If you’re like most VPs of Sales, you’ll soon turn your attention to hitting the 2015 number. As we shared recently, creating your 2015 plan, with help from Cracking the Sales Management Code, is a more systematic way to engineer to success. To review, we broke apart the plan into three parts:
- Business Results – the goals handed to sales each year, such as Financial and Market Share targets
- Sales Objectives – these are the levers through which you reach your Business Results. Think of Market Coverage, Product Focus, or Customer Focus as viable options.
- Sales Activities – Sales Activities are actual sales force actions, such as Territory Management, Opportunity Management, or Sales Force Enablement.
Think of it as a hierarchy: at the top are the Business Results, like revenue. To build to this goal, you set several Sales Objectives, which depend on selecting the right Sales Activities to manage and engineer to your success.
Here are three potential Sales Objectives to focus on in 2015 to help to power revenue growth. The first is Product Focus, deciding which solution or product needs to grow in sales to achieve higher returns. The second is Market Coverage, the right ways to approach a new segment and activate new sales in unfamiliar territories. Finally, Salesforce Capability looks at you manage and apply tools like your sales process.
1. Product Focus
Everyone wants to sell more product and bigger deals, but the world has moved toward crafting specific solutions that are more customer-centric. Whether a new product, an undersold solution, or a high-value option, building the 2015 plan around a specific product goal can be an extremely valuable exercise.
The Sales Activity that helps drive toward a product goal is Salesforce Enablement, more specifically the training, content, and messaging that you already use to boost your team’s abilities. Getting reps and managers up to speed on a solution comes back to the right education process, with the right content to enable them to sell. Reps need to be able not only to articulate the product to the market, but also to put it in context of a solution, educating and solving a prospect’s issue. Using a practice-based sales training and certification program, can help ensure your reps are actually carry the appropriate product focus
2. Market Coverage
Entering a new market segment is a classic way to drive new revenue, but only if you understand that segments receptivity. New segments bring new messaging, new attack plans, and new challenges, all of which alter the Sales Activities you choose to drive.
To drive at a new market segment, reps need to alter their approach. Who are the existing customers in the space that you work with? Are there any specific needs that are unique to that space? By communicating you understand the segment and its unique challenges, you’ll penetrate it at a higher rate. Now you need a place to collect and disseminate your company’s distinct point of view in each segment.
Here, you’ll look similarly to Account and Territory Management to drive toward success. Both mean peeling apart the measures that define success with a particular account or territory. To build toward Market Coverage, look at metrics like net new meetings in the space or calls into the new market. Once you begin to track, you can work toward the Sales Objective.
3. Salesforce Capability
Salesforce Capability looks at how your team operates and how able they are to sell and convert. It includes the sales stages, the training, and the continuous development that creates a successful sales process. When approaching the 2015 plan, one effective way to drive toward new revenue is to review Opportunity Management, how the team actually handles the process of converting a lead to an opportunity and customer, and the difference in messaging in each stage of the sales cycle.
CEB research finds that reps will, when missing the right messaging, default to whatever they learned last, making it imperative to drill the use of the right messages at the right time. Different sales cycle stages require different messaging and approaches that reps may not be executing live. Without changing the message in each stage, moving from general insight and education to positioning the solution within the market and matching a need, the chances of the sales being lost or delayed surprisingly increase with each step.
Guiding the team toward a dynamic sales cycle requires both planning and education. Looking at the buyer and seller stages together, for example, helps your reps and managers to understand what a certain stage of the process looks like, what the appropriate messaging is, and how the buyer will receive it. Once a plan is established, getting reps and managers applying messaging requires training, both highlighting a path to success with the new system and giving reps the skills necessary to identify and activate the right messaging at the right stage.