Sales team optimisation and the downward pressure on cost-of-sales

The annual Barrett survey, published at the commencement of the year, presaged the downward cost pressure on heads-of-sales in relation to driving costs our of sales and selling at better margins.  In fact, this trend featured first amongst the twelve sales trends for 2014 …….. the year of the thinking sales organisation.

So, almost three quarters of the way in, how has this trend played out in your sales organisation?  In the world in which we operate – helping organisations develop their sales systems, we are finding this trend to have been well forecast.  An early conversation we always like to engage heads-of-sales in is around the focus of their sales team optimisation. We like to ask, “are you looking to “……….

  • Maximise or optimise customer coverage?
  • Maximise or optimise prospect penetration?
  • Set, maximise or optimise visit activity benchmarks?
  • Set or optimise headcount?

Our detected trend is that the latter question is gaining more than 25% of the responding consideration.  And, “optimise” seems to be growing compared to “setting”, as the response we hear.  In short, this means that heads-of-sales are asking the question of themselves …… “how can I justify to my superiors the number of heads we have in the sales team?”

At The Next Level, we see that the sales team optimisation landscape for many B2B sales organisations changed forever during the shakeout of the GFC.  But we see a kind of new world order emerging from the re-modelled landscape.  And we passionately believe that those sales organisations that run their sales team optimisation as an integral feature of their annual whole-company budgeting, will rise above the post-GFC challenge of the cost of  sales and justification of the expensive sales team to become the beacons in transforming B2B to B4B………..where the customers see more value added by the supplier Sales Exec than the supplier’s products or services.