Saturday, January 27, 2007

Four sales lessons from 2006

Warning: Ally Motz, CEO of management-services provider SiriusDecisions Canada, uses a lot of big words. But he’s done some serious thinking about the latest trends in sales and marketing.

In an article in the latest issue of SalesExchange, published by the Canadian Professional Sales Association, he shares four key lessons his firm learned last year, and looks at how these findings could shake out in 2007. Here's my edited version.

“Productivity” is now the in word. Since the dawn of time, sales productivity has meant one word – revenue. Now that’s changing.

Motz defines sales productivity as the measure of time and effort expended by salespeople to create the high-quality, customer-relevant interactions required to advance and eventually close an opportunity. Organizations that track salespeople’s ability to be efficient and effective with these interactions, and then consistently help them to improve, will have many options to drive better performance.

Shared metrics are becoming all the rage. More b-to-b organizations are creating funnels that depict the end-to-end demand process, and measuring the ability of sales and marketing to convert at five key junctures: response, marketing-qualified lead, sales-accepted lead, sales-qualified lead and closed business.

Next-generation funnels must consider the reputation activities that are seeding demand programs at the top of the funnel, building out the link between what Motz calls reputation and demand creation.

The technology is beginning to catch up to aspirations. Disappointed by traditional technologies such as CRM and SFA, SiriusDecisions’ clients have moved forward in three distinct areas: communications measurement, marketing platforms and customized sales communications.

Still, many organizations continue to hope that the implementation of these technologies will solve their sales and marketing-integration issues – only to find that their functionality is limited due to a lack of shared vision and co--operation from either sales or marketing.

Operations isn’t just for number-crunchers any more. Progressive sales organizations have shifted the focus of sales operations to that of sales effectiveness, including the oversight of tasks such as sales training and development, sales programs (centralized briefings, demos, proposals), and sales technologies (CRM, SFA, etc.).

On the marketing side, operations is being used to standardize processes to facilitate successful marketing decentralization, create joint metrics with sales and drive synergies in programs and communications between product lines. Organizations that continue to view operations as only an administrative function will find that these other tasks will remain unstructured and underused, forcing reps and marketers alike to solve their own problems ad-hoc.

See the full article here.

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