A recent Miller Heiman Sales Effectiveness Study illustrates activities widely recognized as posing the greatest challenge for sales organizations to achieve their goals. Of the 45 dimensions of sales force effectiveness explored, there is strong consensus among both executive-level management and field-level professionals regarding which activities pose the greatest difficulty. The following is a ranking of the top five most difficult sales success-related challenges:
- Leveraging potential of performers
- Generating qualified prospects
- Difficulty selling new products and services
- Increasing revenue with fewer people and resources
- Leveraging customer data to drive sales strategy
Sales Organization Relevant Data Points
- 54% of sales leaders believe they have the right people in their sales organizations
- 56% of sales leaders believe the people in their sales organizations are in the right positions
- 54% of sales leaders recognize they have an inadequate process for leveraging the potential of strong performers
- Only 29% of sales leaders believe the talent in their sales force is being fully utilized
Ranking the top three activities considered to have the greatest impact in contributing to overall sales effectiveness
The Miller Heiman Sales Effectiveness Study identifies those activities considered by winning sales organizations to have the greatest impact toward improving the overall productivity and effectiveness of their selling organizations. The study defined “winning sales organizations” as those respondents indicating improved sales performance in 2008 compared to 2007 results. Nearly half of all respondents to the survey represented “winning sales organizations.”
Analysis of survey responses from this population revealed activities considered to have the greatest impact toward achieving improved performance. Of the 45 different dimensions of sales effectiveness analyzed, winning sales organizations ranked the following three activities as most likely to have the greatest impact toward improving sales force effectiveness:
- Ability to place talented people in the right positions
- Ability to effectively and efficiently move opportunities through the various stages of the sales funnel
- Ability to effectively reach and influence executive-level decision makers
#1 Ranked Activity: The ability to place the right people in the right positions
Putting the right people in the right positions is overwhelmingly ranked as the number one factor considered most likely to improve overall sales force effectiveness. Senior-level sales management participating in the 2004 Miller Heiman Sales Effectiveness survey ranked this as 15% more influential than the survey population as a whole.
In fact, the ability to have the right people in the right positions is up to ten times more likely to impact sales results than other talent-related dimensions of sales effectiveness analyzed, including recruitment and retention.
Putting the right people in the right positions isn’t subjective. You must have a formal process that quantitatively assesses the strengths and capabilities of each individual team member. The ability to absorb product knowledge, business acumen, or specific industry experience are all really good. But to make smart, talent-based decisions, you must understand the inherent strengths of an individual and put them in positions that leverage those strengths.
Consider the qualities and strengths of “hunters.” They have the strengths required to pursue the right kind of business and appreciate higher-than-average close ratios. Does everyone in your sales organization tasked with prospecting new business share the traits required for success?
What about “farmers?” These are the people in account management who excel at developing relationships and find reward in building long-term rapport and value with the client. Are these salespeople in positions and roles most aligned with their strengths?
Sales Effectiveness Relevant Data Points
- 60% of survey respondents believe their organization has the right talent within the selling organization
- 54% of survey respondents believe these talented people are in the right positions
- 34% of survey respondents feel an adequate process exists for recruiting and hiring qualified talent to join the sales team
- 54% of survey respondents admit the talent in their sales force is under-utilized