Sales Diagnostics – one of the company’s core tasks
Sales is a highly demanding task for a company. The sales department is the interface and entrance point to the market and needs to deal with a variety of parameters, many of them being blurry and beyond control of the sales manager. Sales managers need to face an ever changing and highly dynamic market environment, coupled with a growing complexity of customer requirements. Thus, the sales organization needs to be adequately integrated into the whole company and its core processes.
Despite the challenging market conditions, the sales department often finds itself exposed to criticism from many internal stakeholders. The production department complains about the lack of orders to adequately utilize the capacity or the unsuitable mix of orders to reach performance targets, the controlling department points at unsatisfying revenue quality and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, these remarks very often come without proposals on how to improve the situation. On the other hand, it needs to be noted that the sales department itself is sometimes unable to properly address the root causes of the probably justified criticism. Daily business usually gets prioritized – with strong market conditions, incoming orders need to be processed while weak markets require the acquisition of new orders. Hence, there is no time for comprehensive analysis and problem solving. Very often we see trainings in sales negotiation, pricing strategies etc. as the weapon of choice to cope with the perceived underperformance of the sales department. Dealing with symptoms will not heal the underlying issues though. The question that needs to be dealt with is whether the sales department follows the correct targets, is optimally organized and adequately integrated into the company as a whole.
The question is when to address such a complex matter, while sales managers are absorbed by daily sales business and other important tasks. And the answer is easy: the time is now.
Bronk&Company has developed an instrument to measure and improve sales performance. Supported by the Sales Diagnostics Tool, we can identify key levers to improve performance in sales quickly and at manageable cost.
With the help of 10 dimensions, describing the essential structural sales elements, the performance as well as the integration of the sales department into the company are recorded and evaluated: The degree of fulfilling the listed requirements is determined by a structured questionnaire. Our approach combines the self-assessment of the organization with the management’s assessment, is further supplemented by targeted interviews and “on the job” observations by experienced B&C consultants. This results in a holistic assessment of the maturity level of the sales department.
The underlying dimensions of the maturity model represent the enablers for efficient and integrated sales operations. These components can have different intensity levels. While each dimension represents a self-contained, functionable unit within the company, it is typically the integration and interaction of all components guaranteeing the performance of the entire sales organization.
As an example, the interaction of various structural elements is described. The sales strategy forms the backbone of sales. This is where the external view (market opportunities) and the internal view (available, profit-relevant products, production possibilities) come together. However, it is insufficient to just have a strategy which is not translated into concrete actions for the operational unit. Another essential for a successful and profitable sales work is a proper pricing process. This requires all sales employees being aware of and sticking to the process. In addition, the necessary information must be available at the right time. Hence, a targeted controlling process must be installed. The circle closes with innovation management. Practical experience shows that the sales department plays an important role to successfully launch innovative products with marketable properties and competitive cost / price structures.
The results of the assessment of the structural elements and their interaction, i.e. the sales maturity level, must subsequently be fitted into the strategic framework of the company. A “best-in-all-dimensions” will most probably not exist but is likely also not required – it depends on the individual goals of the company. Consequently, the company’s strategy must be operationalized by defining the targets per dimension. On this basis, structural gaps can be identified and translated into an actionable plan which is well-balanced between quick wins and strategic initiatives. Our practical experience clearly indicates that the company’s performance can be significantly increased by improving sales processes.
Dr. Matthias Weber,