Five Strategies To Build A World Class Sales Force in 2010

Neil Rackham, author of bestsellers such as SPIN Selling, Major Account Sales Strategy and Rethinking the Sales Force, and one of the leading minds in professional, consultative selling over the past 20 years, shares his five keys for building a world class sales force:

1) Salespeople must become value creators Too many salespeople are “talking brochures”, trying to show customers how their products or services are better than competitors. This is traditional value communication selling and it no longer works. Salespeople today must move from value communication to value creation. The salesperson must add as much value as the product. This calls for creativity and problem solving. Selling is no longer about persuasion. In the past, the product generated all the value. Each company made a unique product. The job of the salesperson was to explain to the customer the product’s value. In other words, salespeople were value communicators. Today there are many competing products and they are not unique. So the product has not enough value for the customer to prefer it to a competitor. The job of the salesperson changes under these circumstances. Salespeople today must be value creators. They must be experts and they must be creative problem solvers.

2) Fewer accounts means more sales Salespeople love to have lots of opportunities. A salesperson who has ten customers to chase feels much safer than if they had only five. As a result, many salespeople are half chasing twice as many opportunities. They don’t sell deeply enough, they don’t plan adequately and they lose business to competitors who put more resources into the best opportunities. I often find that I can get a dramatic improvement in results by taking away 20 – 30% of a salesperson’s prospects. Salespeople hate this and they argue against it – but it works. In complex sales the best metrics are about effectiveness, not efficiency.

3) Sales supervisors are the key to success : I have played a part in the reorganization and performance improvement of over 100 large sales forces. It’s my experience that whether change succeeds – and whether results significantly improve – depends much more on sales supervisors than on salespeople. When I’m working to improve the performance of a sales force, I give most attention to building competent sales supervision. Secondly, Create a “high performance culture.” This means that you recruit only the best. When salespeople join your company, you tell them, “Only the top performers will stay. After a year, you must prove that you should stay – we don’t prove that you should go.” And get rid of poor performers quickly. Research shows that the number one reason why a salesperson doesn’t improve is that there is another person in the same team who is doing worse. Money is an important motivator but it is not everything. Money attracts and keeps high performers. It encourages people to sell harder. But paying people more doesn’t make them more smart.

4) Coaching brings results Every world-class sales force I’ve worked with puts great emphasis on coaching. They don’t just give lip service to coaching; they create systems and processes to make coaching happen. Yet few sales managers understand important coaching concepts, such as how skills coaching is different from strategy coaching. The best way to improve sales results is to make effective coaching happen. A great sales team starts with a manager who is a great coach. Next, the salespeople must have shared values. For example, they must care about their customers. They must be truthful and they must understand their products. Salespeople are very competitive and they are not good at helping each other. To create a “dream team” their manager must encourage cooperation and caring. The salespeople must learn to help each other.

5) Integrate sales and marketing I’ve been working closely with Philip Kotler, the marketing guru, to find ways to help sales and marketing work better together. When we published some of our thinking recently in Harvard Business Review, we were flooded with emails from CEO’s, Sales VP’s and Marketing VP’s from all over the world. So we know it’s an important topic and exciting new ideas are being tried out.

Would you like Neil Rackham’s help in building your world class sales force? If so, please contact Kavita Mistry at Knowledge Capital at (93200 48060. Neil is coming to India first time in February 18-19, 2010. We would be happy to work with you.

PS: This was an invite I thought this will be very useful and posted it here.