‘Hard work is its own reward’ says the proverb and certainly successful salespeople are no strangers to hard work. However, as successful sales teams know hard work is only part of the success equation. Working smarter, not just harder is a key requirement of the successful sales team and that relates very much to the concept of sales engine versus sales effort.
The Sales Peron ‘Run Ragged’
In the complex sale it is not the salesperson who completes 20 meetings in a week that wins, but the salesperson who:
- Has 10 effective meetings (thanks in part to a higher level of preparation and pre-qualification in advance, as well as more effective sales aides)
- Follows them up more effectively (facilitated by notes and actions kept in a sales system and an effective process for nurturing prospects)
- Enjoys above average conversion rates (by following a reliable sales process, effective opportunity reviews and a team based approach to the sale)
- Balances prospecting with selling and has the cover of marketing
Time and time again we see that it is not the salesperson that is ‘run ragged’ sending more emails, making more pitches and writing more proposals that enjoys the greatest success. Rather success goes to the salesperson who:
- Has a system for success that enables him, or her to work smarter, not harder
- Follows a process to ensure that his, or her actions are consistently effective
- Who has the tools, messages and materials required to be effective
- Is backed up by sales led marketing activity to assist in maintaining a balanced pipeline
- Is not working in isolation (indeed the lone ranger is fast disappearing from sales)
The same is true of sales teams and organizations – while characterized by high levels of activity, their success is not won by dent of sheer effort alone. The overall result is greater than the sum of the efforts of individual sales team members, or individual sales campaigns – that is where there is (a) a consistent process, (b) a high level co-ordination and (c) the back of up of effective systems and structures.
(a) Consistent and more efficient processes around selling:
Managers are applying the same structure, science and discipline to sales and marketing as to any other area of business. They are discovering the best way for their organizations to sell and applying it with greater consistency to boost the results achieved.
In other words managers are applying ‘work smarter, not harder’ thinking to sales and marketing. They are examining how they generate leads, conduct sales meetings, write proposals and every other step of the sale in order to maximize success and improve win rates. Even if the opportunities for improvement in each of these areas are individually small, the overall impact across the sales process of many changes can be dramatic.
(b) More Integration and Coordination of Sales & Marketing:
This drive for increased sales effectiveness has focused managers on the cracks between their various individual elements of their sales and marketing.
They are integrating every aspect of their sales and marketing into a effective system for growth. That means integrating everything – every sales call, campaign, and message – as part of the revenue-generating engine of the business.
(c) Better Systems and Structures:
Sales opportunities are too few in number and too expensive to progress, to be left to chance. That means managers are adopting systems to provide greater visibility, predictability and control across the sales team. These systems also automate key sales and marketing tasks – from the automatic capture of web enquires, providing a central repository for contact information, to the triggering diary alerts of key actions relating to sales opportunities. They are also turning attention to the effectiveness of such structures as sales team meetings, or pipeline reviews.
As a result of all these trends, sales is inevitably becoming more engine-like, that is more systematic, more efficient and more effective.