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How to Tackle Complex Challenges in the Selling System

Simplify Sales Process

When you tackle a complex problem, focus your strategy on getting your arms around on how big the problem is, so you can categorize it, and then break it down into smaller phases. This will allow you and your team to methodically address the challenge over time. Each phase must offer its own distinct and tangible value and be additive in nature. Here is the process for applying this approach; it’s drawn from real-world examples of how Orchestrators are driving incremental value today within their own organizations.

1. Visualize The Problem

The first step is to begin building an inventory of all the various sales support resources and initiatives and grouping them into the sales optimization practices categories. Start in your department, go on to the various sales portals, interview other groups, and you will be surprised at how quickly your spreadsheet gets unruly. The key objective here is to actually help communicate to all of the department heads of the various random acts about what the problem is and to help executive management actually see how many different resources are all vying for the attention of the sales force (see Figure 12).

Regardless of the department you speak with, you are going to find people who see part of the problem, but very few executives see the full scope and scale of the issue of “random acts of sales support”. Senior executives tend to overlook the challenge that salespeople face in connecting the dots to use all of these materials, while individual department heads see the world through their respective lenses. For example, one VP of product marketing was frustrated about why people were not using the huge array of super tools his team had developed for sales. When presented with the findings, he went from “What’s wrong with the sales force?” to “Oh, my goodness, what can I do to help?”

2.   Eliminate Redundancy

After gaining a shared understanding among various department leaders about the enormity of the problem and the urgency of the need to begin reducing the number of sales support resources and applying some order to them, you should post a quick win. Across so many different groups, with such poor structure — and virtually no governance — you are bound to come across a significant number of resources that are duplicative in scope and purpose; this is a common problem.

Capability or solution presentations are created by product teams, marketing groups, and sales teams so often that it’s not unusual to have many different versions of the same presentation floating around the organization. Another common example is for sales teams and marketing groups to conduct their own win/loss analyses with different design points. It’s typical for both groups to present different results.

The point is that, by finding these redundancies, you can raise the issue to the appropriate management chain and eliminate redundant or unneeded projects. You should be able to cut about 10% to 15% of the initiatives with almost no pain.

3.   Consolidate Related Programs

Provided that the cost reductions and wins gained in phase two were successfully communicated to the right people (refer to the communication leadership discipline), Orchestrators can then begin to examine the remaining initiatives in order to consolidate work efforts. By combining several efforts into one larger project, you can actually pool the various budgets into one larger source while reducing the overall spend. This improves the quality of output and forces more structure across other touchpoints to sales.

Good examples of this are all of the various discrete support tools, many lacking a common design point, that get created for salespeople. Salespeople have to use these resources at different points in their selling cycle and for different reasons, like getting a meeting or supporting a business case.

However, the output of these investments tends to be of the form of the deliverable, with a look and feel or other design point focused on how a salesperson will actually use it. By combining all of these initiatives and deliverables into one project, sales enablement professionals can pool the budgets of battle cards, competitive intelligence, or other programs into one effort that benefits from more available funds at less aggregate cost. In addition, the usefulness of these related work projects to salespeople increases because they are now all related, organized, and cross-referenced to one another. Some of our clients are even bypassing the whole idea of supplying organized kits of sales support resources in favor of developing a suite of client-facing materials that helps further drive adoption.

 4. Coordinate Resources Across Silos And Practices

With fewer initiatives managed by more-senior people, Orchestrators can begin mapping all of the other activities that go into making each project successful and identifying ways to improve the impact on the sales efficiency of a given project of the program.

Continuing the example about better packing and organizing a suite of related efforts to be more useful to sales, the key question is how to weave that program into the bloodstream of the sales organization to accelerate the usage and return on investment. This is where process mapping is useful.

To reinforce the selling strategy and new sales methodology, the content program must clearly reinforce the objectives and principles laid out by both. Wins and use cases from other salespeople leveraging the program will need to be reinforced in the sales communication program, while details and content are infused in the training curriculum.

The materials need to be accessible to salespeople, so there must be a tight integration with any sales knowledge management efforts — and working with training professionals to develop just-in-time coaching vignettes (such as how to talk to a CIO about this content) that can be delivered through learning systems is key. As part of that effort, simulated selling programs might be developed to help salespeople actually use the client-facing tools in the most effective way and to reinforce the detailed client engagement models developed by sales operations or consulting groups. Finally, the right measurement strategy needs to be developed, one that is consistent with how the sales force analyzes the pipeline. These are just a few of the integration points required to optimize the value of any program and are essential to anchor and systematize any sales enablement effort.

5. Orchestrate Cross-Functional Resources To Deliver Sales Enablement Services

After process modeling and measuring a few projects end-to-end, sales enablement professionals can begin to define a catalog of tailored services designed to provide cost-effective support services to meet a given strategic sales objective.

For example, a named account sales channel might be behind in its pipeline development. With some simple analysis, the sales enablement team can quickly isolate the problem and provision a turnkey program that collects data about a targeted list of clients, develops messaging in partnership with the sales team creates account-specific microsites, and partners with those sales teams to deliver those sites to executives within those accounts. The team will also be creating an internal just-in-time training site to provide salespeople with the skills and context they require in order to follow up on those opportunities, as well as a complete dashboard of metrics to monitor success — all within a month.

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