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Four dimensions of sales productivity.

In recent research conducted among senior sales management executives, Learning International identified four major areas of management activity that affect sales productivity.

Each of these four dimensions -- market strategy and focus, sales force composition and fitness, sales systems and controls, and front-line effectiveness -- is essential to improving sales productivity.

The four dimensions encompass 45 activities that can improve productivity and enable organizations to maintain a balance between the needs for maximizing financial return and creating customer loyalty.

The four dimensions of productivity and their corresponding activities are:

MARKET STRATEGY AND FOCUS

This dimension defines and shapes the organization's response to the marketplace. Its 11 activities represent long-term, fundamental commitments to the customer to meet market needs, develop lasting relationships, and provide effective service. They also represent core commitments to employees.

* Develop and internally communicate organizational mission and sales strategies

* Encourage innovation -- for example, new products and sales strategies

* Ensure that products and services meet market needs

* Build long-term relationships with customers

* Ensure effective customer service

* Implement strategies to help customers understand or evaluate products or services

* Open new business within desired organizations

* Implement strategies to sell effectively against the competition

* Choose the right distribution channels

* Set appropriate individual and group goals

* Communicate progress towards sales goals

SALES FORCE COMPOSITION AND FITNESS

This dimension encompasses 12 activities that determine the character and capabilities of the sales force. The activities relate to structuring the sales operation, as well as promoting high performance.

* Deploy sales force in the most effective manner

* Determine the appropriate number of sales representatives and managers

* Determine the appropriate criteria for measuring sales force performance

* Control turnover among sales representatives and sales managers

* Source and hire candidates with the appropriate background, skills, and personal attributes

* Determine and use appropriate hiring criteria for sales jobs

* ensure that salespeople fully understand roles, responsibilities, and expectations

* Ensure that salespeople have strong selling skills

* Provide salespeople with in-depth product or service knowledge

* Provide salespeople with comprehensive knowledge of competitors

* Bring new people "up to speed"

* Deal effectively with poor or marginal performers

SALES SYSTEMS AND CONTROLS

This dimension regulates the sales organization's response to the marketplace -- by establishing prices, for example. This dimension's eight activities, listed below, also control and monitor the system by tracking progress and building management ranks to ensure continuity of the operation.

* Ensure sales management positions are filled quickly and appropriately

* Develop optimal pricing structures

* Implement organizationwide sales tracking systems

* Forecast sales accurately

* Control expenses within the sales department

* Provide compensation programs that support organizational strategies

* Provide comprehensive job benefits

* Provide incentive programs that reward particular behaviours or results

FRONT-LINE EFFECTIVENESS

The fourth dimension consists of the following 14 activities, which make it possible for the sales organization to respond appropriately to customers' needs on a daily basis.

* Promote teamwork within the sales department

* Foster cooperation between the sales function and other departments

* Maintain positive recognition and image of the organization in the marketplace

* Provide effective advertising and promotion campaigns

* Institute a process to assess and respond to customer feedback

* Ensure that sales managers direct sales efforts that advance organizational strategies

* Ensure that sales managers regularly coach and give feedback to salespeople

* Ensure that salespeople have comprehensive knowledge of their customers' business issues

* Equip salespeople with high-technology tools (for example, laptop computers)

* Provide effective clerical support for the sales staff

* Provide recognition for outstanding sales performance

* Maintain a high level of morale and job satisfaction among salespeople

* Allow salespeople and sales managers to negotiate price, terms, and conditions within established guidelines

* Process and deliver orders quickly and accurately

Planning Guide Available

Learning International has published the Sales Productivity Guide, a tool for assessing an organization's performance in the four dimensions and devising an action plan for improvement.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Canadian Institute of Management
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Words:618
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