Could Jordan Belfort Have Been Right?…And Other Uncomfortable Sales Management Realities

Could Jordan Belfort Have Been Right?…And Other Uncomfortable Sales Management Realities

In “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the protagonist runs a classic, boiler-room sales floor. Take away the questionable morals and illegal trades, and we’re left with a valid B2B sales management lesson: the power of managing to a proven standard of selling activity. “The telephone is dead. Long live phone-based selling!” The reality of many modern sales organizations is that, while cold-calling has clearly been subjugated by contemporary omni-channel marketing and selling technologies, these very same integrated communications strategies represent new and innovative ways to incorporate phone activities into successful business development results. The difference between 20th century “dialing for dollars” and today’s complex sales cadences, however, lies in new analytics-driven capabilities to capture, measure, and coach sales professionals with real-time, field-friendly, tools. Swinging the Sales Oversight Pendulum Back to Neutral Once upon a time, the telephone was the best and only sales tool for developing both B2B and higher-end business-to-consumer (B2C – think financial services, insurance) pipeline opportunities. The most successful companies deployed huge, centralized sales floors with almost factory-style efficiencies.  These environments allowed for extremely hands-on management interactions that often allowed supervisors to “plug in” to silently listen to reps’ conversations; to physically oversee and demand minimum levels of call activity; and to provide instant feedback around best practices and sales tactics. While in-your-face floors such as those in “The Wolf of Wall Street” lay on the more extreme end of the intensity spectrum, these “old days” provided clarity and visibility that enabled sales leaders to quickly detour reps away from poor practices, and coach them toward activities that were proven to drive desired results. With the...
Measure Twice, Hire Once: Why You Need to Assess New Sales Reps

Measure Twice, Hire Once: Why You Need to Assess New Sales Reps

Hiring a new sales rep?  Most companies still rely heavily on inferences (“His recommendations didn’t turn up any red flag”), assumptions (“She’s made quota in most of her years”), and emotion (“I had a good feeling about her during our interview”) when determining the potential fit for their quota-carriers. Indeed, only a quarter of companies use assessment tools to match sellers’ skills to the roles they are to occupy. Those who take such a data-driven approach, however, end up in much stronger positions. Aberdeen’s recent research around sales education, Once is Not Enough: Why Sales Training Reinforcement is a Must-Have (May 2015), included an opportunity for the 260 survey respondents to indicate whether they “Use assessment / measurement tools to match sales personnel to the most appropriate selling role (hunter, farmer, inside, etc.).” Their responses indicated that 42% of Best-in-Class companies, 27% of Industry Average firms, and 15% of Laggards deploy such solutions, firmly validating a correlation between high-end sales performance results and the use of assessments. So, how are elite firms leveraging their sales talent management tools more effectively than under-performers? Assessment Deployments = Quota Strength Let’s start the analysis by segmenting those companies which reported existing sales assessment deployments from those with no such solution in place. As we see in Figure 1, all three current, quota-oriented sales metrics that Aberdeen collects showcase achievements that would make any SVP of Sales happy. Figure I: The Numbers Tell the Story: Quota-Busting Made Easier via Sales Assessment Solutions Naturally, this should not be taken to mean that double-digit improvements in all of these sales KPIs will immediately accrue for end-user organizations upon buying an...
Beyond the Commission: Will You Stay Ahead of the SPM Maturity Curve?

Beyond the Commission: Will You Stay Ahead of the SPM Maturity Curve?

“Pay-for-play” is an unacceptable practice in many areas of modern enterprise business activities, but the need to motivate the desired behavior of B2B sales professionals means fully embracing the concept. If you’re reading this, you are likely paying out some form of base-plus-commission to your quota-carrying reps or channel partners.  But are you deriving the maximum business value from a holistic Sales Performance Management approach toward your incentive-oriented people, processes, and technologies? In many companies today, the management of their salespeople remains an independent process held away from the purview of the core Human Resources function.  Traditionally seen as “those cowboys over in Sales,” sellers are naturally different from most other corporate job roles and employee personas.  Fairly or not, they’ve often earned a reputation as mavericks allowed to operate outside of behavioral norms; they hold more of the fate of the company’s s fortune in their hands than any other line of business; and their compensation leans far more heavily toward base-plus totals in their W-2. Still, Aberdeen’s current Sales Performance Management research consistently validates the necessity to adopt a more sustainable and mature approach to running a successful sales organization.  Many of the foundational elements of Aberdeen’s Human Capital Management research practice – deploying best practices in onboarding and talent management and adopting a more analytics-driven approach to the entire employee lifecycle – bear analysis within this Research Report.  Here we will learn not only how the most successful sales enterprises deploy and support the automation of traditional incentive compensation management (ICM), territory, and quota solutions, but also what leading-edge trends and new technologies they are adopting to ensure...
You Win Some, You Lose Some: How Best-in-Class Sales Leaders Learn as They Go

You Win Some, You Lose Some: How Best-in-Class Sales Leaders Learn as They Go

A refined sense of self-awareness or personal reflection is not traditionally associated with the kind of personas attracted to, and successful in, the B2B selling arena. While contemporary sales leaders and individual contributors are far more sophisticated than their predecessors in terms of technological savvy and social media awareness, a pervasive sense of confidence and “I’ve got this” control is still a mindset commonly associated with this job role. A new report explores the ways the most effective professional sales organizations engage in win-loss analysis activities in order to take a more humble path toward success. Performance is Everything in Sales Aberdeen’s recent research conducted for Beyond the Quota: Best-in-Class Deployments of Sales Performance Management showcases a set of 245 survey respondents indicating a 42% adoption rate of the process capability, “Frequent win-loss analysis conducted on deals.” In Table 1, we see a dramatic array of sales performance management (SPM) key performance indicators (KPI’s), ranging from current metrics and time-saving costs, to annualized corporate improvements in which these adopters achieve better business results. Table 1: Win-Loss Analysis Users Report Superior Sales Results When we break down the ways different Aberdeen maturity classes adopt this core competency, the deployment rates also favor the use of win-loss: Best-in-Class companies report 52% popularity, compared to 42% among Industry Average, and 34% of Laggard companies. These direct correlations represent a clear nomination of win-loss analysis as its own “win” for sales leaders and sales operations practitioners. Let’s now examine four major business competencies Aberdeen associates with Sales Effectiveness best practices. Win-Loss Analysis: Smarter Capabilities for Business Process and Knowledge Management Aberdeen’s PACE methodology includes four flavors of...
Gamification in B2B Sales: Is it Time? Part II

Gamification in B2B Sales: Is it Time? Part II

Part I of this series demonstrated the ways Best-in-Class companies lead under-performing firms in the adoption of various game mechanics practices, as well as in the utilization of externally provided gamification technologies and solutions. In the context of supporting Sales Effectiveness, the most successful sales teams indicate to Aberdeen that game mechanics measurably impact their ability to meet, and beat, sales quota numbers at a higher rate than Industry Average or Laggard companies – Figure 1. Figure 1: Best-in-Class Sales Teams Value Game Mechanics                  To validate our research on the use of game mechanics, we’ve analyzed the performance and behavior of companies currently deploying such programs and processes. We will employ this approach for the remainder of this report, and begin with data presented in Figure 2. Here, we examine the year-over-year change in various sales effectiveness key performance indicators (KPIs) among users and non-adopters of game mechanics. While both cohorts show improvement on an annual basis – always a good sign – companies actively using contests, game mechanics or gamification technology solutions out-perform non-users across the board. Figure 2: Year-over-year Performance Results Support Game Mechanics Utilization                 All of these metrics are attractive attributes of high-performing sales teams; growing revenue on a company-wide basis, and improving the number of dollars associated with headcount, represent KPIs that would warm any CFO’s heart. Expanding the average deal size, and the overall sales “batting average,” represent efficiencies that also cast a warm glow on sales leadership. How do Game Mechanics Fit into SPM? The source data...
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