How Sam Scaled His Sales Force Rapidly

August 21, 2012 at 7:00 AM

As a Sales Leader of a growing organization, do you struggle to scale your sales force?  Do you wonder to yourself, “why is it so hard to get salespeople to execute consistently? It’s just common sense!”

The board and CEO expect you to create a sales force capable of growing to match market demand, with no drop off in quality. Yet, as expectations continue to escalate, so do the demands on your time.  Plus, each new sales rep you hire seems to take longer and longer to reach their goal and have more difficulty making the sale. Why?  Entering a new organization without a proper process in place is a trial and error learning experience.

 

Sam Curve

 

There is one proven way to get the performance that you need from your sales force-- create a customized sales process that promotes ‘A’ player rep behaviors to be adopted by others. A light-weight sales process tied to future customers’ buying behaviors will allow you to transfer your sales knowledge and expertise to whole team and allow them to execute in a repeatable fashion Below is a real life story on how Sam (Sales Leader) used sales process to scale his organization.

Obtain the guide to implementing a World Class sales process by clicking here. The guide will assist you in designing and implementing a best in class sales process before 2013


Sam – Sales Process StorySam

I was recently working with a $43 million organization that had 10 total reps: 3 star reps, 5 average reps and 2 new reps.  The categories were defined by Sam, the Sales Leader. Sam described how the average reps and struggling reps looked at the stars with awe, and talked about them like mythical creatures. I asked Sam what their secret to success was. He explained that the three star reps just do the same thing over and over again. When I asked what the “same thing” entailed, Sam couldn’t explain it to me. Sam then went on to tell me how he could kill his number and hit all the goals set out by the board if he could just find more star reps. I agreed that talent is a big piece of the puzzle, but also asked what if you could just spread the “same thing” to his other 7 reps? The conversation then led into Sam’s five year plan and how he plans to scale.

Sam explained that he plans to add reps consistently over the next five years and is concerned that the ramp time for a new hire is 18+ months. We discussed the total number of reps Sam will have under him in five years and agreed that 24 was a realistic number. I asked, “What happens to your quota achievement when you have 24”? Below is an illustration of what we mapped out during a short white board session.

 

 Process Impact

This illustration assumes that the quota per head will stay the same.  This gap between current state and post-ramp would be much larger in reality.  At that time, Sam was making the number and riding the coat tails of his 3 stars. You cannot be reliant on a few top reps when scaling.  We discussed how the results of the top 3 will soon be diluted by new hires who are ramping. I asked Sam, “Although new hires take two years to ramp, do you get quota relief for two years”? He blurted out, “of course not, because they are on the books day one.” Sam and I wrote out some future consequences of not having a consistent process to rely on while he scales the sales force.

  1. Reliance on the heroic efforts of a few to hit the number
  2. You won’t have a good pulse on which deals are real and which are wishful thinking – using coaching tools that are focused on how the buyer is moving through the process acts as a great deal filter
  3. Your forecasts will not be accurate – sales reps will be relying on instincts vs. historical statistics
  4. The end of the quarter and year will always be a fire drill
  5. Your reps will rely on you to sell complex deals vs. acquiring the necessary capabilities
  6. New Reps will have to learn through trial by fire and skin their knee more often than necessary.  This can increase both turnover and ramp time
  7. You won’t make your number

Sam’s Evaluation Criteria:

Sam and I agreed that transferring the knowledge of his top reps to the rest of the team and new hires is a top priority. Sam’s next statement was, “Ok, but I don’t know where to start.”  Below is a summary of our conversation.

After Sam and I discussed what might go into a Sales Process, we wrote out a list of the most important evaluation criteria when mapping out how to execute the plan.

  1. Speed – Sam wanted to start now and implement before he hired more folks
  2. Experience – Sam wanted help from someone who had built and implemented similar processes
  3. Customization – Sam felt the process would be rejected by the current team if it didn’t feel home grown
  4. Stickiness – Sam wanted it to be adopted and used on every sales call
  5. Change Management Implications – Sam wanted to ensure his team was a part of the solution and would be involved in testing and improving the process

Building a Process

After we discussed Sam’s requirements we dug into the process of bringing his sales process to life.  Here are the components of a best in class sales process Sam and I discussed.

Sales Process Adoption Formula: Customer Voice + Internal Best practices + World Class best practices + Leadership Reinforcement = Process Adoption & Results

  • Customer Voice – The process has to align to your customer’s buying process.  This involves gaining a deep understanding of how customer segments make purchasing decisions. 
  • Internal Best Practices – Make it feel homegrown. This is a combination of best practices you as a Sales Leader use when in the field and the process A player Reps execute.
  • World Class Best Practices – Incorporate best in class sales organization ideas. Perform Win/Loss reviews to ask your customers what the competition did better than your organization to win deals that you lost. These are best performed by an unbiased party (either 3rd party or someone internally that isn’t directly connected to the deal).
  • Leadership Reinforcement– The process will not be adopted if you don’t coach to and reinforce it. Tools should be created to help leaders coach to the process both virtually and during face-to-face interactions
  • Adoption – It doesn’t matter how good the process is if nobody uses it. Driving adoption is the key to success.
  • Results – Three key metrics 1) Win Rate 2) Average Sales Price 3) Sales Cycle Velocity

Results

6 months post implementation Sam has a sales process that was constructed, tested, and adopted by his team. Better yet, he has the results to prove it. Sam’s closing ratio has improved from 16% to 21%. Average Sales Price jumped from $66,000 to $83,000 and the sales cycle time has dropped by 3 weeks. Sam is 17% ahead of his number YTD and on pace to have his best year.

Have you experienced similar results by rolling out a customized Sales Process?  Please share your ideas on how to ensure a successful implementation.

Scott Gruher

Topics: Sales Process, Sales Leader, Small Company Sales Leader Resources

Posted by Scott Gruher

Scott Gruher
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