research

Research

Research Brief: Investments in Salesperson Skill Development

January 25, 2017

 

Sales forces are change-intensive organizations. With each new shift in market demand or buyer preference, sales organizations may change sales messaging, sales performance expectations, or job descriptions; in some cases, firms may even recast fundamental assumptions of how their salespeople deliver value to customers. Managing through this kind of change requires salespeople capable of acquiring new knowledge and skills, and adapting to fit new circumstances.

Register to Read More of this article

research

Research

Research Brief: Managing Sales Compensation

January 05, 2017


Sales compensation overshadows other sales-related expenses, and at times dominates the sales organization’s attention. Firms’ ability to design, adapt, administer, and communicate their sales compensation programs is therefore a significant management concern. This research examines current sales compensation management practice, quantifies factors differentiating high and low performing firms in this area, and identifies emerging issues and management priorities.

Register to Read More of this article

research

Research

Research Brief: Refocusing Sales Operations

December 21, 2016


Sales operations functions serve a vital, strategic role in sales organizations, frequently engineering large scale change initiatives in sales coverage models, or comprehensive incentive plan revisions, or launching new offerings. Along the way, they must also respond to the sales organization’s day-to-day tactical support requirements – like reporting, territory alignment, or compensation administration. This mix of strategic and tactical responsibilities represents a considerable challenge to sales operations departments. This research is focused on identifying emerging practices in sales operations that address this central challenge. 

Register to Read More of this article

research

Research

Research Brief: Sales Force Attitudes on Forecasting

November 17, 2016

Sometimes we ask our members, who are sales effectiveness leaders and senior sales leaders, to name their most vexing challenges. A topic that always comes up? Sales forecasting.
 
It’s easy to see why. In many leaders opinions’, forecasting is undertaken with uncertain objectives, requires lots of effort, is fraught with bias, and returns results of dubious accuracy. We wondered: what do the people doing most of the forecasting – salespeople and sales managers – think about it?
 
So we asked them. See what we learned in our latest research report. And, view a data visualization we've developed using the research data on Tableau Public.

Read more

research

Research

Research Brief: Leading the Social Sales Force

June 15, 2016

 

Social media can be used by companies and their sales organizations for an array of purposes, from strategic (building brand image) to tactical (generating leads) to organizational support (identifying job candidates). Whether gathering information on markets and competitors or sharing information on products and promotions, social media expand a company’s reach beyond its physical footprint and the first-degree contacts of its salesforce.

 

This research looks at how much social media use has changed since our last look in 2012, and how firms are responding to the opportunities they represent as well as how they support their effective use.

Register to Read More of this article

research

Research

Research Brief: Assessing Sales Tools

May 04, 2016

 

Over the past two decades, technology-driven innovation has profoundly changed selling and sales organizations. PCs and smart mobile devices are now essential selling tools; CRM platforms are virtually ubiquitous; and new applications appear daily to help automate, enhance, or speed up how salespeople sell.

 

This research examines how business-to-business firms identify, assess, and select new technology used by the sales organization. It also focuses on how firms approach technology investment decisions, which technologies are considered most impactful, and where sales leadership realizes return from sales technology.

 

Throughout this survey we use the term “sales tools.” We use the term somewhat generically to refer to any piece of software or hardware used to enhance sales productivity or effectiveness. However, the term excludes general-purpose applications such as email or spreadsheets.

Register to Read More of this article

research

Research

Research Brief: Sales Planning Practices

April 05, 2016

 

Sales organizations demand a daunting breadth of planning expertise: from prioritizing high-level objectives to align with firm strategy, to allocating limited resources to adequately cover opportunities, to establishing tactical performance goals at multiple levels within the organization, and, along the way, coordinating input from many corporate functions, on behalf of widely distributed sales force members, all while cultivating active participation and buy-in from disparate participants.

 

This research investigates how firms meet these planning challenges. It surveys planning practices in business-to-business sales organizations, identifies emerging trends, and prioritizes management’s planning priorities. It focuses primarily on sales team and organization-wide planning efforts (rather than call, opportunity, or customer-level planning).

An initial review of findings was also featured in a webcast, which may be viewed here:

Register to Read More of this article

research

Research

Research Brief: Assessment of Sales Opportunities

April 05, 2016

 

Accurately assessing opportunity is an essential competency for sales organizations. It underpins critical resource allocation decisions, such as how and where to deploy salespeople, and it determines how essential work is prioritized within the sales force. Opportunity assessment involves a continuum of activities, from identifying and qualifying leads, to sizing active sales opportunities in prospects or customer accounts, to forecasting sales.

 

This research focuses on two activities in this continuum – lead scoring and sales forecasting. Lead scoring is chiefly focused on prioritizing which opportunities to target in a portfolio of leads, whereas sales forecasting is more concerned with assigning a value and probability to qualified opportunities. In this survey we use the term “sales opportunity assessment” to collectively include lead scoring and sales forecasts.

 

The research sought to answer several questions related to how sales organizations practice sales opportunity assessments. These questions include the following: What forms of opportunity assessment are being implemented effectively? How accurate are sales forecasts and what can be done to improve them? Do sales people have a bias to overinflate or underinflate sales opportunity assessments? Finally, what metrics are used in sales opportunity assessment and which are most valuable?

 

An initial review of findings was also featured in a webcast, which may be viewed here:

Register to Read More of this article

research

Research

Research Brief: Sales Manager Training

April 04, 2016

 

This research focuses on how business-to-business firms support sales manager development through training. It surveys the training practices in use, the training topics and managerial competencies deemed important, the effectiveness of various training approaches, and management’s priorities in improving training efforts. The research attempts to benchmark firm investment in sales manager training, and more importantly to correlate sales manager training investment with firm performance, a link helpful to organizations focused on considering training investment’s financial return.

 

An initial review of findings was also featured in a webcast, which may be viewed here:

Register to Read More of this article

research

Research

Research Brief: Hiring Top Sales Management Talent

April 04, 2016

 

Sales managers play a vital role in high-performing sales organizations; sourcing and developing effective managers is therefore critical to any firm fielding a sales force. It’s a challenge approached in two ways: sourcing talent from outside the firm, or developing internal talent – usually salespeople promoted into their first management role. Organizations with a sizable management corps almost always employ some combination of  both approaches, rather than emphasizing one to the exclusion of the other.

 

In this research, we examine practices essential to effective sales management hiring. In doing so, we broadly define what constitutes “hiring” decisions to include deciding which internal candidates to promote, in addition to determining which outside candidates to hire as employees new to the firm.

 

Regardless their degree of emphasis on internal or external candidates, firms must address, namely: What makes a good sales manager in our firm? Where do we find the best manager candidates? What tactics are most effective in identifying, attracting, and developing manager talent? and How do we develop new managers, and further develop experienced managers?

 

This research offers insight into how firms are addressing these fundamental hiring questions.

Register to Read More of this article

View more resources