A recent article from Bain, published in Live mint, discusses the evolution of sales strategies and Sales force Management. The article, Bain Brains: How to enable your sales force to deliver more, reiterates the importance of instituting processes in the sales systems, and illustrates how companies have improved productivity by doing that..

…(companies) are reinventing their go-to- market approaches by using data, analysis and systematic selling tools to increase the productivity of reps across the board and help boost the performance of fair-to-middling performers up closer to the top quartile.

Thus, the effort is to be made in raising the bar for the average performers, making them much more productive and not relying on the top performers to get more business for them.

Though most of the strategies and trends discussed in the article – of deciding sales targets through an iterative process, a bottom-up decision-making, redefining sales territories and sales channels and precision selling, have been covered in the theory books on Sales Management, and are presribed in a lot of Sales Force trainings, a particular input is pertinent to those working on improving productivity – Sales mentoring programme – a program where the best people train the better ones and the not-so better ones, in an attempt to make them better, and more than better...

According to the article,

“.. pharmaceutical services company has developed a multi-stage sales mentoring programme that pays a small commission to the mentor for the productivity of the sales during the programme. The overall goal: to narrow the gap between the stars and the rest of the sales force. Those companies that do it well have seen the sales of lower- performing reps increase anywhere from 40% to 200%…”

Quite interesting. With peer pressure being one of the biggest hurdle in establishing processes and sharing information, a mentorship programme, where the mentor gets some returns and does not perceive mentorship as “building & nurturing competition” is an idea worth experimenting..

Apart from this, what companies could look at is a much more integrated approach, vis-à-vis the four major go-to-market participantsAdvertising and Promotion, Call centers, Internet and the Sales Forces. They need to be looked at as an integrated entity, and not separate tools to achieve sales targets. Though each participant is evaluated in terms of its effectiveness and efficiency, it is imperative to leverage key strengths of one participant for the other. An online database/portal setup by CISCO maintaining client records is one such example mentioned in the article.

As mentioned in The Complete Guide to Accelerating Sales Force Performance : How to Get More Sales from Your Sales Force by Andris A. Zoltners and Prabhakant Sinha, various go-to-market strategies that are worked on in the market today include Account teams, Industry teams, geographic sales forces, telesales (inbound and outbound), internet, advertising and parternships/collaborations.

A combination of some/all of these need to be looked into to formulate strategies for the direct/indirect sales forces.

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