The sales force of an organization is the most effective and efficient communication channel to engage and convert customers. They not only drive growth but are also the largest cost factor for any business. This makes it essential for organizations to have a well-thought strategy to improve sales force effectiveness (SFE) in place. Sales force effectiveness is all about enabling the workforce to prioritize their work, target their efforts towards profitable customers, set targets, and incentivize the sales representatives on successfully achieving the targets. Sales force effectiveness is all about syncing the workforce objectives with that of the organizations’ objectives, keeping them abreast of the latest market trends, gaining access, and building trust with the physicians and doctors.
Improving Sales Force Effectiveness: The Process
An American industrialist was once quoted saying, “Take my factories, burn my buildings, but give me my people and I will build the business right back again”. This shows how imperative the sales force is to the success of any organization. Improving sales force effectiveness results in increased ability to handle pressure situations, promotes training, feedback, and recognition, developing competencies as per the market demands. SFE enables sales representatives to target better, prioritize work, gain access to physicians, and understand the buyer’s needs. Organizations can improve their sales force effectiveness in five steps.
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Step 1: Determining Clear Objectives
When an organization strives to improve its sales force effectiveness, it should begin by determining a set of objectives. These objectives must be communicated clearly to the sales representatives. Along with determining objectives, the senior management can also create a strategy map that aligns the individual objectives of the departments with the overall objectives of the organization. By building a strategy map and linking it with the pre-determined set of objectives, it facilitates communications and performance measurement.
Step 2: Establishing KPIs
When an organization initiates and establishes a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) it creates a way to identify if there is a problem in the process. If a problem exists, it can be solved through insights. It is also known that fewer indicators or KPIs with broad coverage provide wider access e.g. repeat sales are a good way to measure sales force incentives, product ability, and sales representative’s skills. In order to improve sales force effectiveness, management professionals must note that it is impossible to establish KPIs unless you understand and determine objectives and priorities.
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Step 3: Converting Strategic Intent into Actions
It is essential for the managers to transform the strategies into actions and measure them against set KPIs. The sales representatives must create a list of activities and processes that are extremely important to fulfill certain objectives. It is critical for the sales force to identify those activities and processes that do not contribute to successfully achieving objectives. These non-contributing processes must be stopped right away and the resources must be diverted to those activities that will contribute to achieving the overall objectives.
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Step 4: Assigning Accountability
While setting objectives and determining KPIs, the organization must draw a clear line of accountability. You ask why? Simply because how can you expect your sales representatives to meet or exceed expectations until and unless they have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities and their contribution to achieving organizational success. This is possible by using business intelligence, supply market intelligence, scorecards, etc. effectively aligning the organizational strategy to the daily business processes.
Step 5: Measuring Performance
Setting standards but not measuring the actual performance against it is of no use. This requires a set of tasks, processes, and different capabilities and frameworks to measure the performance of sales representatives. In order to improve its sales force effectiveness, organizations must adopt a strategic management process so as to review and track the next step ensuring success.