Why Reshaping the Sales Force Boosts the Bottom Line

Insights from Mike Moorman, Ty Curry and Erik Long

MIKE MOORMAN: Sales and marketing are arguably two of the most complex functions in any business. And yet we continue to see many sales leaders fall into the trap of over-relying on incentive compensation and training to try to maximize the effectiveness of their selling organization.

TY CURRY: The way that customers buy is evolving; the amount of information that customers have is evolving; the competitive nature within many markets is much more intense than it used to be. And ultimately what’s happening is we’re seeing a lot of companies out there that are just struggling to get the organic growth that they are used to seeing, and that their shareholders are expecting from them.

MIKE MOORMAN: One of the important insights that we’ve arrived at is there are approximately 35 drivers of sales effectiveness. Training and incentives are two of those, but there are many more. Drivers such as the structure of the sales force, the size, the territories, the coaching models, and the list goes on and on.

We really approach the work as a three-step process. The first step in that process is to really try to understand what are the key growth opportunities, both in size but also in attractiveness to the company, and what are our capabilities relative to those growth opportunities.

Once we’ve identified the key growth opportunities and evaluated the capabilities of the company, the next step then is to address any strategy issues that we think might be priorities. And I’m really talking about Go-To-Market strategy elements here—things such as segmentation, such as value proposition strategies, such as sales force structure, and such as sales processes. The reason for starting there is that if any of these elements require transformation, we need to address those before moving on to the operational elements.

The third step of our process really then is to address the operational issues. And the operational issues would be things such as our sales resource sizing and deployment, our hiring and capability-building processes, our motivation systems, and the various tools that we might provide to the sales force. And by addressing those, we’re then building the underlying capability to be able to fully execute the strategies that we’ve defined.

ERIK LONG: You have to have a change mindset when you truly want to transform your commercial success. That requires collaboration across both sales and marketing. By starting from the beginning of any project that you’re working on, thinking about what it’s going to impact and how it’s going to impact the sales organization and the marketing organization at the same time, that truly is the way that you can have a distinctive and a compelling Go-To-Market strategy.

MIKE MOORMAN: Sales force transformations are challenging, and they require a lot more than training and sales force incentives. The good news is that they’re feasible. It’s possible. By focusing on the drivers that we’ve been talking about systematically, and by addressing the change management challenges you can be successful.

The prize is significant increase in organic growth, both in terms of revenues and in terms of profitability. And we feel that any organization that’s willing to make the commitment to a systematic transformation can do the same.