Management Consulting/SALES AND DISTRIBUTION MANAGEMENT
1. Do you think the role of sales manager in sales planning, organizing, forecasting and budgeting will become less or more important with the ever growing power of computers and software sophistication? Explain.
2. Why sales training and sales force development should be thought of as a long¬term, ongoing process? Justify
The role of sales manager in sales planning, organizing, forecasting and budgeting is one of the most important role in the organization.
It has been and will always remain the most important.
The ever growing power of computers and software sophistication will help to improve the effectiveness of the role of sales manager.
Principal Sales Executive,
Position reports to.,
Chief Executive [ CEO]
Develop, direct and control the sales business strategies and activities for the organization's sales activity to achieve revenue, sales and profit targets.
Direct all sales activities for the achievement of short and long term business objectives, increased profit, and market control.
Establish and co ordinate the sales objectives, policies and programme within the context of the overall corporate plan and, where appropriate, recommend standards and set targets and quotas.
Prepare or arrange for preparation of the budgets, reports and forecasts and ensure they are presented in a timely manner to the Chief Executive.
Appraise the activities of the sales staff according to overall sales strategies. Monitor and evaluate the performance, and the efficiency of staff and procedures.
Co ordinate subordinate staff to optirnise the use of human and material resources to achieve goals. Consult with subordinate staff and review recommendations and reports.
Direct the preparation of operational matters including volume and profit objectives, promotion distribution, pricing and selling.
Direct sales activities by setting product mix, geographical sales areas and customer service standards.
Control and monitor sales methods, key customer strategies and arrangements by recommending prices, discount policies, credit arrangements, and conditions of sale.
Monitor customer service, invoicing, expenditure, payments and administration costs.
Direct the development of initiatives such as new products, incentive bonus schemes and the dropping of unprofitable products.
Maintain necessary contact and negotiations with major suppliers, key customers, industry associations and government representatives to achieve the objectives of the division.
May assist in the direction of merchandising methods and distribution policy.
Select, or approve the selection and training of staff. Establish lines of control and delegate responsibilities to subordinate staff.
Ensure all the activities of sales comply with relevant Acts, legal demands and ethical standards.
IT IS THE MANAGEMENT PROCESS OF
ESTABLISHING , DIRECTING , AND COORDINATING THE SALES
DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES FOR THE COMPANY PRODUCTS.
STRATEGICALLY PLAN FOR, DEVELOP
AND PROFITABLY PENETRATE THE MARKET TO WHICH
THE PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND CAPABILITIES OF THE
COMPANY CAN BE DIRECTED.
ENSURING THE SALES TO CUSTOMERS ,
DISTRIBUTORs and RESELLERs achieve the budgeted target.
THE SCOPE OF THE SALES MANAGEMENT VARIES WITH THE
-NATURE OF THE INDUSTRY
-NATURE OF SELLING
The scope of the sales management, in broad terms includes,
Establish Salesforce objectives
Organizing the Salesforce
Recruiting and Selecting Salespeople
Training Sales Personnel
Compensating Sales People
Motivating Sales People
Developing sales plans
Developing sales development programs
Management of Salesforce
Sales force is directly responsible for generating sales revenue.
Eight general management areas:
Establish Salesforce objectives
Similar to other promotional objectives
Demand oriented or image oriented.
Major objective is persuasion, converting consumer interest into sales.
Sales objectives; expected to accomplish within a certain period of time.
Give direction and purpose and act as a standard for evaluation.
Set for total salesforce and each individual salesperson.
Can be $s, units sold, market share to achieve, for individual salespersons, also include ave. order size, ave. # of sales/time period, and ratio orders/calls.
Organizing the Salesforce
• In-house vs. independent agents (manufacturer's sales agents).
• Organize by:
• Geography (simplest, but not suitable if product(s) are complex or customers require specialized knowledge)
• Customer: Different buyers have different needs
• Product: Specific knowledge re: products is needed
• Size. Marginal analysis, or determine how many sales calls/year are needed for an organization to effectively serve its customers and divide this total by the average # of sales calls that a person makes annually. Also use subjective judgement.
MBNA estimates how many calls to expect, one year in advance, and then determines the size of the salesforce at any given time.
Recruiting and Selecting Salespeople
Need to establish a set of required qualifications before beginning to recruit. Prepare a job description that lists specific tasks the salesperson should perform and analyze traits of the successful salespeople within the organization.
May use assessment centers--intense training environment that places candidates in realistic problem settings in which they give priorities to their activities, make and act on decisions.
Recruitment should be a continual activity aimed at reaching the best applicants.
Applicants that most match the demographics of the target market. Changing demographics, may be wise to hire hispanic sales people if your territory is in Florida!!
Training Sales Personnel
Use formal programs, or Informal on-the-job training. Can be complex or simple.
Training should focus on:
• the company
• selling techniques.
Aimed at new hires and experienced personnel.
Can be held in the field, educational institutions or company facilities.
Oldsmobile spent $25 million last year to teach its dealers how to better treat its customers.
Compensating Sales People
To attract, motivate and retain sales people, that facilitate and encourage good treatment of the customers. Need to understand personalities of sales people. Strive for proper balance of freedom, income and incentives.
Need to determine the best level of compensation required, and the best method of calculating it.
• Straight salary
• straight commission (selling insurance)--single percentage of sales or sliding rate
• Combination plan
Motivating Sales People
Need a systematic approach, must also satisfy non-financial needs:
• Job security
• Working Conditions
• Opportunities to succeed
Sales contests increase sales.
Symbolic awards--plaques, rings etc.
Can also use negative motivational methods for under performers.
Due to burn out--even the best need motivating!!
Ongoing process...keep reps. hungry
Need a motivational program.
Spend time with reps, personal attention!!
Take interest in them and the sales goals
Compensation packet that rewards quality salesmanship and extra effort
Recognition of extra effort of sales force
Make sure SR feel important
Keep SR informed of company activities
Make certain reps. believe in the company
Goals must be realistic and achievable and changeable
Determine what they want and give it to them
Controlling and Evaluating Salesforce performance
Rely on information from call reports, customer feedback and invoices. Performance is determined by objectives. May compare with predetermined performance standards or with other sales people working under similar conditions.
The core theme of a sales manager's role
is to drive the team to sell. Though they may be the best sales person on the team, if they spend 100% of their time helping close business then sales results will plateau when their selling capacity is reached, and you will find that other team members have not developed. This "halter" is a problem that many companies face as they try to migrate to the next level of growth. As usual the best approach to solving a problem is to anticipate it, and solve it before it emerges. So this article will focus on finding a sales manager who can grow beyond your needs today.
Driving the team to sell is a three legged stool. Being effective at all three is important and requires a different set of competencies. You may not get all the competencies you're hoping for, but you must have confidence that given support, the candidate you select has the will to learn the skills. The components are:
1. Selling to large Accounts - When larger prospects are identified it is crucial that the sales manager become actively involved in selling process. Whether or not they take the lead role depends upon the skill and will of the sales representative. Regardless, the sales manager must feel accountable for ensuring that this enterprise opportunity successfully navigates through their buying process. The manager must, at all costs, ensure that there is a complete understanding and consideration of customer requirements before making decisions and taking action.
- Identifying the Needs of Prospects - The sales representative must gather timely, direct information about customer requirements. If the sales person identifies the opportunity early enough in their buying process they can influence and shape those requirements. If they enter the sales cycle later in the prospect's buying process they will be forced to conform to whatever requirements are already defined.
- Entrepreneurial Drive - Tenacity is the most important ingredient in any complex sale. If the sales rep's will begins to fade over time, the manager must insert themselves into the process. To be of high value to the sales representatives your manger should demonstrate that they compete against a self defined standard of excellence. They tirelessly purse a goal until it is successfully attained.
- Meeting & Exceeding Customer Expectations - Retaining clients is equally important as acquiring clients. The first step in client retention is to make realistic short & long term commitments, maintain contact and then to exceed expectations by ensuring delivery of promised service. Your sales manager must understand that brand equity is built one transaction at a time.
2. Managing the Team - No matter the tenure of your sales representatives, their skill and will to do sales tasks will change over time. Your manager must create an atmosphere in which sales people are completely comfortable asking for help. At the same time they must be able to rapidly determine developmental gaps that are becoming unrecognized sales obstacles.
- Coaching & Developing Others - It is unfortunately true that 45% of managers hire sales reps that are not likely to succeed. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that 56% of managers do not conduct routine win/loss reviews and 36% of managers do not effectively identify which sales reps need coaching.* If you are not equipped to help the manager succeed then get them the help they need.
- Creating & Maintaining Effective Work Teams - The manager must create an atmosphere where individuals can work together as a team in pursuit of a common mission. The behaviors you're looking for are; encouraging multiple points of views, harnessing the necessary resources to help team members succeed, establishing a positive climate (see article on "Why Leaders Get Followers") and nurturing a commitment to the mission.
- Directing the Team - Your manager must ensure that the team completes tasks and delivers targets. There are times when coaching & good relationships are not enough. The manager must be more direct and take action if necessary, without inflicting damage to the team environment. Behaviors to look for are; aligning people behind a strategy even when decisions are unpopular, using authority productively to achieve results and setting expectations clearly while communicating the boundaries that exist. In short, the manager must be adept at managing performance.
3. Managing the Territory - whether the assigned territory is national or market specific, you will depend upon the sales manager to optimize results. In order to effectively manage the situation the manager must be motivated to reduce uncertainty and stay focused on those intiatives that will yield the greatest return.
- Concern for Order - Reducing uncertainty requires an insistence on timely, accurate information. You would see this drive expressed in such ways as; monitoring & checking information (CRM), insisting on clarity of commitments (conducting win/loss reviews), setting up and maintaining systems of information.
- Analytical Thinking - This may be an optional skill for your consideration. If the sales manager will be your "Top Sales Officer" (CSO) then I would strongly recommend you look for this competency. If the sales manager will report to an RVP, who reports to your CSO then this is a nice-to-have skill. I freely admit that it is difficult to find analytical thinking skills in a pool of sales management candidates. You are more likely to see good lateral thinking skills. But in this rapidly changing economy, where buyer preferences are changing at incredible velocities then this analytical thinking skill is very important!
SALES BALANCED SCORECARD
* customer visits
• customer complaints
• customer satisfaction analysis
• sales by products
• check on unsuccessful visit reports
• monitoring repeated lost sales by individual salesmen
• sales commission analysis
• monitoring of enquiries and orders
• sales per 100 customers
• "strike rate" - turning enquiries into orders
• analysis of sales by product line
• by geographical area
• by individual customer
• by salesmen
• matching sales orders against sales shipments
• backlog of orders analysis
• total sales of individual sales reps.
• sales performance of individual against team sales.
• share of the market share against competitors
• share of new projects in the industry
• new product / service launch analysis
• time to turn round repairs
• delays in delivering to customers (customer goodwill)
• value of warranty repairs to sales over the period [ technical products]
Step 1: Setting Performance Standards
Performance standards may be set by staff or managers, by managers and staff, or by managers with input from employees whose performance is being measured. The last method is the best because employees believe that line and staff do not have enough information about the conditions of various jobs to set realistic standards.
Managers should see that objectives and standards are measurable and that individuals are held accountable for their accomplishment. The level of difficulty should be challenging but within the capabilities of the employee. Standards set too low are usually accomplished but not exceeded, while standards set too high usually do not motivate the employee to expend much effort to reach the goal.
It is important that standards be complete; however, it is difficult to develop a single standard or goal that will indicate the effective overall performance. For example, consider the automobile dealer who decided to measure sales peoples performance on the basis of the number of automobiles sold. Sales increased impressively, but it was later learned that many sales had been made to poor credit risks, and too high prices had been allowed on trade-ins.
Too many managers are looking for that one magic number that will tell them how well the company is doing or how their employees are performing. Standards for the automobile salespeople might have included number of sales, losses from poor credit risks, and profit on resale's. Standards should also be expressed in terms that relate to the job and are meaningful to the employees.
For example, the foremen in one plant were assigned standards based on break-even analysis, although none of them had any knowledge of this analytical technique. From a behavioral standpoint, it is extremely important that the employee be able to significantly influence or affect the standard assigned.
Finally managers should see that the number of standards assigned, like planning objectives, are limited and placed in priority order for the employee. If there are too many controls assigned, the employee will not be able to give enough attention to any of them and will become frustrated and confused.
Step 2: Measure and compare actual with planned results
As with setting standards, the objectivity of the measurement and the person who measures and compares the performance are important. Measuring and comparing can be accomplished by the person performing the task, by the boss, or by a staff person; even an automated system can measure and compare. From a behavioral standpoint, the last method is the least popular, followed by measurement by a staff person only.
An employee believes an automated system, a staff person, or even the boss does not know enough about the conditions of the job to make a fair comparison between actual and planned results.
Also, the employee often distrusts the staff person and sometimes even the boss. At the same time, the employee is usually not trusted enough by the company to perform the measurement and comparison alone. The best solution is to have the measurement done by the person most trusted by the employee and to allow the employee some input.
When employees have relatively low trust in a control system, they sometimes behave in various ways that are harmful to the organization. They may do what is required by the system.
For example, when bonuses for salespeople in a department store were based on sales volume, many employees soon lost interest in customers who did not immediately purchase an item, and they spent little time helping customers, making merchandise attractive, or performing stock work.
Quite often employees will report data in such a way that performance will look good for a particular time period. Some control systems will also cause employees to report invalid or misleading data about what can be done.
For example, it is not uncommon at budget time for managers to ask for larger amounts than needed if they believe their requests will be reduced. In many organizations budget setting sessions are largely negotiating games with little effort given to establishing realistic standards. The advent of computer-based management information systems has also caused invalid data to be provided. These systems sometimes require historical cost, production, and other data that are simply not available and cannot be provided. When pressed, however, the data are estimated, often inaccurately.
Finally, control systems that employees view as clearly threatening will cause strong resistance, perhaps the best example of this is automatic data systems. These systems create new experts with much power, are often not well understood, and, therefore are feared by many employees.
Step 3. Evaluate results, give feedback and coach
The third step is most effective when steering controls are selected. With these controls, forecasters of the results can also be used for early warning that specific actions may be required. For example, high morale is a popular goal but one that is difficult to measure. Forecasters such as number of accidents, absenteeism, and employee turnover may be evaluated together and serve as a surrogate measure for increasing or declining morale.
However, careful evaluation must be used. If the accident rate increases rapidly in the production area, it would suggest declining morale when a significant increase is caused by employee carelessness. However, if the cause is related to equipment that suddenly wears out, then there probably is not a relationship between accident rate and low morale.
It is essential that managers carefully evaluate deviations before taking action. It is also important that they remember that deviations can be positive as well as negative and that they reward employees for positive deviations. Unfortunately, this step is often omitted and only the negative aspects of deviation receive attention.
Who should receive feedback from this evaluation and how often should it be offered?
* The person who is accountable for accomplishing the standard should receive the information first.
* The employee's boss, or whoever is in a position to reward the employee should receive the information at about the same time or a little later.
* Then peers, staff people, subordinates. and other line people can receive the information. At this time, the boss ought to have some suggestions about how to get back on course if the employee needs help.
The boss's most important job is coaching subordinates. and a good planning control system provides an excellent framework for such coaching.
Feedback must be reliable, relatively frequent, and prompt. The feedback has to be reliable for the employees to be able to change the behavior or plan in order to get on course. Frequency of information has to do with the interval for which data are received.
If, for instance, costs would not normally get out of control in a short period, then monthly reports might be adequate. On the other hand, a delay of six months might allow the situation to get so far out of control that it would be too late to take corrective action.
Sometimes prompt feedback can create problems. Today's computer-based control systems can provide feedback on a real time basis, but such speed can be harmful from a behavioral standpoint. This kind of speed causes undue pressure because there is no time for the manager to use discretion and make changes.
A company director recently described his company's "outstanding" planning-control system. He proudly explained a feedback system that provided information on a continuous basis to every employee concerning his or her progress toward a numbers goal. 'When numbers weren't being made, more pressure was applied.'
Employees were confused because there was no plan to change, and consequently, standards and objectives were not changed. The company had a standards-control system based on numbers: but objectives, plans, evaluation, and coaching did not exist. It is this sort of system that causes low morale and unethical and illegal behavior - all in the name of control.
Step 4. Take corrective action
Making changes as the activity is in progress is a form of corrective action. The real correction occurs when warnings raised by the forecasters or predictors are confirmed.
The corrective action can be changing objectives, standards, plans, and the like, but it can also be penalizing employees when the objectives, standards, and plans are determined to be appropriate and employees have not met them.
However, there usually are several alternative corrective actions that can be taken and often more than one will prove effective. The planning control system is not effective until corrective action is taken and this action begins a new planning-control cycle.
EFFECTIVE sales planning,
There are four basic parts of a sales plan:
1. New business acquisition strategies
2. New business acquisition tactics
3. Existing business growth strategies
4. Existing business growth tactics
Before you start, you need to get a handle on some definitions:
• Sales quota: This critical element of your plan sets the tempo of your efforts throughout the year and provides quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily sub-goals for you to achieve.
• Sales territory: Refers to the geographic area, list of named accounts or specific market niche you have been assigned to in which you are to sell your products, services and solutions.
• Strategies: The plan necessary to accomplish your goal.
• Tactics: The steps necessary to carry out the plan.
New Business Acquisition Strategies and Tactics
Include the following four strategies in your sales plan. Remember, these strategies are all designed to capture new customers and new market share. Important note: The strategies are numbered and the tactics are italicized.
1. Exceed my quota.
• Send no less than 50 letters of introduction to new prospects each week.
• Make no less than 50 cold calls of introduction to new prospects each week.
• Make no less than 20 face-to-face contacts with new prospects each week.
• Create no less than 10 proposals each week.
• Make no less than five presentations each week.
Important note: Your numbers will, of course, vary. What's important here is that you calculate exactly how many contacts you'll need to make in order to achieve your sales quota. Click herefor four easy steps that will help you calculate your "prospecting ratio."
2. Increase awareness in the marketplace of my products, services and solutions.
• Join and participate in no less than three professional associations and organizations that my best prospects and customers belong to.
• Attend any and all trade shows and conventions that my best prospects and customers attend.
• Purchase the mailing list of these associations and organizations and send either a postcard or a letter of introduction.
• On a regular basis, contribute articles and white papers that address the interests and concerns of this population.
3. Increase awareness in the community of my products, services and solutions.
• Attend all Chamber of Commerce networking events.
• Volunteer to speak at no less than 12 various organizations in my territory that have an interest in my product, service and solutions.
• Volunteer my time at three nonprofit organizations.
• Join and participate in no less than three networking groups, such as Le Tip or Business Networking International.
4. Obtain referrals from all my new customers.
• Within 30 days of delivering my product, service or solution, I will ask each of my new customers for at least three names and phone numbers of someone they personally know who may have a use for my products, services and solutions.
Existing Customer Business Strategies and Tactics
Include the following two strategies in your sales plan. Remember, these strategies are designed to capture high-margin, add-on business from your existing customers. Important note: Here again, the strategies are numbered and the tactics are italicized.
1. Create a touch-point program.
• Contact each of my existing customers no less than once per month with a new idea they cannot get from anyone else.
• Create a noteworthy monthly newsletter.
• Create a user-group within my existing customer base.
• Create some sort of Web-based seminar series for my existing customers.
• Take at least three existing customers to lunch each month and invite a new prospect to join us.
2. Prospect within my existing customer base.
• Knock on no less than three new doors, departments and divisions within each of my existing customers' businesses.
• Ask each of my existing customer contacts to introduce me to one other person within their organization.
• Personally meet the top executive at each of my existing customers' businesses.
The Time Is Now
The final part of your sales plan must detail the timeline for implementation of each of the tactics in your sales plan. It's best to show a week-to-week schedule.
Once you've created your sales plan, don't file it away! Keep it handy and revisit it and revise it on a regular basis. Stay on track with your plan, and you'll stay on quota.
EFFECTIVE SALES organizing,
Growing your sales and building your business can be difficult to juggle. That is why it's crucial that you focus your efforts in three key areas: your sales team, CRM system, and management team. With those in mind, you can improve your sales planning process and streamline your growth.
Based on those key areas, here are five tips I’ve found effective for improving and growing sales:
1. Sales reps need to all use one application.
Ever seen a football team split their offense and defense up to practice on different sides of town? Probably not. Even when everyone’s job is a bit different, a team needs cohesiveness and streamlined efficiency that only comes from working in the same area. A CRM system with a robust business data solution provides that single place for your sales teams to collaborate, sell, and acquire new customers, building a solid platform for your growing business.
2. Sales reps need a powerful prospecting tool.
There is a reason we call it “prospecting” and just like the miners back in the days of the wild wild west, we too need our pick and axe. You want to have a great tool, which your whole team can use to provide insights to effectively communicate with prospects, and also helps find new customers that are waiting to be discovered. In my experience, I’ve found that prospecting tools that are designed with salespeople in mind are the most beneficial. Even more beneficial are tools built within Salesforce. Our salespeople live in Salesforce day-to-day, and providing easy access to prospecting means they are spending more time selling. A tool like Data.com is perfect for this.
3. Choose what you’re measuring and monitor those metrics
As you are building up your sales organization, it’s imperative to monitor key activities in order to identify what is working and what is not working. Reports and dashboards help to highlight what you can improve on as well as how to scale your business—all at a glance. This empowers you with better insight to align your sales team more effectively as you move forward.
I do recommend keeping it simple and picking only key metrics. If you’re just getting started with Salesforce, where you can measure anything and everything, it is important to only measure a few things. For example, our key metrics include the number of inbound leads by marketing channel, client conversations, new opportunities, opportunities scheduled to close, and wins.
4. Tap into sales reps’ competitive nature.
Want to know if someone is competitive? Ask them, “What creates a stronger emotion from you… winning, or losing?” Most competitive people hate to lose a lot more than they love to win, and salespeople are hyper competitive beasts. Competition, contests, and gamification are a great way to tap into that competitive nature, and get people rallied and focused on the right things. And if you’re doing point #3 above correctly (measuring), there are plenty of opportunities to layer on some competition around one of those metrics – e.g., make more calls, progressing opportunities faster, and closing more deals. If you can measure it, you can motivate it.
5. Always be recruiting.
If you have ever looked at how often your clients’ profiles change: titles, positions, or companies, you will understand how dynamic our corporate world is. While you might be pleased with the team you have in place, you should ALWAYS have some reps in the queue. You never know when one or more of your current team decides it’s time for a change. It’s tough to have that seat stay empty while scrambling to fill it from scratch. The more potential employees you have on deck, the quicker you will fill the spot with someone you like and trust.
The keys to building a winning sales organization are the same tenants that will sustain a successful sales team and allow continued growth, year after year. Adopting a CRM solution with a single application, using prospecting tools designed for sales people, being deliberate and concise about what you use Salesforce to measure, tapping into your team’s competitive nature and always being prepared from a personnel standpoint, are five effective ways to positively impact your sales force.
EFFECTIVE SALES forecasting
In order to produce a good forecast, sales leaders need to pay attention to the following principles:
• Good forecasting requires a good sales strategy. When a map is wrong, it fails to accurately depict the reality of the landscape, and the same is true when a forecast is incorrect. In short, a forecast does not a strategy make. Good sales strategies take into account the outcomes that need to occur in order to move closer to closing business. A good strategy may include a SWOT analysis, or a clear understanding of the customer criteria for decision and how you rank against the criteria, but most importantly, it will direct your tactics and help you determine the logical series of next steps. And if an account is worth occupying space in your sales funnel it deserves the strategic consideration and attention required to move deftly through your pipeline.
• Good forecasting requires an understanding of your buyer’s behavior. “If you want to learn how sellers ought to sell, learn how buyers buy,” frequently admonished one of my mentors. And if you want to have an accurate forecast, the same holds true. Too many forecasts are simply lists or histories of what the seller has done without taking into consideration what the buyer is doing. The sales process, however, only moves forward when the buyer takes action, so it is incumbent on the sales organization to get very clear on how your buyer is making the decision. What is the process they will use? What stages of the decision cycle are ahead? And what should you be doing differently at each stage.
• Good forecasting requires a milestone driven pipeline process. Once you are clear about how the client is buying you can apply your pipeline process. Ever looked at a forecast and said, “This account is not in the late stages, it is an early stage opportunity?” The key to being effective here is to make sure your pipeline process addresses the key milestones in your selling environment. Are needs analyses, field studies, or demo’s important milestones that client’s commit to in the sales process? Pre-proposal review meetings? If so include them in the appropriate stages of your pipeline process and manage to the events that lead to the completion of these milestones. Whatever milestones they are, or whatever your unique vernacular calls them, make sure they are embedded in your pipeline process so that they serve as guideposts for where you really are in the pipeline.
• Good forecasting requires continual improvement. A forecast is a snapshot not a movie. At any given time you need to remember that, done well, forecasting represents a moment in time, and since the landscape is constantly changing, forecasts need to be continually refined. You may experience changes in your business or in the marketplace that indicate that an additional milestone be added to your process. Or perhaps you find that over time, the values you placed on each of the stages in the pipeline need revision because you have more predictive data about closing rates.
With these principles, forecasting can become a strategic endeavor with a positive impact on results versus an inspection exercise that produces an educated guess. The best sales leaders I have worked with use the forecast as a tool to help them manage and lead the business, support strategic decisions, and determine how to allocate resources. Not just another spreadsheet to check the box on. Use these principles to help your sales organization to forecast more effectively and you will have created great value for your company and made your job much easier in the process.
EFFECTIVE SALES budgeting
Just like a chef needs to have the skills, right combination of ingredients and careful attention to detail to create an impressive and savory culinary delight that garners rave reviews, so must salespeople have the expertise, focus on the customer and formula for effective sales budgeting.
Calculating The Numbers
“Sales revenue budgets should always be higher than the business income budget, which should be 85 percent of your total sales quota “Typically, sales quotas can sustain a 5 to 10 percent increase over the previous year, assuming productivity improvements, added products or services and more sales from existing customers.
Individual sales quotas will typically be five to 10 times the total cost of a salesperson in a high-margin industry and 20 to 50 times the total cost in a slow growing or low-margin industry,”
“First, you need to determine your profit (which equals your personal savings goal or PSG), and add your personal expenses (PE) to determine your income goal (IG). The PSG + PE = IG. Then, determine the sales required to make your IG,”
Input On Sales Quota
Do salespeople usually have a say in their quota for the next year? “No, but I will compare quotas to what other similar type and size companies are establishing and what type of performance their salespeople have had,” believes that salespeople do have a say in their quotas. “Sales performance is always a product of a salesperson’s attitude and how they manage resources,” says Roby.
Critical Factors To Consider
“To determine your sales quota, you need to consider the percentage of new versus existing account revenue, what the average sales transaction was versus what was assumed , win rates versus competitors and whether there are new target markets,”. “Analyze your customer relationships, retain and expand your best accounts and find more customers like them.”
“Focus on how you can serve your customers better and what other customers they can introduce you to,. “Get a robust lead generation and marketing process in place, and focus on expanding your network, firing unprofitable customers and asking for referrals.
COMPUTER APPLICATIONS IN SALES MANAGEMENT
Computer applications can improve the effectiveness of the sales method and
generate more leads to the business.
Due to continuously expanding nature of business, it is very important to keep track of customers, an activity which used to be performed with pen and paper. With increasing
size of business and the competitors, it is advantageous to speed up the activities in the
sales process, so that more leads can be generated to the company. This is where
computer technology comes in, to make the processes effective and also to help in
increasing the efficiency of sales representatives in generating leads. Various technologies have been discussed here to give you an idea of what are the
current practices followed up in using technology as an important tool in sales process.
what type of computer applications are used by the sales representatives in the field, while interacting with the customers and types of applications that are used by the sales managers in monitoring their sales team and measuring the goals.
It is identified in many companies that sales representatives spend only 20-30
percent of their time in selling activities. Most of the time ends up in performing
administrative functions like coordinating the day to day meetings, checking the status of product that needs to be delivered, travelling, training etc. So it is very important for
the companies to use the computer applications in reducing wastage of the resources in non productive functions. Another major problem which companies face in today’s
world is attrition.
Computer applications can help in resolving of the problems which arise when a sales representative leaves the company. Finally we
shall identify if there are any disadvantages associated in with use of these computer
applications that to help sales activities.
Customer Information Management
Maintaining customer information is an important task to every business. Customer information may include some of the details like:-
→ Name of the customer
→ Address of the customer
→ Mobile/ landline/ fax numbers, e-mail, website address etc
→ Last date of meeting
→ Minutes of meeting
→ Future meeting schedules or follow up activities
→ Products/ services used
→ Products interested in future
→ Preferred time of calling
→ Any problems faced in the past
→ Customer rating about your company products/ services if provided
The list can be much more depending upon the customer, so maintaining such list is an important task of the sales representatives. Let us understand some of the disadvantages and preventive measures to be taken in the case of improper management of customer information. Some of them include:-
→ Address of the customer: If the address is not properly updated time to time,
the sales representative might find difficult in locating the customer when needed
to send some promotional offers or information about the new products/ services
launched by the company. So he should try to get both the residential and office
→ Mobile/ landline/ fax numbers, email: This information helps us in giving choice
to the customer for contacting him the customer. The sales representative
should try to get as many contact details as possible, so if mobile numbers is
changed then we can use landline as an alternative in contacting the customer.
→ Minutes of meeting: Improper entry or no entry about the minutes of meeting
can create many problems such as frequently asking the same questions for
customers which you have already discussed in previous meetings or you may
try to sell the same product/ service which the customer refused earlier. So
maintaining proper minutes of meeting can resolve such problems.
→ Preferred mode and time of contact: Nowadays customers are too busy and
prefer to interact in a particular time on a particular number. Some of the
customers prefer only emails. It is your job to maintain such information to avoid
any contact during their inconvenient times and places. These mistakes can be
very serious which can make you lose the customer permanently.
Contact Management Software
To decrease the workload in maintaining customer information, various contact
management softwares are available in the market. These softwares help the sales
representatives in getting a complete picture about the customer with a single touch.
You get access to all the critical data of the sale such as customer contact information,
minutes of meeting, relevant technical documents if any, partners associated with the
sale, future meeting schedules, important deadlines etc. in a single screen.
These softwares provide easy updating and avoid any discrepancies in data such as
multiple entries. These softwares can help in minimizing the mistakes that can happen
during the customer interaction and help in building stronger, long-lasting relationships.
If you are interacting with customer on the phone, you may use simple contact
management software in your computer, such as the address book provided by
windows. Sometimes it wouldn’t be practical to carry your computer especially when
you are at customer premises. Keeping this in mind, many software vendors providing
software applications which can be used in your mobile or PDA. Contact management
software can be used by the off-site sales representatives who are in the company and
also who are on-site at the customer premises. Most of the times companies buy
contact management software which would suit for their requirements. Some features
which you must check while buying such software products are:-
→ User friendly screens
→ Faster access to customer information
→ Easy-to-understand the functions by sales representatives i.e. less training
requirement for adoption
→ Having multiple views of the data, such as the total customer list, elite or platinum
customers, prospect list, recent customers list etc.
→ In today’s world every customer is having an email facility, so it is important that
the software would support email, fax, and call facility as per the scheduled time
with customer, group mailing when new products/ services launched etc.
→ Required information access in a single touch
The picture below helps us in understanding how a contact management application
looks like. This is Microsoft outlook new contact entry screen when you can enter
customer information like name, phone numbers, mailing address and much more.
You can see the call facility provided where you can call the customer, business card
and pictures can also be updated, you can add up reminders and schedules with the
customer in the follow up tab, you can locate the customer address suing the “map”
button and so on. This interface provides you a clear picture how contact management
software looks like. There are also many custom made contact management softwares
where you can approach the software vendors and create one for you.
Sales Force Automation
In today’s competitive world, managing the sales representatives is as difficult as
managing the customers. Contact management softwares can be very useful if the customer is handled by the same sales representatives all the time. In reality this is not
the case, as companies face high attrition rate due to more opportunities for sales
representatives in the industry. Some companies have 100% attrition within a year.
What would happen with the customer if the sales representative leaves the company and the customer is handled by other sales representatives? The problem can be severe if the sales representative leaves the company without notifying and company has no idea with the latest customer information the sales representative was handling.
Many problems may arise when the customer faces a new sales team. Customers would have to state all the requirements, budgets, features, payment details to the new
sales team, a process which can be time consuming and creates dissatisfaction among customers.
This scenario demands a computer application which will not just maintain the customer information in the sales representative computer, but can also report the latest
information to the sales manager in the company.
This is where the implementation of
sales force automation (SFA) software is required.
SFA connects all the sales representatives contact management software with a central
database for reporting. Various advantages of SFA include:-
→ Centralized data base for retrieval and updating customer information
→ Information sharing is the biggest advantage
→ Company has access to all the latest information about the customers
→ Sales team can be more responsible in entering right data, as company can track
when the data was updated and by whom
→ Data can be accessed anywhere irrespective of the location either using wired
networks like LAN, WAN or wireless networks like Wi-Fi.
→ Sales team can work from home whenever required as data can be accessed
→ Since all the customers data stored at one place, it would be easy to know the
efficiency of the sales teams, status of the targets and less duplication of the data
→ Due to centralized data, many departments can access the customer data so
multiple sales to the same customer by different teams can be avoided thereby
using the time more efficiently.
→ Matching the new products/ services to the entire customers can be done easily
as the data is centralized
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
SFA can be thought as a subset of CRM. SFA deals with data of the customer during
sale interaction where as CRM deals with automating all the customer related data
related to the sales, marketing, customer care, technical, finance, human resource
departments. CRM systems highlight the importance of integrating sales with other
CRM aims at putting the
customer at the center of the business process. In a client meeting you see not only the sales representative but also may see members from marketing, finance, technical departments participating. A system is required to be in place where all these business
operations need to be aligned. This is where the CRM applications come into picture.
Let’s now look at some of the CRM applications which are used by the companies.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides applications which focuses on sales, customer
service and marketing departments. Let’s understand the benefits of these applications
a) Sales Department: The CRM application for sales department is the SFA which
provides the following benefits:-
→ Improved sales planning and management
→ Automating the lead system
→ Managing sales opportunities effectively
→ Streamlining account management
→ Boosting sales productivity
→ Enhancing sales pipeline management
→ Simplifying workflow processes
→ Mobility in accessing customer data in real-time
→ Analytics for improved decision making
b) Customer care:
The CRM benefits provided for customer service include the
→ Improved account handling
→ Managing or resolving customer cases efficiently
→ Simplifying contract management
→ Knowledge management to store the staff experiences as a repository
→ Streamlining the schedules
→ Automating workflows
→ Mobility features for data
→ Analytics for customer service
c) Marketing Department:
Some of the CRM benefits provided for marketing
department include the following:-
→ Streamlining campaign planning
→ Managing events efficiently
→ Improved response management
→ Automating workflows
→ Analytics for marketing
→ Pinpointing the marketing efforts by instantly segmenting customers or prospects
→ Managing data effectively
→ User - friendly
→ Require continuous management and back-up facilities if the data crashes.
Open Source CRM applications
“software that is free to use, and the
original program can be changed by anyone”. Many opensource applications flooded
the market promising better CRM applications than the proprietary softwares.
Top 10 CRM applications designed in opensource platform are
i) Sugar CRM Inc
ii) SplendidCRM software Inc
v) Compiere Inc
vi) Vtiger CRM
vii) CentraView Inc
ix) Cream CRM
x) Tustena CRM
Let us now understand about various uses of Sugar CRM for the organizations:-
a) Sales Force Automation
Sugar CRM applications helps the sales manager in handling various functions such as
contact management, forecasting the revenues, managing accounts etc. The following
diagram is a snap shot of how the contact information such as name of the employee,
his/her designation or title, the account name handled and the contact information about
b) Marketing Automation
Sugar CRM provides several functions to handle the various marketing activities like
campaign management, email marketing, lead management, marketing analytics etc.
The following picture would help us in understanding how the leads are managed. In the
figure we can see that the entire leads the organization generated is categorized into different categories by the lead source like cold calling, purchases from existing
customer, public relations, direct mail etc. This sort of representation would gives us an
idea of which lead source is more profitable and identify the lead source which is
generating lowest revenue and plan according to improve the operations at that lead
source. Opportunities by lead source by outcome would help the manager in
understanding what part of the revenue is in qualification stage, proposal stage, closed
or won stage, negotiation stage etc. Such a view will help us in understanding the
performance of the lead source better.
Apart from sales and marketing automation sugar CRM also helps in providing and
developing the customer support, reporting, platform and collaboration capabilities.
2. Why sales training and sales force development should be thought of as a long¬term, ongoing process? Justify
The ultimate function of a sales force is to generate revenue for the company through the sale of its products or services. But the role of a properly developed and trained sales team encompasses so much more. They must build customer satisfaction and trust throughout the sales cycle. This creates repeat business and new business from customer referrals. Many companies have added a customer satisfaction metric to sales team evaluations. In the past these evaluations focused mostly on sales data. Truly professional sales people also strive to represent their company in the best possible light, even in their personal lives
Proper training of a sales force might consist of formal sales courses or seminars, but is often done in-house by more experienced salespeople. Some managers develop their own sales training programs. Training programs typically consist of ensuring sales people have a thorough knowledge of the products or services offered, role-playing activities and an ongoing mentoring program. Certain sales positions may require the sales people shadow current sales staff to learn required steps and protocols.
Sales managers should evaluate the sales force on a regular basis to monitor their success in meeting goals and building a customer base. Evaluations frequently include an analysis of sales numbers, strengths and weaknesses in a variety of areas and setting future goals. These evaluations help determine whether the sales force needs further training in certain aspects of the business.
• Sales training is a long-term process facilitating the continual growth and productivity of salespeople.
• Sales training includes these:
– formal programs
– informal programs
• These are the long-term objectives of sales training:
– find effective ways to plan, sell, and serve customers
– increase profits
• Long-Term Benefits of Sales Training
• Keys to Sales Training Success
• Here is what sales training should be:
– performance oriented
– easy to test and measure
– cost effective
– embraced by top management
Implementing Sales Training
• Sales Training Development Process
• Conduct a Training Needs Assessment
• Managers should review these aspects of a salesperson:
– previous job experiences
– gaps between their qualifications and the required job activities
• Determine Training Objectives
• The key is to focus on performance objectives in terms of achieving successful results from training.
• A primary objective of many training programs is to teach the sales force and distribution channel members how to be more productive.
• A contemporary philosophy is that professional salespeople are advisers or consultants, not mere product pushers.
• Salesperson as an
Advisor and Consultant
• develops a long-term relationship with clients
• identifies the client’s problems and suggests solutions
• depends on providing helpful information and service to secure business
• often works as a member of a team of specialists
• follows through to ensure customer satisfaction
• works closely with headquarters marketing support staff
• wants to participate in training to enhance selling and relationship-building skills
• Types of Sales Training Programs
• Determine Sales
Training Program Content
• Determine Sales
Training Program Content
• Making Training Delivery Decisions
• Making training delivery decisions encompasses the following:
– Who will conduct the training?
– Will it be for individuals or a group?
– What method of delivery should be used?
– Where and when will the training take place?
• Determine Responsibility for Training
• Choosing Instructional Methods:
Traditional Training Methods
3. group discussions
5. simulation games
7. on-the-job training
9. personal conferences
• Emerging Training Methods
• Location of Training
• Preparing, Motivating,
and Coaching Trainees
• Evaluating Training Programs
• Model of Training Effectiveness
• Sales Training Effectiveness
Continuous Training Programs
• Sales Training Challenges
For Global Companies
• Ethical Situation: What Would You Do?
Your company’s national sales manager has mandated that each salesperson must undergo training upon initially being hired and retraining every two years after that. You are very skeptical about training being of much value for seasoned salespeople who are performing well, and it’s frustrating and costly in terms of lost sales to pull them out of their territories for centralized training. Therefore, you’ve decided to do all the training of your experienced salespeople online via e-learning on your company’s intranet, so your salespeople can complete the programs on their own time after their normal working hours. You’ve heard that it’s best for the salespeople to interact with and learn from each other in their training, so you’ve encouraged the salespeople to contact each other to share perspectives. With the training budget money saved, you hold a party for all the salespeople who complete the e-learning on time and give special awards to those who score highest. In the first e-learning training cohort, you heard through the grapevine that the salespeople formed small teams to complete different parts of the training then passed the answers on to each other, so that none of the salespeople honestly went through all parts of the training. This may be happening in other e-learning training cohorts. If the national sales manager finds out, you’ll just pretend to be surprised and disappointed by your salespeople’s deception when you’ve put such trust in them via the self-programmed e-learning training program.
3 Keys to Sales Effectiveness
How to Create Renewable Competitive Advantage
It is a struggle creating higher revenue with win rates falling, longer sales cycles, and lack of sustainable sources of competitive advantage. But as products become more commoditized, innovations easier to replicate, and brand awareness less distinct and more expensive to create, where can organizations turn for that competitive advantage? The answer—the sales force.
The Problem – A Lack of Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Traditionally, a company could win long-term advantages with new products, or dominate with deep pockets and massive size, or capture markets with widespread brand recognition and global presence. Today, these attributes may produce a temporary market advantage, but may also create a competitive disadvantage. It is not enough now to develop a new product to sustain advantage because:
• Competitors will quickly set about to replicate and leapfrog the technology, creating products with shorter and shorter shelf life.
• Deep pockets and economies of scale have quickly given way to agility and customization.
• Brand recognition, while important, loses its impact in an environment where new and improved competitors surface daily.
• Increased regulatory pressure means fewer opportunities for companies to differentiate themselves.
So how can organizations sustain competitive advantage under these conditions?
The truth is there are no sustainable competitive advantages anywhere on the business horizon anymore. The traditional sources of advantage, even the strategy to sustain advantage, have proven to be too static for today’s tumultuous marketplace. It is a short-term market requiring speed and organizational agility. Each day companies must regain the right to the customer’s business, and regain the advantage over their competitors.
The Solution – Redefining Sales as a Source of Competitive Advantage
While there are no sources of sustainable competitive advantage left, we believe that one of the few remaining sources of renewable competitive advantage is the effectiveness of salespeople and sales managers. A recent study by Aberdeen found that the single largest business pressure concerning executives today is that "our products and brand are not distinctive enough to maintain customer loyalty." Market dominance has become a function of how fast and how effectively companies can operate on behalf of the customer and, at the same time, show more agility and savvy than the competition. The degree to which sellers can make doing business with them easy and rewarding for customers, and impact the critical success factors of the customer’s business, is a measure of their competitiveness.
Selling has grown increasingly complex and difficult. As research by CSO Insights shows, win rates are down dramatically and the number of calls required to win have increased steadily. Further, even when a salesperson wins a deal, 62% of sales executives believe that they are still "leaving money on the table."
Being a source of competitive advantage requires a sales force that has skills well beyond those of the past. It also requires sales management with both leadership character and management excellence. Current and future competitiveness requires anticipating the marketplace, not simply reacting quickly to customers.
Three Keys to Sales as a Source of Competitive Advantage
In the past, the successful salesperson was a persuader, a features expert, a detailer, or a challenger. This sales approach suited that environment, where customers had little information about providers, it was difficult to make direct product comparisons, and availability of products was always an issue.
Today is much different. Customers have almost too much information available; websites and consulting services are eager to provide product comparisons. Today’s customers find and screen providers before the providers even know there is a need. Customers are demanding that the salesperson justify the purchase in terms meaningful to the customer. As a result, successful salespeople become experts in their customers' businesses, function as problem-solvers, and think more about the customer's "buying process" and less about their own "sales process."
In our experience and research, creating sales effectiveness requires three key elements:
• Aligning your sales process to the new customer buying process
• Balancing the Consultant and Strategist roles of a sales force
• Ensuring sales managers add value
This paper examines each of these three elements and shows how each helps a sales force serve as a source of competitive advantage.
Aligning the Selling and Buying Processes
The first key element is the need to align your sales process with the customer’s buying process.