Get the most out of your sales team

Salespersons are hard to get, difficult to retain, and more so in the tight labor market today with 3.9% unemployment.


Use these resources well. Assigning work at which they will be most effective will deliver higher productivity, greater motivation, and retention.


A salesperson or team specializes in pursuing and winning new business.


Deploy it where that opportunity for a new sale exists, be it with current clients or with prospective ones, leading deals small or large, and independently or with alliance partners.


Pursuit of new clients

A technology services company has sold and delivered well in the USA. Wants to now take the same offerings to Canada. A manufacturer of air conditioners has a 40% share in condominiums and wants to now grow in single family homes. A consumer goods company is a leader in beverages and now adding snack foods to its product lineup.


Wherever there are new clients to be acquired, in a region, market sector, or line of offerings; deploy the sales teams there.


It’s for them to lead the sales cycle. Connecting business trends to potential opportunities, identifying and reaching buyers, contesting competitors, and being in front from contact through contract.


Once a deal is won or client acquired, don’t be in a hurry to pull the sales team out quite yet.


The salesperson has been the ongoing touch point through the sales cycle. Very likely also the person who has the relationships with client stakeholders and history of commitments made.


Have her/him continue to be available till the relationships and client ownership transitions to the fulfilment & delivery teams.


The salesperson can also play an active role if there is new business to be won beyond incremental growth with existing clients. Which brings us to the next point.


Growing existing clients

The services company made a sale with one division of a bank in Canada. The first successes with single family homes were sales of window air conditioners, with the opportunity still to sell central AC’s. Orders for snack foods won with a large grocery chain, but for an initial trial.


There is still an opportunity to win and grow business.


Sales teams, as well as those engaged in delivery of sales made, can play an active role in growing this business.


Sales teams specialize in discovering, pursuing and winning new business opportunities. Have them focus on areas with existing clients where the share of wallet is low.


Being in regular touch with existing buyers, teams delivering current engagements are more likely to get insight into budgets and new opportunities with them. Use these delivery teams to complement sales effort by growing business around where the current work is being done.


In addition, they can source new leads for the sales team to pursue by soliciting referrals from the current buyers(s) into other groups which could have interest in similar or related services.


Stewarding large deals

Most parents can take care of minor ailments in their children. When it becomes a bigger issue, they may need to get specialized attention from medical professionals. The child however is still the responsibility of the parents.

The pursuit of large, complex deals is similar.


Since the $ value and complexity of these deals is high, the decision cycles tend to be longer, and the resources needed to pursue them higher. Specialists from product/services management, finance, human resources, and alliances can be required as part of the pursuit team.


Notwithstanding the size of a deal, it’s still a new business pursuit and there has to be one owner who takes responsibility and ownership of the pursuit. That is the salesperson.


She / he was most likely involved in the process which led to the RFP and will carry ownership of the outcome. Hence needs to own and lead the pursuit, be the single point of contact with the prospective client, and for the team assembled to craft and pursue the deal.


It happens sometimes that the salesperson may be more suited to lead smaller deals and at sea when a larger, more complex one is to be pursued. In these situations, the buck needs to move up the supervisory chain to whoever in the hierarchy is best fit to lead. The ownership of the deal still stays with the sales team, it only moves up to the right pursuit leader.


Selling with alliances & partners

The job of building alliances and sustaining them lies with technology practices, business development, and alliance teams.


With some alliance partners, opportunities may also exist to craft, pursue and sell deals together.


In these situations, the sales teams from the partners should get involved through the lifecycle of a sale. Relationships need to be built, as do joint pursuit plans, and then co-working through the sale.


With some alliance partners, these co-sell opportunities may occur at a higher frequency. When this is the case, the engagement between the sales teams will extend to activities upstream of a specific deal pursuit. The sales teams of the alliance partners will need to see themselves as one, working on joint go to market plans, prospecting, and then the pursuit and outcome of individual deals.


Where not to deploy a sales resource


A salesperson is a new business acquisition specialist.


Wherever there is limited new business to be won, it’s not the place to be investing sales effort.


If there is limited scope of winning new clients in a region, move the sales resources to a higher potential geography,


Similarly, where the share of wallet is high with an existing client, or limited opportunities exist outside existing engagements, the delivery/customer success managers can be tasked to pursue incremental business.


Have technology practice or business development teams engage and nourish relationships with alliance partners, advisors, and analysts. Bring the sales teams in when there is a clear path to and visibility of new business to be won.


In closing

Salespersons are new business acquisition specialists.


They specialize in identifying, pursuing and winning (often losing) opportunities for new business, selling large and small deals, leading complex ones, working only with the in-house teams, or jointly with external partners.


Deploy them where there exists potential but currently low or no existing business. It could be winning prospects who are not yet clients or new streams of work with existing clients.


It will get value out of sales $’s spent, keep the team motivated, stay longer, and keep producing.


Happy hunting!


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