15 Nov What Really Slows Down Enterprise Sales – And How to Improve It
Let’s assume for a minute that as VP Sales you’ve been given very aggressive selling targets by the new CEO. You know that if you don’t hit your new enterprise sales targets, you’re not going to get that promotion an in fact you could be out of a job.
According to every consultant you talk to the way to increase enterprise sales revenue is to either increase headcount or improve sales productivity. Industry studies support this fairly consistently.
Increasing headcount is not an option – the new CEO has put headcount on hold – so your best option is to increase sales team productivity. You suspect your reps are pretty close to industry standard and spend only 32% of their time selling – so there’s lots of room for improvement.
Most of the sales productivity studies, as shown in the table below, point to training, incentives, coverage model changes and CRM investments. The price tag for all of this? Over $20,000 per sales rep.
Enteprise Sales Productivity Initiatives Are Only Half the Solution
You fight for budget and implement the programs. As a result, your enterprise sales reps and management are experienced and well trained in your product and service offerings. Sales and partners use your CRM expertly and you know exactly what’s in the pipeline.
Your sales organization has no issues overcoming competition and pricing obstacles. Your marketing department gives your reps all the collateral they need to sell. This includes custom proposals, customer needs research and access to extensive databases for background information.
Yet, not only are sales not skyrocketing, the competition is gaining ground. Your attrition rates are up and you’re losing your best talent every year. The reason, especially for enterprise complex sales, is that getting the customer to “yes” is only half the battle. The real productivity losses come from the burden of administrative details that bury enterprise account managers during a significant sales pursuit
Joe – The Super Star Account Manager
Meet Joe. He’s one of your top enterprise sales reps. He’s at the top of his game and has recently been promoted to manage several key global accounts. He always goes to the President’s Club for sales overachievers. He’s an expert at identifying business needs and putting together solutions that customers want to buy. He’s got years of top line sales experience, can overcome competition, pricing and other objections to move the sale forward. His company’s marketing department supports him fully so he has the information he needs to sell solutions. In fact, everything the studies tell us that could slow down his productivity doesn’t apply here.
JOE’S PRODUCTIVITY IS AT A DEAD CRAWL
Yet Joe’s productivity has slowed to a snail’s pace. He’s working on the largest sale of his career – a complex $300M global video conferencing implementation involving products, services, legal, procurement, advanced technologies and partners. The customer is excited about the solution, definitely wants to roll it out globally and all Joe needs to do is put the services and products together, price it and the deal is done.
Joe is focused on the huge payday from this sale. He’ll easily exceed his quota. But Joe is also spending all of his waking hours chasing people to get all moving parts organized to put the final solution together. There are at least 20 people involved in various aspects of the deal – from advanced product technology engineers to networking specialists to pricing to legal.
Joe is Completely Submerged in Sale Details
Meeting after meeting, and countless phone calls, Joe is spending almost no time with his key customer contact because he’s spending it all trying to chase action items and logistics to put the sale together. He’s got a great team of system engineers, field sales administrators, technical support and product sales specialists, but it is up to him as part of the sales process to pull all this together.
And it gets worse. Because Joe is submerged in putting this sale together, he barely communicates his other major accounts. They have been almost shut out entirely. They spend big bucks with the company and are excited to talk about upgrades and expanding to new technologies.
Administrative details can bury account managers during a sale.
They call you, the VP sales, about the lack of attention. They are used to being pampered and attended to and they haven’t seen their rep for three months. HR sits Joe down and tells him his performance has to get better. You personally spend time with these accounts to try to mend some bridges.
Joe sees his bonuses and top level status disappearing. Dispirited, stressed out and exhausted from 90 hours a week, Joe has gone to a top performer to someone who is not likely going to make the grade. He starts looking for another job. He’s one of many this year, all top performers, who are likely to leave, even though every enterprise sales productivity solution conceivable has been implemented.
The Solution – Free Up Sales Time with Virtual Project Support
Joe is buried in administrative sales logistics. This key issue, which is rarely identified in sales productivity reports, was reported in a McKinsey study that studied highly paid reps spending the majority of their time supporting their own sales efforts. McKinsey reported that solving this problem can take up to two years to implement. It requires time consuming and expensive changes to internal processes, performance management systems and considerable staffing increases.
There’s an easier solution with very fast results. Run the sale like a project.
There’s an easier solution with very fast results. Run each enterprise sale like a project. Our sales productivity professionals have solved situations like this in hundreds of major sales pursuits. With specially trained virtual sales project managers who are well versed in complex sales, CRM reporting and sales tools, a project professional can typically offload an account manager’s administrative burden in less than 3 weeks.
Project managers know how to keep teams accountable and managing to a deadline, which is exactly what a large sale requires.
It doesn’t require a full time resource. After the initial hand off meetings, a trained sales project manager can usually manage a global complex enterprise sales deal in less than 10 hours a week.
For someone like Joe, it means closing the sale faster, with less stress. It also means he can focus on his other accounts and prevent competitive inroads. Rather than leaving the company dispirited, Joe goes to the President’s Club.
You, as VP go from looking for a new job to looking forward to your next promotion.
In my next article I go into exactly how this process works and how to implement it.