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Before You Take Another Bite

Four years ago you introduced a new sales process at your sales kickoff meeting. You certified all of your salespeople in the new process. Everyone was excited, and the new process was all anyone—especially leadership—could talk about for months. About three months.

The year after that you rolled a new sales force automation program that was going to arm the sales force with the modern tools they need to manage their client relationships and allow management to forecast. The excitement was palpable. For about 11 weeks.

The following year you rolled out redesigned territory plans, redesigned compensation structures, and a new management team. The sales force groaned, but it was necessary, and the consultants said it was going to help you reach your growth targets.

Then a new methodology was introduced. No one was really sure whether or not it was going to work, but hey, leadership loved it. Off you went, chasing the “new” new thing.

What Went Wrong

None of these initiatives worked. That means the sales process was wrong. It means the sales force automation failed. It means the territory plans and comp structures are still wrong, and they probably need looked at again.

But because these initiatives didn’t produce the desired results doesn’t mean that they were poor decisions. Something else is to blame: execution.

Unless you found a way to do something outrageously foolish, the sales process will work—if it is followed. But without it being wholly adopted as “the way we do business” and coached to by the sales management team, it’s as worthless as the paper it’s written on (or the stages so carefully delineated in your sales force automation).

Unless the SFA is used for more than forecasting, it isn’t going to help you manage the important asset that is your relationships. If the execution isn’t there, you might as well go back to spreadsheets.

The territory plan and compensation pans are important, but changing them every year doesn’t even provide you enough time and evidence to know what you should expect. As for the new methodology, the sales force has already come to expect it is the flavor of the month.

Every one of these initiatives is a big bite. Now you’ve bitten off way more than you can chew. You can’t swallow a single new initiative until you chew what you’ve already bitten off and swallow it.


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