And for those of you that haven’t realized that yet – this is a wake-up call and probably the last one before oversleeping…

While many companies try to shake off the drag of a global recession and tough competition, some CEOs are still eager to find growth. The one place they need to look at is in their own sales organizations. CEOs who put sales management at the top of their agenda have captured astonishing growth – outstripping their competitors by 50 to 80 percent in terms of revenue and profitability (Harvard Business Review).

Less successful CEOs only play an active role in driving performance improvements in production, in finance, in product development, in IT-development, but never in sales. That’s a big mistake!

CEOs at the best companies are willing to roll up their sleeves and attack the details, to transform their sales organization. It’s not enough to set budgets and goals. The best CEOs call on their management toolkit to transform sales into a “growth engine” by focusing on three actions in particular:

1. Sharpen the analytics
When it comes to selling, even hard-nosed executives believe that sales is an art, and that artists do their best work when left alone, while winning CEOs demand analytics from their sales organization (as they do from operations and production) in order to understand everything from the effectiveness of sales campaigns to the size of the sales force. CEOs need to push this as “Sales is a science”-approach, by demanding analyses and then holding their leaders accountable for delivering on them.

2. Build a lean selling machine
Most CEOs don’t want changes in how their sales forces operate, in fear of killing the golden goose. But cutting costs does not mean cutting revenues. In manufacturing, Lean (explanation below) both cuts costs and increases effectiveness. The same thinking applies to sales. Optimizing sales operations will always improve the revenue.

Start with removing waste from the front-line so your reps can do what they’re supposed to do – sell. That means getting sales leaders to develop a comprehensive assessment of current operations, and based on that insight they are capable to design the back-office routines.

3. Make sales a team sport
Sales organizations can’t create growth on their own. Strategy needs to provide insights about future trends, marketing needs to provide reliable intelligence to identify where to compete, IT needs to provide needed information rapidly, and customer service needs to act like a bridge between the company and its clients.
Only the CEO can push this kind of coordination through!

A major part of these efforts requires raising sales profile within the company. Give your best sales performers broad recognition, make sure that sales has a seat at the table when you’re discussing product strategy, and share sales successes and insights throughout the company.

To build such a new way of working with a new culture and atmosphere you must find opportunities to bring different functions together. This is of outmost importance, as you thereby also create a “we-atmosphere” within the whole organization!

CEOs will always have to make decisions about where to invest their time to build their company. But if they are serious about growth, they need to get serious about sales.

Lean, ISO and Sex Sigma are methods for cutting unnecessary things that have no relevance for the function, with the purpose of saving costs and time.

Sources:
Harvard Business Review, McKinsley consultants and own experiences.

Interested in knowing more about tools and methods?

Contact CEO Mats Lundqvist AGERA Sales!
Cell: +46 70 333 0133
Cell: +55 21 8156 8416
E-mail: mats.lundqvist@agerasales.com