Sales leaders continue to work overtime on enabling their sales force with repetitive maintenance strategies, but don’t spend nearly enough time on executing effectively to grow and scale their sales initiatives. In order to reduce turnover, improve efficiencies, reduce wasteful spending and improve win rates, sales leaders must be aware of their organization’s ability to scale and succeed in growing its selling competency.
My company created a model — the Sales Execution Maturity Model™ — which identifies five levels of an organization’s sales execution maturity relative to business impact. With it, companies can determine their level of maturity and put an action plan into place to achieve the next level.
By moving through the five stages of the Maturity Model — chaotic, defined, optimized, agile and predictive — organizations get the insight and clarity needed to increase their effectiveness and overall success. Identifying the level with which your organization aligns is the first step. The tricky part comes next: successfully move to the next level. Outlined below are tactics organizations can implement to advance upward along the Sales Execution Maturity Model.
As the earliest level of sales execution maturity, organizations are mostly reactive in sales situations and are ad hoc in their support and enablement efforts.
Organizations at this stage have little to no scalability. In order to meet goals, teams rely on heroic efforts and sales reps feel uncertain and uneasy of pipeline forecasts. These ad-hoc efforts, while providing short-term wins, do not allow for the scalability required to achieve any true business impact.
To improve the process at this level, companies should look at creating a high level sales process for sale reps to follow and adapt to their selling situations. This will steer teams away from the reactive model. Rolling out a CRM system, if an organization doesn’t have one, and focusing on defining processes and infrastructure will also help sales teams execute more effectively and adapt to sales’ needs.
As organizations move from chaotic to defined, they have realized the importance of CRM adoption across the entire sales team, as well as the need for some structured process for sales reps to follow. With goals and strategies defined and documented, sales teams are moving toward the same goals in an attempt to execute on the business strategy.
Organizations in the defined level, however, still struggle with communication and experience low adoption among reps. To ensure both the sales process and strategy are reinforced, focus on defining a structured ramp up process and expectation for new reps outside of the onboarding process.
At this stage, sales reps are also spending a lot of time looking for and developing content. As such, look for ways to streamline the accessibility of sales content for reps. Additionally, by offering motivations and resources to increase CRM adoption, sales reps will be able to spend more time selling and less time taking on more administrative tasks.
Organizations are starting to see effective sales execution strategies and activities take place at the optimized level. Sales teams are achieving success, but there is room to succeed faster and more consistently.
At this stage, sales teams are still bogged down with manual, administrative tasks, hindering their ability to sell. By working toward eliminating all administrative and searching tasks, teams can spend more time selling. In that same vein, make sure there is a system in place that updates content regularly. This avoids sales reps pulling old, outdated content only to start all over from the beginning.
To make the sales process adaptable to individual buyers and situations in real time, companies should leverage innovative technologies and infrastructure which help sales reps personalize and tailor content in conjunction with other customer-facing elements. This optimizes the experience for buyers, and results in higher win rates.
Organizations at the optimized level should track what is working and what is not in the sales process, beyond just deal probability and forecasting. Not only will this point a big red arrow at areas for improvement, but it also lays down a good foundation.
Organizations who find themselves at the agile level have teams truly working at maximum efficiency. They are successful in providing an adaptable infrastructure for sales reps to react to buyer needs effectively.
In order move up to the final level — predictive — organizations should make a few additional improvements to their sales model. For example, while in this stage, operations leaders already have analytics to provide real time dashboards into what’s working and not. To supplement these analytics, invest in sales technology that provides early warning indicators of risk within deals. This makes it possible for sale teams to mitigate risk and appropriately plan and shift strategies before an opportunity is lost. Since the sales process is easily adaptable in all selling situations at this level, leaders should look for ways to optimize new rep ramp-up time, so new hires can start contributing to revenue almost immediately.
Organizations at the predictive level have truly balanced the art and science of sales execution through an integrated and dynamic infrastructure, as well as by operationalizing content and process. Customers benefit from truly finding partners in their sales reps and the vendors they represent, where needs are understood and business results are demonstrated. They are often repeat customers, wanting to work with reps that understand their business and needs.
At this level, sales operations leaders serve as strategic advisors to leadership, and have real-time access to dashboards and predictive monitoring systems to manage key performance indicators and mitigate risk. In order to maintain a sales model at this level, organizations should continue to leverage sales and content analytics to identify predictive indicators that drive further sales growth.
Today’s shift in buyer behavior has made the challenge of rising to the levels of productivity and effectiveness to meet revenue goals increasingly difficult. To achieve aggressive goals, sales leaders need to implement practices to reduce turnover, improve efficiencies, reduce wasteful spend and improve win rates. The Sales Execution Maturity Model provides organizations with a structure and path for optimizing sales execution activities and strategies in a consumable way. In order to succeed, organizations need to stop the random acts of sales enablement and provide a clear path for success from strategy to execution.