Tag Archives: Sales Productivity

Sales Enablement Can Be the Pits

I recently went to see Ron Howard’s latest movie Rush. If you are not familiar with the movie, it’s about two Formula One racecar drivers and their intense rivalry. While the movie was disappointing, it had some great driving footage – and one scene in particular that caught my attention and got me thinking of sales enablement. (You know it has to be a pretty bad movie when I start to daydream about sales enablement.) The scene showed the orchestrated precision of a Formula One pit crew. Within a few seconds, tires were changes and fuel was topped. The pit crew was run by a crew chief, who also helped the driver set strategy before the race and adapt strategy during the race via radio communications. So, here’s what got me thinking of sales enablement.

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Focus on the Enablement Quadrant

For those who may not know, Vince Lombardi was a legendary American football coach for the Green Bay Packers. At the risk of using yet another analogy comparing sports with sales, I’d like to share a passage from the book Run to Win: Vince Lombardi on Coaching and Leadership by Donald T. Phillips: “At the end of the day, Vince Lombardi realized that once the players were in a game and on the playing field, there wasn’t very much that he, as their coach and leader, could do to affect the outcome. And, not surprisingly, the football players on his team realized it, too. In fact, the Green Bay Packers had a running joke about it. “We have the greatest coach in the world,” it went, “but once the game gets started, Lombardi is the most useless guy on the sidelines.”

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All Onboard! Findings from Our Enablement Roundtable

We recently gathered sales enablement leaders in the Atlanta area for a roundtable on sales onboarding. There was a lot of great discussion and sharing of common challenges, innovative ideas and best practices. (If you are a SiriusDecisions client, we’d be happy to send you our notes captured during the session). Here are some highlights:

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Sales Operations: Applying the “Necessary and Sufficient” Test

Economists often use the terms “necessary and sufficient” when considering a proposed course of action. For example, is it necessary for the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low? If so, is that step sufficient to stimulate economic growth, or are additional actions required? Sales operations leaders can use a variation of the “necessary and sufficient” concept to evaluate proposed activities, projects or investments. The test consists of two fundamental questions: Is it necessary to take corrective action (i.e. what will happen if nothing is done)? And, if the proposed action is deemed necessary, is it sufficient to correct or address the root cause of the problem? Sales operations leaders should ask the following questions:

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Pipeline Multipliers: The Math Just Does Not Work

Increasing the pipeline multiplier means putting more junk in the pipeline and hoping to improve output. Can you imagine a manufacturer taking this approach? We are going to keep output the same by lowering the quality of our raw material and increasing waste. Rarely is decreasing efficiency the answer to improving rep productivity, as shown by a SiriusDecisions study. We divided more than 200 b-to-b companies into two groups: those that mandated a 3X (or less) pipeline and those that managed a 4X (or greater) pipeline. Here’s what the data showed us:

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Observable Outcomes: A Checklist For Sales

At SiriusDecisions, we’ve studied and written at length about the value of aligning the sales process with the customer buying process. A typical sales process includes a series of stages through which b-to-b buyers pass before making a complex purchase and correlates to the actions a seller takes (e.g. analyze needs, qualify, identify solution, propose solution) to manage opportunities through the pipeline. But that’s not nearly enough. A best practice sales process goes beyond the high-level stages and includes knowledge inflection points and observable outcomes associated with each stage. An observable outcome, similar to a checklist item, is a measurable, verifiable and specific response from – or an action taken by – the buyer. Here are a few examples:

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Are You a Sales ACE?

In 2004, I had the opportunity to hear Mike Ditka speak at a corporate event. You may remember him as “Da Coach” of the Chicago Bears for 11 years. At the event, Ditka described the key qualities that he looked for in a player and a person: attitude, character and enthusiasm (ACE). I believe the same philosophy can be applied in any work environment and especially to customer-facing roles, such as sales, sales operations and sales enablement.

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Where Does the Time Go for Your Reps?

At the recent SiriusDecisions Summit, Mark Levinson – service director, Sales Operation Strategies – and I introduced a new model called the Relative Productivity Framework to help marketing and sales leaders better understand where their reps are spending their time. There is no question that improving sales productivity is a top-of-mind issue. During our instant poll at Summit, 42 percent of attendees said they were “very confident” their reps were not fully productive. The problem? Traditional time and motion studies used to record where reps spend their time don’t provide enough insight on true rep productivity.

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Summit 2013 Highlights: Apply Productivity Analysis to Improve B-to-B Sales Results

Time is the most valuable resource a sales rep has: “A salesperson has, typically, 50 hours in the week in which to work. It’s the job of both marketing and sales to ensure that those 50 hours are spent as productively as possible,” said Jim Ninivaggi, service director of Sales Enablement Strategies at SiriusDecisions, who spoke at Summit 2013 this morning. B-to-b organizations often struggle to keep reps focused on higher-yield activities that lead to closing deals and bringing in revenue. This was borne out by the results of an instant poll of the Summit 2013 audience: Only 1 percent of participants polled felt very confident that their reps are fully productive vs. 41 percent who are very confident that their reps are not fully productive.

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Four Proven Ways to Reach at Least 90 Percent Sales Quota Attainment

How can you improve the performance of your b-to-b sales organization? Set higher quotas? Provide higher commissions or accelerators? Increase training? Hire more sales specialists or, perhaps, administrators? Which levers should you push and why? In the past, we have written about the clear relationship between pipeline-to-quota ratios and pipeline conversion ratios and pipeline velocity (3x-or-less pipelines have better conversion rates, while 4x-or-more pipelines have faster velocity, but that does not make up for the worse conversion rates). Analysis of our sales benchmark data reveals four interesting commonalities between b-to-b organizations that reported at least 90 percent annual quota attainment for their sales force.

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