Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sales Management Creating An Effective Salesmanagement Program

Writen by Rick Johnson

To be truly effective and follow best practice involves focus, process, discipline and accountability. The sales team at most companies consist of all the individuals involved in the sales/marketing channel that serves the end user. Ideally, it should be a coordinated network, with strong alignment of individual activities with focus on objectives, process for continuous improvement, discipline toward utilizing best practice throughout the sales process and accountability for performance at all levels. Treating dealers, retail outlets, big box or direct customers as partners, rather than customers, means that you must be interested in what they are selling, and how they make money and not just how much they buy. Your sales objectives must be in alignment with corporate objectives and your customer's objectives.

Creating an effective sales program includes planning sales growth, profiling targeted accounts, executing account strategies and using objective feedback to continuously improve performance and drive accountability. Creating this process supports a structure and mechanism by which this network can be managed as an integrated whole. It consists of processes, measurements, training and tools to improve the sales performance of the selling team. The processes and measurements create discipline so that the training and tools are actually used and performance is continuously improved.

The secret is simple but often misunderstood. The secret behind effective sales management is simple: manage activities and measure results. Sounds simple but the misunderstanding lies in the fact that the link between activities and results is very short in demand fulfillment functions (entering customer orders today means shipping more orders today and tomorrow). However, that link for demand creation is much longer and tedious. It involves strategic selling, building relationship equity and the creation of tier level penetration strategies (relationships take months or longer to deliver revenue). In demand creation , attempting to manage results is like watering a plant after it has died from dehydration because the current results were determined by activities performed months in the past. The only way to create an effective sales program is to define the activities that will drive results and then manage those activities. This concept will also create discipline on the part of sales management on the back side of the performance loop

The key elements of this effective sales & management process are shown as follows:

Targeting, goal setting & action planning

Opportunity management



T.O.A.D. Territory Opportunity Action-planning Discussion

Targeting is a critically important sales practice - the difference between reactive selling (demand fulfillment) and strategic, proactive selling (demand creation). It is the process of selecting high potential accounts, creating tangible penetration plans for each, and translating their potential into achievable, numeric objectives. Targeting becomes an important driver for call planning and time management, as sales reps shift their focus to improving share of customer spend. In today's competitive market, sales personnel must learn about their customers' needs, how they make money, their pain and be able to provide real business value through consultative activities even if the solution is not related to the sale of their products..

Pipeline/Opportunity management refers to a structured process for identifying and acting on high potential, high probability sales opportunities. This activity is critical for visibility of potential future sales trends and encourages team selling and the engagement of the appropriate company resources to support growth in market share. It also eliminates the need for weekly or monthly call reports which are often fictional diatribes that could qualify the sales rep for a Pulitzer Prize nomination in journalism.

An individual sales scorecard for each sales person supports accountability and alignment with the company's strategic objectives. It is a diagnostic tool and a motivator. It should include both results measurements (e.g. gross profit growth) and supporting activity measurements (e.g. targeting activities, program compliance, opportunity successes). .

The toolkit is simply a library of best practice guidelines, reference material and other resources that anyone in the enterprise can peruse at his own convenience. The contents could include case studies, selling tips, call budgeting and planning tools, account penetration strategy guidelines, etc.

The territory opportunity action planning discussion (TOAD) is the most important element in the process. It is the mechanism that ensures timely feedback and a focus on setting and meeting objectives. Sales managers should center these monthly discussions around performance improvement, coaching on best practices and providing support to the sales team.

The T erritory O pportunity A ction-planning D iscussion (T.O.A.D.) can be as powerful as the kiss of the princess that turned the Toad into a Prince. It can be the cornerstone of your sales effectiveness program that maximizes revenue, improves profitability and increases market share for the company. And don't forget, this process which involves territory specific coaching and mentoring is a best practice. Dr. Rick Johnson is the founder of CEO Strategist LLC. an experienced based firm specializing in leadership development, strategic planning and the creation of competitive advantage in wholesale distribution. CEO Strategist LLC. works in an advisory capacity with distributor executives in board representation, executive coaching, team coaching and education and training to make the changes necessary to create or maintain competitive advantage. You can contact them by calling 352-750-0868, or visit for more information. CEO Strategist – experts in Strategic Leadership in Wholesale Distribution. Sign up for Rick's fr*e*e monthly news letter – "The Howl" email and just put The Howl in the subject line..

1 comment:

Ashutosh said...

Very well described, Emily! Really identify with your analysis. Thanks for sharing your views.

I have put in a reference to your article in our blog.