Your Sales Activities: What Do They Say About Your Sales Organisation?

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The five dimensions of a successful sales organisation

So far we have discussed two of the five dimension of sales organisation success as defined by Zoltners et al. As a reminder, their five are: company results, customer results, activities, salespeople and sales effectiveness drivers. Today we will quickly look at “activities.”

CEOs and Sales Managers alike are always concerned about what their salespeople are doing. And why not? For as Bearden, Ingram, LaForge (2001, p445) remind, “Because salespeople are often the most direct link between a firm and its customers, they can heavily influence whether or not the firm succeeds.”

Ideal sales activities?

Returning to Zoltners et al, they claim that a successful sales organisation allocates its time effectively and ensures that every activity delivers high value including:

  • Products that have strategic importance get appropriate attention
  • The sales force serves our best customers well
  • We participate in new business activities, balancing hunting and farming
  • We spend a lot of time with our customers and keep administrative work to a minimum
  • The quality of our activity is as important as the quantity

My own experience is that this impressive set of activities is too often only a wish list, for this is rarely what happens in real world.

What actually happens

We all know salespeople that are wayward. Doing their own thing. Not caring much about what their managers (or customers) want as long as they are meeting overall revenue targets. And they’ve got the excuses to prove it. The consequences can be dangerous for their firm, for the purpose of salespeople can no longer be so narrowly defined. And I won’t mention activities like knocking on the wrong doors, wasting time, etc., etc. for your list may well be longer than mine. And can you imagine what some customers think of their sales organisation?

Would you encourage this activity?

But how about the sales manager I met recently who insists that his reps report to office every morning before getting in the hunt, well knowing that some of them will never see some customers until late evening. Is that a sales activity that you would encourage? And what does it say about their sales organisation?

Herman D. Alvaranga is president of the Caribbean School of Sales Management. Shrewd managers call us instead of looking outside the region for world-class sales and marketing consulting and sales force transformation.

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