What does a “world-class sales organization” look like to you?
I ask this question of business leaders often when I conduct seminars and workshops, and I can almost guarantee the responses.
Those are all right answers. So too is Dave Kurlan’s response, though it’s more complex (Dave is president of David Kurlan & Associates and a principal of The Objective Management Group, of which I’m a certified partner.). Kurlan posts that there are actually 6 components to a world-class sales organization, each with multiple functions that must be tended to by multiple people in multiple departments. Check out his graphic on world-class organizations:
I respect Dave immensely, and he’s 100% right here. These are all the bases you should strive to cover.
But, what if you can’t?
What if, right now, you can’t afford these multiple people to tend to these multiple tasks? What if, right now, all the organization building is upon your shoulders (or you only have a very small team of leaders to help)? What if, right now, you have gaps? Is building a world-class sales organization beyond your reach?
I say no.
Over the last two decades I’ve had the pleasure of working with companies of all sizes in the capacity of sales organization building. And, while I can tell you that building something as huge as Kurlan’s “great” organization takes time, you can make your smaller organization great right now. You just need to focus on 3 things.
Focus your efforts on the following 3 components to make your sales organization world-class right now -- no matter its size.
The biggest mistake plaguing failing sales organizations is hiring the wrong people at the sales management level. It's super easy to blame poor sales numbers on the salespeople in the trenches, but when it happens, leadership at the sales management level is almost always at the heart of the problem. Hiring great salespeople is important, yes. But, it doesn't matter how talented, trained, or hungry your team is if they are being managed by a mediocre boss who doesn’t “coach up”.
Once you have the right people on your team, what are the actions and activities that you expect them to take? How many calls are they going to make to your prospects? How many appointments are needed to identify a qualified opportunity? How will they follow up while continuing to provide value? What other channels are they using to reach out? What are they saying when they talk with prospects or face objections? What problems do you solve for your customers?
The answers to those questions get at your process, and far too many organizations lack a formal one. That’s a huge mistake. The "wing it" method just doesn't work in sales.
Once your process is created, figure out how you are going to formally train and coach your team to implement and execute the process and who is going to hold them accountable. They aren't going to figure it out on their own. Your managers should be the hardest working people in your organization, performing constant coaching and holding the whole team accountable to the process you expect them to follow.
The third area of focus is your culture. Culture does not mean you have donuts in the break room or ping pong tables in the common area. Those things are cool, but they’re not culture. Your culture is defined as the set of rules and values that your organization embodies, established from the very top down.
If, as the CEO, you’re the most disciplined person in the room, the culture of your sales team will follow. If your sales manager is committed to continual self-development, so too will your sales team. If the sales manager holds himself accountable to a high level of achievement and a strong desire to win, so will the culture of the sales team. World-class organizations have leaders who come in early, stay late, and roll up their sleeves to help the team.
There's nothing out-of-reach about finding the right people, building a solid process, and establishing a strong culture. You just have to be willing to do the work and follow the guidance on building an excellent sales force.
The curse of failure in the small business world doesn't have to be your reality.
Reach out to us for further guidance on how to establish your company as a world-class sales organization -- regardless of its size.
Sales management expert Duane Cashin has lead award-winning sales organizations and trained sales teams for companies of all sizes. He’s earned membership in Presidents Club and Circle of Excellence, successfully built and sold his own multi-million-dollar business, and enjoys sharing his passion for sales.