How To "Discover" the True State of Your Sales Organization

September 20, 2013 at 7:00 AM

This article is about how to cut through the noise and evaluate your organization.  It focuses on the forms of Discovery you need to get a true picture.  The top sales executive in every organization faces the same problem: spin.  Everyone in your org chart wants you to interpret the results a certain way.  How can you find out what’s really going on?  Learning the truth is critical for your sales strategy.

Sales Organization

At the end of this post, download the Sales Organization Discovery Guide.  It’s an executable guide for you, as SVP of Sales, to evaluate your organization. 

The purpose of Discovery is to gather intelligence about your organization.  Most leaders periodically embark on some kind of “listening tour.”  While educational, there’s a flaw: the leader hears everyone’s own version of the opportunities.  Performing your own Discovery helps you get facts, not opinions. 

There are many forms of Discovery.  Below are 9 you might choose from.  We’ll examine how you can execute three of these on your own.  For details on the complete list of 9, download the Sales Organization Discovery Guide.

  1. Executive Interviews
  2. Customer Interviews
  3. Prospect Interviews
  4. Expert Panel
  5. Sales Rep Survey
  6. Sales Management Survey
  7. Sales Rep DILO (Day In The Life Of)
  8. Mystery Shop
  9. Social Listening
Sales Organization Discovery Guide

Now we’ll look at three in more detail:

Sales Rep DILO (Day In The Life Of)

This is something you are hopefully already doing regularly.  Get in the car with a front line rep.  Spend a full day with them.  Don’t tell them to pack it with great appointments.  Don’t give much direction at all.  Just spend the time.  Observe.  What does the rep do?  Run special deliveries?  Get bogged down in administrative activities?  Drive 2 hours between appointments?  Think about how you can remove non-value-added activities.  Get them more selling time.  Observe them when they are knee to knee with prospective buyers.  Are they using your sales process? 

Expert Panel 

An Expert Panel is a classic focus group.  It’s a select collection of the top performers in the organization.  It is convened by the CSO or the top sales officer.  It includes representatives from sales and marketing.   It may also include Ops people, Product Development, etc.  The key is to think hard about whose POV you want to get.  Skew it heavily towards top performers from the field organization.  Skew away from “corporate” people.  The value individuals bring is directly proportionate to their proximity to the front lines. 

Prospect Interviews 

Our Discovery activity list also mentions customer interviews.  Why interview customers AND prospects?  Because people who’ve bought from you before behave differently than those who never have.  This is also a great way to position yourself for future opportunities.  Focus on 2 buckets:

  • those who you tried to sell who went with a competitor
  • those you’d like to sell who aren’t currently interested (“dream prospects”)

Dream prospects may not want to meet with a sales rep.  However they may respond to a request for a “research call” conducted by you. 

Discovery can become overwhelming.  You could do it all yourself, but you have a business to run.  You might consider engaging an outside organization like ours to help.  Here’s an analogy – do you do your own taxes?  Probably not.  You could, but it’s time consuming and painful.  You probably hire an expert to handle it and produce a result (your return).  Getting help with sales organization Discovery is much the same.  Download and review the complete Sales Organization Discovery Guide.  See the opportunities in your organization for what they really are.

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Topics: sales strategy, Sales Leader, VP of Sales Resources, CSO, Chief Sales Officer, management thinking

Posted by Mark Synek

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