As we approach 2017, most Sales Managers and VPs of Sales have already started the budget and planning phase. I get asked by sales leaders what, besides the normal stuff, to invest in. The “normal” being travel and entertainment, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), hiring and onboarding, and sales kickoff meetings.
I look at investment within sales groups in this manner:
- People and organization development
- Sales enablement, such as processes and playbooks
- Tools and efficiencies
- Ongoing training and certification
- Dashboards and data
But you probably look at it this way:
- How do I grow?
- How do I shorten the sales cycle?
- How do I ramp up my people better?
- How do I get a better picture of what is really happening?
- How do I improve sales forecasting?
In reality, the two groups match – your questions are answered by investments in the top five points. Let me show you how:
- People and organization development: Focus on continued development and education for yourself and your staff. It’s important to stay sharp and well-informed about new sales strategies and the latest industry trends for smart decision-making and maintaining a competitive edge. Examples of continued education for sales leaders and reps include seminars, webinars, conferences, books, magazine subscriptions, training, coaching, etc.
- Sales enablement, such as processes and playbooks: These types of tools allow sales reps to do their best work. Playbooks and processes outline the How/What/Who: how to get in front of the right people (the who) and what to do to close the sale in a systematic manner. Playbooks and processes allow for consistency, shortened sales cycles, improved forecasting, and better training and onboarding. Invest in these types of enablement tools if you haven't already, or if you do have them, update your existing materials on an ongoing basis to remain current.
- Tools and efficiencies: Invest in sales operations to streamline processes that will allow your company to grow. You may have a sales team all running to the beat of their own drums, or a lack of communication between sales and departments. These are just a few examples of things that hinder growth, and that can be improved with operational improvements. If you already have operational tools in place, check them regularly to make sure they are working well; if not, make the necessary updates and adjustments or look into a new solution.
- Ongoing training and certification: Regular sales team training and certification improves sales rep’s sales skills and product knowledge, enhances customer communication, and provides a competitive advantage. Ongoing training is beneficial for new hires and seasoned sales reps alike, and leads to decreased ramp-up times and a shortened sales cycle.
- Dashboards and data: CRM is the sales organization’s best friend. If you don’t already have a CRM, such as Salesforce.com, with the right dashboards and analytical capabilities, you truly don’t know what’s going on within your sales organization. Many companies have yet to invest in a CRM system or use outdated methods, while others have made the move to a CRM system but major improvements needs to be made, or sales team buy-in has yet to happen. Prioritize CRM to improve your sales forecasting and get a better picture of what’s really going on.
Your 2017 budget will allow you to better plan your year and make improvements that will have a positive impact on the success of your sales team and organization, and lead to company growth. Do you need help developing a 2017 plan and budget? Contact SRi for a complimentary 30-minute consultation for an expert perspective and tips for 2017 success.