January 6th, 2014

Improve Sales Results in 2014 with Your Sales Performance Value Chain

sales-performance

Improve Sales Results in 2014 with Your Sales Performance Value Chain

In 2014, how will you better enable and support your sales force?

  • Do you plan to tackle a major sales force transformation, or …
  • Do you aim to fine-tune the processes, systems, and tools that you have in place?

In either case, but certainly the latter, it makes sense to consider your Sales Performance Value Chain.

The Sales Performance What?

What’s a Sales Performance Value Chain, you ask?  Why, it’s a phrase I just strung together (read:  made up) to refer to the series of places where we uncover and deliver value to our clients.  If we can improve performance in these areas by better supporting the sales force, we’re likely to win more deals and effectively grow current accounts.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know I’m a fan of what I call the Sales Performance Ecosystem.  Some find the ecosystem daunting.  Aligning all of the parts of the ecosystem is certainly a major sales transformation effort.  No one (worth listening to) is going to make recommendations for your specific organization without conducting an analysis first, and neither should you, but I will at least attempt to offer a relatively simple way to approach pieces of the ecosystem that have the potential to make a big impact quickly.

To do that, let’s look first at the approach we’ll take in each of the links of the value chain that we want to strengthen and support.

People | Process | Methodology | Technology (PPMT)

In the immortal words of Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters:  “We have the tools, and we have the talent!”

In slightly different words, we often hear the phrase, “people, process, and technology” bantered as a framework for improving organizational performance.  Because there are key differences between process and methodology, and because sales methodology is a big piece of sales performance, let’s expand this phrase to “People, Process, Methodology, and Technology” (PPMT):

People

Do you have the right people in the right roles?

Process

What steps do they follow to accomplish objectives?

Methodology

What do they do in each step to move forward in the process?

Technology

What tools can they use to support the process or methodology?

This is over-simplified for a short blog post, of course, but it is “directionally correct.”  For process and methodology especially, you can drill a lot deeper through the 5 Ws and 1 H (who, what, why, when, where, and how), but hopefully, this is clear as a starting point.

Sales Performance Value Chain

Now, consider these select elements or “links” of the Sales Performance Ecosystem.  I call this subset of the ecosystem the Sales Performance Value Chain because it’s through our people (our talent) and these three activities (aka support opportunities) that we deliver our value to clients.

Sales Talent Management Support

How you select, onboard, train, and develop your sales professionals, including both frontline sales reps and their managers/coaches

Lead Acquisition/ Management Support

How you generate, nurture, qualify, and pursue leads to create opportunities

Account Development Support

How you review, analyze, strategize, plan, and execute with current accounts to grow them and pursue possibilities to create opportunities

Opportunity Management Support

How you manage both the above new and growth opportunities through their buying process and your pipeline to acquire new accounts or grow current ones.

PPMT Meets the Value Chain

For each of these four links in the chain, you can use the PPMT framework to identify what’s working, what’s not, what top producers do more effectively, where gaps exists, and what you can do in each area to close them.

If you have the same staff doing the work across all these tasks (perhaps in a smaller organization where the work may not be segmented by functions like Marketing, Inside Sales, Field Sales, Account Managers, Sales Operations, etc.), you may need to separate out the People/Talent piece of the equation because you’ll only be asking it once in the Talent Management section, versus asking it across the other three links.  For the most part, however, you should be able to consider PPMT in each of the above chains beyond the Sales team to ensure the right people are in the right roles in all functions that support Sales.

As an example, in Lead Acquisition/Management, you can now ask questions about each piece of PPMT:

  • People:  Do we have the right people in place in each of the roles that support lead acquisition and lead management?  How do we know?  What can we learn from studying the top performers?  Can we coach and develop others to do similar things (close a knowledge or skill gap), or are gaps more related to things like culture fit, job/role fit, motivational fit, and occupational interests?  How can we ensure we have the right people in the right places to get the best results?
  • Process:  What steps do they follow to accomplish objectives?  Are these steps effective if followed well?  Do they consider the buyer’s perspective?  Is there flexibility when needed?  What do the top performers do similarly and differently than average performers?  How can the process be fine-tuned to be more effective?
  • Methodology:  What do the players do in each step to move forward in the process?  Add all the 5 Ws and 1 H, and also, compare top to mid producers.  Build training around top-producer practices or known-effective practices, and develop Continue | Start | Stop lists, highlighting differences between what top producers do versus others.
  • Technology:  What tools are performers using to support the process or methodology?  How well are these tools working?  Are they being used as intended and to maximum effectiveness?  What can we learn from top performers?

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

This is just one example.  You can ask similar questions using the PPMT framework as you move through the other links of the value chain (or almost anywhere in the larger Sales Performance Ecosystem).  By doing this each time, you can begin to identify areas for improvement and create plans to close gaps.

Make sense?  I hope so.  Either way, please drop a comment and let me know.  As always, I’d be pleased to answer questions, bounce ideas, or refer you to someone who can help if you’d like to take a deeper dive.  Whether it’s tackling some low-hanging fruit early in 2014 to improve your chance of making the numbers this year or preparing for a large-scale sales transformation effort, there are few things more important than enabling and supporting your sales force to the best of your ability.

And, just in case … if you haven’t officially documented our purposefully designed your sales processes and selected effective methodologies to support them, make 2014 the year you do it.  If you need support, we can help.

learning-and-development

About The Author: Mike Kunkle

Mike Kunkle is Richardson's Director of Product Development. Bringing over 25 years of experience in the sales profession, Mr. Kunkle is a training and organizational effectiveness leader with special expertise in sales force transformation. After his initial years on the front line in sales and sales management, he has spent the past 16 years as a corporate director or consultant, leading departments and projects with one purpose — to improve sales results. He led major sales optimization efforts in both B2B and B2C environments, producing significant results for both employers and clients.

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2 Responses to “Improve Sales Results in 2014 with Your Sales Performance Value Chain”

  1. January 07, 2014 at 8:58 am, David Cherrington said:

    Hi Mike, I enjoyed your blog on sales performance value chain. We are 17 billion commercial bank holding company and we have recently tackled the people segment in our cash mangement (aka Tresaruy Services) group. The next phase we need to address is Process. We hold monthly meetings with our sales officers and would like to provide our team with more training on specific sales tactics, such as how to handle objections, what steps to take to move the sales to a close status, how to build your pipeline, etc. Do you know of any websites or does Richardson have any resources that we could use that would help our sales training efforts.

    [REPLY]

    • Mike Kunkle

      January 07, 2014 at 10:08 am, Mike Kunkle said:

      Hello David, thanks for reading and even more for writing. Kudos on your efforts! I was just saying to someone that while the ideas in this post aren’t “new” per se (just a new twist, perhaps), that I’m always surprised how few companies purposefully define and document their sales processes, and ensure their methodologies will move clients through the stages effectively. So, it was reconfirming to get your note today and very pleasing to hear you’re moving in this direction. (On a separate note, also wise that you started with the people segment first.) In short, yes, we have resources and services for defining and capturing sales process and training on the methodologies that are most likely to shepherd an opportunity from one stage of the process to the next. We also have resources to help managers reinforce training at meetings. I’ll have someone reach out to you, to ensure our advice is on track for your situation. I’d enjoy hearing about your progress over time and would be pleased to connect on LinkedIn, if you’re open to that. Mike

      [REPLY]

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