Posted by: drewdice | January 24, 2012

Driving Sales Force Transformation

Manage a process.
Enable your people.

Too often, I hear sales leaders talking about managing sales representatives, how they prospect, how the present, how they overcome objections, how they spend their time. It is as if managing people is a non stop, all the time effort. I often wonder how some sales leaders actually find time for strategic thinking and action, let alone helping reps get more effective at selling.

One big gap lies in the traditional approach to sales ‘training’: while many organizations spend time on some type(s) of analysis to uncover key skills, competencies and attributes of top sales representatives (with the aim of emulating those things and hiring people who have the same traits), the key insights the organization lacked were the actual Major Accomplishments that top sales representatives actually produced.

The impacts of this lack of transparency?

– wasted time coaching without results
– wasted time pulling reps out of the field for misplaced and misdirected training interventions
– unnecessary extra processes and procedures designed to ‘manage’ reps to producing better results (without clarity of what ‘better should actually look like’

The point is this: If sales leaders desire a top performing sales force (not just the standard 20% of the sales team), leaders need to first understand what success looks like (Strategic Intent and Alignment), identify the critical Major Accomplishments that lead to the defined success, align Business Processes that provide clear and smooth pathways for the reps (and the organization) to execute the Major Accomplishments, and a People Readiness strategy that positively influences the sales reps’ ability to produce the Major Accomplishments with regularity and without unneeded friction.

Manage the Processes.
Enable the People.

Create a high performing sales team.



  1. Nice article. I don’t follow the last paragraph.

    What do the following mean:

    – Leaders need to first understand what success looks like (Strategic Intent and Alignment)

    – Align Business Processes that provide clear and smooth pathways for the reps (and the organization) to execute the Major Accomplishments?

    Thanks for the clarification.

    • Steve,

      Thanks for your thoughtful questions. Let me know if this helps:

      – When working with clients, I often see that there are different definitions of what success looks like for an organization or business unit. As an example, one client had an initiative to develop future commercial leaders – the effort and program had a mission and vision, but the firm was not getting the desired traction or results. After doing some analysis and interviews, we found that, based on who we spoke with (program participants, managers, program sponsors), they all had different definitions of the purpose (intent) of the program. If the leaders are not fully aligned, you can imagine what happens to the front line performers who actually have to do the work. In sales, it is very much the same – is the goal to gain market share? sell highly profitable deals? build long term relationships? retain customers? bring in net new customers? While an easy answer may be “yes” to all, that will likely bring a lack of clarity to the field force.

      – With regards to business processes, I refer to things like – CRM systems, handoffs between sales and fulfillment, communication, reporting and enablement to and with the field sales force, connection between sales and marketing. Often times, processes are outdated, clunky, not transparent, and there is poor communication among the entire organization in how one person’s role and activity impacts the entire chain.

      I hope this helps – please let me know if you want to chat more – we can grab a call if you want to talk.

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