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Symposium on Corporate Sales Force Effectiveness

Session Description

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm / Tue 7 Jun

Location: Theater

This session advances a framework for reconsidering the corporate SFE function’s purpose and impact. It presents emerging practices and trends indicative of the sales function’s rapidly changing operating context. Session presenters make the case for establishing (or reestablishing) a new corporate charter for corporate SFE, as a way of incorporating best practices and optimal impact. The session also will inaugurate a set of tools and programs from SMA aimed at helping members advance and codify standards of excellence in their corporate SFE programs. These include a new advisory board introduced here, research based performance benchmarks, case studies, operating standards, a certification path, and a future research agenda.

It’s common for large firms to have both a sales function, and a “sales force effectiveness” (SFE) function, but this wasn’t the case two decades ago. These new functions, with names like “sales operations,” “commercial effectiveness,” or “sales excellence,” serve to both direct and support the sales force in ways the typical sales organization, with its overriding focus on execution, is less well equipped to address.

The SFE function’s emergence reflects the challenges inherent in managing the modern sales force as it’s reshaped by disruptive forces. These forces include technology’s exponentially important contributions to sales force productivity, which require specialized expertise; a mandate to integrate previously disparate customer-impacting functions; the growing complexity of solution-based offerings; and the quickening pace and growing magnitude of change confronting sales organizations on seemingly every front.

SFE functions often spring up as part of a specific change initiative, or an especially acute challenge. Less often do they have a well-defined set of objectives, scope, and success metrics – a charter for sustained success, and a clear statement of their expected business impact.

In this session, we present ideas on what should be included in a comprehensive charter for SFE functions, and we advance a framework for assessing, managing and benchmarking the success of SFE functions. Drawing on Sales Management Association research, and best practices from our member organizations, the session offers attendees a first look at our first published standards for sales force effectiveness.

This session also introduces initial member appointments to the Sales Management Association’s SFE Advisory Board. This board will direct the association’s efforts to refine and codify SFE certification standards, advise our audience on important issues relevant to sales force effectiveness, share best practices and key learnings from their own organizations’; SFE efforts, and assist in the launch of our SFE education and certification platform.

The session consists of a series of short presentations in symposium format, facilitated discussion among attending board members, and audience discussion. It will include the following topics:

  • Forces impacting the sales force
  • Practice trends in SFE
  • Emerging competencies and new priorities for corporate SFE
  • Change leadership and organizational adaptiveness
  • Digital convergence and changing impact of technology
  • Toward a new ethos of sales talent management
  • The manager’s evolving role
  • Charting a new course – research priorities for the coming year


Session speakers

Ray Bonis

Head of Revenue Operations

#SFPC in numbers



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