Sales force effectiveness (SFE) is not a new concept; in fact, this idea has been around for ages, but organizations never paid any attention to it. Earlier, businesses followed a traditional sales process that entailed face-to-face meetings and repeated interactions with physicians and doctors. The traditional sales model made new customer acquisition a costly affair because the sales representatives had to entice them by spending money on lunches and dinners. Organizations often viewed the sales function as a cost burden that lacked any sales force effectiveness. However, today, companies have realized that the key ingredient to drive sales and boost profitability lies in the hands of their workforce, thereby taking steps to improve their sales force effectiveness.
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Past Imperfect – What Did Sales Force Do Back Then?
In the past, organizations have pushed their sales representatives to over-achieve their targets with a view of profit maximization. There was no concept of measuring the sales force effectiveness, devising incentive plans to motivate the workforce and develop training support programs to help them upgrade their skills. Without a proper SFE strategy in place, the sales representatives pushed their products to customers at high prices without understanding the latter’s needs. Back then, the level of awareness among customers was low owing to insufficient sources of procuring information, one of them being the sales representatives themselves. It led the external stakeholders to develop a feeling of distrust towards the sales reps and the company itself, making them feel exploited.
At the organizational front, they used several performance measurement metrics that were used to determine the effectiveness of the sales force. This traditional practice resulted in a low level of efficiency and even lower sales force effectiveness. The organization often questioned the performance of the sales team, thereby terming the sales and marketing function as unnecessary and irrelevant.
Present Scenario – Improving Sales Force Effectiveness
With rising customer awareness levels, technological advances, and shorter buying cycle from the consumer’s end, the sales representatives cannot blindly follow the traditional sales model that entailed activities right from prospecting to closing the deal. Improving sales force effectiveness helps measure the performance of the sales function and devise strategies to enhance them. Sales effectiveness can be brought around to the organization by developing new incentive and compensation plans, determining achievable targets for the sales reps, providing them with the required market information, and training them to cross-sell and up-sell to their clients. Quantzig’s interactive dashboards have played a crucial role in enhancing the decision-making process, by enabling business leaders to slice and dice their sales data to extract valuable insights.
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The organization must enable the sales force to identify customer needs, thereby finding new ways to improve their business. Building an efficient organizational workforce means shifting the focus from price and profits to addressing the challenges faces by the customers, thus creating a win-win situation for both parties. To redefine sales processes to improve their sales force effectiveness, organizations must:
- Enable their sales representatives to identify the challenges the customers face and develop solutions around it. The organization can achieve this by providing knowledge and information about the market.
- Simplify the sales process to make it easy to understand and execute. The organization should arrange training and development programs to enhance the skills of sales professionals.
- The management should follow one rule: If you promise to deliver value to the customer, stick to it. It builds trust and ensures a long-term association between the two parties and retains the consumers with the organization.
The customer’s unique decision-making process and their ever-changing buying behavior have coerced the organizations to adapt to these changes, thereby ensuring value creation for all the stakeholders. The businesses have realized that to survive as well as thrive in the market, they must devise strategies to improve the sales force effectiveness.