact. It’s a strange way to stretch life expectancies.
Surely it makes more sense to perform diagnostics while deals are still alive. Some deals may get sick, but surely with better diagnostics things can be done to save a few of them from dying. Saavy sales coaches know this + do it, but the coaching impact is less than it should be. Coaches simply can’t go deep enough, fast enough, often enough to turn the overall tide of sales productivity. The real-time diagnistics they need are not widely available. The type I’m advocating would let patients (sales teams), with the help of their medical team (led by their Sales Managers), test various therapies, witness their effects, then (based on observed effects) settle on a combination of therapies that really work for them. Such sales performance diagnostics would:
- Reduce uncertainties by disclosing the impacts on buyer journeys of changes made to sales efforts, practices, activities, compensation, structure, skills, etc.
- Shrink decision cycles. Patients (sales teams) would spot + fix their mistakes, fast. They’d spot + replicate best practices, fast.
- Seed the learning, curiosity, + experimentation needed to discover new best practices
- Make improving sales productivity an on-going process, rather than a one-off gamble
When we get the diagnostics right, and right away, we’ll be talking about Sales2.0 in bold. Patients will have drug therapies ideally suited to their specific conditions at a specific point in time. Therapies which patients + their physicians can adjust, as conditions change. Therapies which lower the risks of fatal mistakes. Therapies which give patients a path to improved health, and proof they’re on that right path, as in this sales example.
I say, it’s time. Bring it on.
PS: Sirius Decisions, CSO Insights, Aberdeen, and IDC report sales productivity is declining + of great concern to saavy executives. Research from the Harvard Business Review + McKinsey show firms who measurably improve it will reap a huge competitive addvntage.