What Does Sales Effectiveness Mean to a CEO…?

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…quite a bit. Things change for CEOs when discussing the very expensive and crucial part of business called Sales. This is where the rubber meets the road – either deals get closed or not; therefore, the more effective and productive your sales team, the better the revenue opportunity.

However, most attention around sales effectiveness has been concentrated on sales training and process, product/service knowledge,  best practices, CRM usage, forecasting and other critical items.

There is still a lot of room for improvement in sales effectiveness when we focus on making sales people more productive. One way to accomplish this is to help them focus on high return prospects.  Which prospects have a propensity to pick up the phone when an outbound call is made?

Only 4 – 7 raw leads per 100 are ready to buy (Meclabs)

Not only is it helpful to focus on high return prospects but it’s also important for sales to not focus on generating and nurturing their own leads. That responsibility should be off-loaded onto others that can perform these tasks.  Sales people should feel comfortable enough focusing on what they are hired to do and the thing that really requires their expertise – selling.

As a matter of fact at a recent Sales 2.0 conference, it was stated that 72% of nurturing falls under the responsibility of the sales department.

Marketing Sherpa research found that 64% of Sales and Marketing executives were unhappy with the results derived from their nurturing programs.

So, what needs to occur to increase sales effectiveness?  The following items:

Sales should call “sales ready” leads, not inquiries or suspects – marketing/inside sales/telemarketing, (whoever is providing the leads directly to sales) should take the responsibility of passing over “sales ready” leads as defined by marketing and sales.  This definition is specific to each organization and can evolve over time. We often work with companies that start with a  very “loose” definition of what “sales ready” is until the sales team gets comfortable with what they are being handed.   Additionally sales should be provided additional sales intelligence about these “sales ready” leads – what behavior, BANT information, demographics do they have or did they exhibit to qualify them to be considered “sales ready.”

Sales should focus on selling and minimize time spent on lead generation and lead nurturing – this obviously can only work if marketing takes the responsibility to take on these tasks.  Lead generation can become much more efficient and effective if lead nurturing is part of the process.  Lead nurturing, those leads at the top of the funnel (we are not referring to active opportunities), also should be part of marketing’s role.   Although it’s difficult to suggest that already resource constrained marketing staffs need more responsibility, it’s imperative to maximizing the lead management process within organizations. With new technologies, marketers should some leverage to help offset the extra burden.

2 Responses to “What Does Sales Effectiveness Mean to a CEO…?”

  1. Leanne Hoagland-Smith August 23, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    If we agree that sales effectiveness encompasses the entire sales process, then there should be more focus on the marketing phase within that process. My sense is many of these firms do not have a well researched marketing plan, less alone a strategic plan.

    With the majority of businesses being small, sales people are also marketers if we agree that the purpose of marketing is to attract attention and build the relationship.

    The firms with dedicated sales and marketing departments are fewer and fewer. Maybe now it is time to rethink both sales effectiveness. From my experience if you market well to the right target market who is your best ideal potential customer and you know how to position the value you deliver to meet that customer’s strategic initiatives, you truly do not have to sell or “close the sale” because that company wants you to support them.

    I suggest reading A Seat at the Table and Pitch Anything to understand the 21st global and technology driven marketplace.

    Leanne Hoagland-Smith
    Author of Be the Red jacket

  2. Robert Zinsser August 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    I work closely in the area of Sales Effectiveness and have been in sales for over 30 years. I recently locked onto an idea that says that the CEO should not be concerned with the volume of leads in the “sales funnel” but the quality of the prospects. The sales people need to ask some “tough” questions that might take that prospect out of the funnel. I also agree that marketing and sales need to work closer on getting sales ready leads to the sales people and not just leads. There has been much written on the subject and rightfully so.

    Robert Zinsser – Get In The Game SE
    Jacksonville, FL