Ed. – Today we offer Keith Thompson’s comments on an article in The Economist about giving the sales function it’s proper attention, especially in the area of analytics.
This is an interesting blog entry from the Harvard Business Review Blog Network:
I come from the mold of CEO that has always been serious about sales. And I don’t think I’m in a minority. But this article is a wake-up call for top managers to make sure they give the sales function the appropriate importance and attention. What is appropriate — well, the sales team, group, division or whatever is the most important functional group within the organization. As I’ve defined it in my own work, sales is the business of doing business.
So let me comment on some parts of the blog.
“In writing the book Sales Growth, we’ve found that CEOs who put sales management at the heart of their agenda have captured astonishing growth — outstripping their peers by 50 to 80 percent in terms of revenue and profitability.”
No surprises here!
“Crank up the analytics. When it comes to selling, even many hard-nosed executives believe that sales is an art, and artists do their best work when left alone. But winning CEOs demand analytics from their sales organization (much as they do from operations or strategy) to help understand everything from the effectiveness of sales campaigns to opportunity analysis . . . ”
Sales Analytics are getting attention all right. But still the important point is getting missed—sales process analytics are of essential value to salespeople and sales management. For sales process analytics to work there has to be an accepted, respected, and mature sales methodology consistently used across the sales team.
“Optimizing sales operations with automated tools . . . . . . for specific tasks can improve revenues by 10 to 25 percent and reduce back-office costs by 20 to 30 percent.”
Especially if the tool is for computational selling. These are automated tools that work within the sales process to increase the overall productivity of the sales person to be able to work more opportunities with the same effort, and to work them better through computer modeling, analysis, and feedback.
“In one global manufacturing company, the CEO set up ‘sales factories’ comprised of specialized sales support for functional tasks and ‘deal coordinators’ to help shepherd deals through the system. Sales reps gained 15 percent more time for selling.”
Make sure your computational selling tool is available across the whole company or enterprise, in front of everyone involved directly or in support of the sales process.
“CEOs will always have to make decisions about where to invest their time to build their company. But if they are serious about growth, they need to get serious about sales.”
I would say, no option.