For those who have worked in senior sales management positions, the name Miller Heiman will not be an unfamiliar one. For more than 30 years the business has provided thought leadership in sales, offering some of the biggest companies in the world sales consultancy and training. In their recent report the strategies for thriving in a post recession economy are highlighted and the results would be of interest for any sales management team.
What does a world class sales Organisation look like?
Miller Heiman have surveyed and worked with enough clients to understand and prove what a world class organisation looks like, even in recession years there were organisations that were still able to; find and win new business, keep existing customers and increase revenue. The world class sales organisations had 20% better year over year growth compared to other companies.
Miller Heiman’s annual research found that 6% of their respondents qualified as world class, compared to 4.5 in 2010 and 7% in 2009. The key question being, what activities take place in World class sales organisations that produced superior results?
One of the initial discoveries of the survey found that some of the activities that organisations returned to in this environment did not deliver results, these included;
· cold calling
· increased discounting
· pursuing customers in non-traditional market places
Whereas the activities that produced more favourable results were generally more customer focussed, and included;
· Formalising a value proposition that is compelling to prospects
· Jointly setting long-term objectives of strategic accounts
· Collaborating across departments to pursue large opportunities
The report also highlighted areas where the world class organisations also differentiated itself from other businesses, these included good sales and marketing alignment and investment in CRM. There was also further definition of the value of CRM with a caveat of explaining that CRM’s can be an accelerator of momentum rather than a creator of it.
Other areas that differentiated included good time management from senior sales leaders, where the poorer performing organisations had management spending time on sales meetings, reporting and internal meetings rather than time spent on one to one meetings with the team.
Top Sales Initiatives for 2011
The report defines the key initiatives that sales management should be adopting for a world class 2011, the following best practices activities included;
· Creating Opportunities – through well defined prospect plans
· Managing Opportunities – with a well defined methodology
· Managing Relationships – more time spent with key accounts at executive level
· People and Organisations – knowing why top performers are successful
· Support and Enablement – utilising infrastructure and technology
· Management Execution – align organisation to meet customer needs and leadership team taking active role in sales process
The report goes into more detail of the exact initiatives that should be adopted, but the following look like excellent examples;
· A formalised value proposition through sales and marketing
· Cross department collaboration on bigger deals
· Social media as a tool to identify decision makers
· High level executive involvement in key accounts
· Sales performance metrics aligned with business objectives
· Confidence in CRM data
· Leveraging best practice of top performers to improve other personnel
Looking Forward to 2011
The survey highlighted that a frequent response to what participants saw as the biggest risks and rewards for the year was going to be the economic conditions. This was often seen as a negative implication, although the more confident respondents were keen to point out that there were good opportunities where weaker performing companies would not be able to perform in conditions, leaving more opportunities for them.
Competition was also a risk, but perhaps unduly considering the points made earlier in the report, the threat of lower prices and sacrificing margins to steal business away were concerns that many respondents to the survey had.
The report concludes that “Miller Heiman will expect to see a continued focus on driving salesperson productivity through improved front-line sales management effectiveness, more visibility to sales performance through CRM consolidation and adoption, and improving alignment between nor only sales and marketing, but between every department that interacts with customers as a way to stay connected to the trends that will shape their success in the future’